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Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome

Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome - Steven Saylor Starting with the earliest days of Rome (even before Romulus & Remus), Roma winds its way like the Tiber river through the history of the Roman empire. The novel is structured as a series of vignettes, from before Roma was city up until the period shortly after Caesar's death. The novel works well as fictionalized history - if you want to way to explore the history of Rome and the early days of the Roman empire, in an easily accessible format, the novel works well. As fiction, I found it far less compelling than Saylor's Gordianus the Finder novels. Those novels have a wonderful main character & supporting cast, and can deliver information about the time period without that being the primary attraction. At times Roma feels a bit too edifying - the frequent changes of time periods and characters make it hard to form any emotional attachments to the players. At the same time, it's a very enjoyable read, and provides an easily accessible view into the history of the city. The maps which proceed each shift of time period are particularly interesting, as they show how the city grew, with the topography well-interwoven with the text. One wonders if another volume might follow - while the assassination of Caesar makes a nice breakpoint for a very long novel, there are many interesting characters yet to take the stage - Nero, Caligula, Claudius....