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Romanitas Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575096926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575096929
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,039,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Sophia will be giving a talk at THE SOUTH FESTIVAL, part of the BRIGHTON ARTS FESTIVAL, on 17th May. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sophia McDougall lives in Hastings, East Sussex and studied English at Oxford. This was her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
I would have liked to be able to rate this book higher but can only give it one star.
S. Crouch
Page after page are filled with the (predictable) thoughts of the main characters, while very little actually happens.
B. A. H. Rutten
I am sad to say that i read Rome Burning, the second book, and it is just as bad, if not worse.
Christopher Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Faragher on October 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The main appeal of alternate history is the contrast between our known world and what might have been in whatever hypothetical scenario the author envisions. "The Alteration" by Kingsley Amis engagingly suggested a credible world where the Reformation had never taken place, and Robert Harris' "Fatherland" did the same for a Nazi victory. These and other successful alternative histories work because of the detail of the imagined world. "Romanitas" is really a potboiler airport thriller, despite its literary pretensions. For this book to be interesting and to live up to its cover illustration and tag-line, I want to know what the vehicles and buildings look like, how Roman society has survived for 2500 years, how this imaginary geopolitical system works. All the author has done is replace greek etymology with latin ("longdictor" instead of "telephone", "birota" for "bicycle"), and placed a rather formulaic chase plot into a lame, half-developed setting.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Asuka Langley on September 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Set in an alternate reality where the Roman Empire never fell, Romanitas is the first in an upcoming trilogy which criss-crosses across the planet, telling the story of a time of great upheaval within the Empire.

The novel opens in a time roughly parallel with our own. The Roman Empire has expanded to encompass half the globe, reaching as far east as India and as far west as the centre of the North American continent. The slave-society still exists and crucifixions still take place (albeit with more advanced crosses).

We follow the stories of several characters as they deal with life in this alternate world, including the 16 year old Emperor-to-be Marcus Novia and Una, a young slave girl with telepathic powers.

I found the storytelling to be nicely worded, with some great imagery and concepts. (The descriptions of Una's abilities were especially potent) The narrative was interesting and compelling, with very little points of stagnation or lag.

My only two concerns were; a certain lack of logic in certain portions of this world and a deficiany in details that I craved. Why do slaves still exist when they would no longer be economically viable?

The detail wasn't nearly enough for me, I wanted to know more about the military of the Roman Empire, how did society work, and more elaboration on the history of this alternate world.

Overall the story was good, the writing effective and the characters interesting. I look forward to the next novel.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By B. A. H. Rutten on March 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up mainly because the subject matter of a Roman Empire that never fell but survived into the modern time sounded very appealing. I still think that a good novel can be based on that premise.

"Romanitas", however, definitely ISN'T that novel. Instead, it's very long-winded, very cliched, and ultimately highly disappointed airport reading material.

The first of many problems is that the alternate setting simply isn't worked out very well. It's basically way too similar to the world as we know it, except for the fact that slavery and crucifixion are still common practice. Gruesome as that may be, it's just not enough for a convincing alternate reality.

Not that it really matters, since the alternate setting only serves as a very flimsy backdrop for a dime-a-dozen chase plot that could take place basically anywhere and any time. It's an extremely weak plot, with lots of cliches, a very predictable flow, and a lot of contrivances like two of the three protagoningts having (unexplained) supernatural powers.

To make things even worse, all of this is told in an incredibly heavy-handed way. It's not strictly badly written, but it takes itself way too seriously, and it's atrociously paced. Page after page are filled with the (predictable) thoughts of the main characters, while very little actually happens. Also, none of the characters came across as very believable, interesting, or even likeable. The girl protagonist was simply obnoxious.

Ultimately, you can safely save yourself the trouble of reading this book. It's long-winded, predictable, and doesn't do anything of interest with its admittedly intriguing premise.

* out of *****
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Lee on May 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
While the premise is interesting and the cover art gets you in the book itself fails to deliver anything. The characters are wooden and uninteresting, the mysterious powers of the siblings are never explained, not even in the sequel (which seems to downplay Una's power, probably because the author realised that it would ruin the entire plot of the second book if Una could just read Drusus' mind and know that he was plotting against marcus, again.). Marcus is dull and useless and the other side characters are just as underwhelming. The pacing is pretty awful as well, it plods from one uninteresting crisis to the next without really engaging the reader in worrying if the characters live or die. Not that the characters were actually appealing enough to care about anyway. The logic of the setting is non-existant as other reviewers have already mentioned. I finished this book as an act of endurance, skipping page after page, ignoring the turgid dialogue and pointless passages of descriptive. I am sad to say that i read Rome Burning, the second book, and it is just as bad, if not worse. Throw in an international crisis and an affair between una and marcus and you get the picture. I am so glad that i got these out of the library and didn't waste money on them. Aviod, avoid like the plague.
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