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Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Novels of Ancient Rome) Paperback – Bargain Price, May 25, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Steven Saylor's seventh installment in his Roma Sub Rosa series begins with a character saying, "Pompey will be mightily pissed." Scholars might argue that there is no evidence of this particular synonym for anger ever being used in 49 B.C., but the author would no doubt respond that poetic license includes doing whatever it takes to bridge the gap for modern audiences. And indeed, the head of the Roman Senate is mightily pissed. Rome is on the verge of another civil war, and the forces of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony have crossed the Rubicon River and are marching toward the capital. To top it all off, one of Pompey's favorite cousins has been garroted to death.

Before Pompey flees the city, he asks Rome's greatest detective, Gordianus the Finder, to solve the murder. But Pompey has reason to distrust Gordianus, who may have an allegiance with Caesar. To force his loyalty, Pompey seizes the detective's son-in-law, and makes him join his household army. By doing so, he ensures that Gordianus's involvement in the coming conflict will be a very personal one. Confused and troubled, Gordianus walks through Rome toward the house of his former friend and mentor, the poet Cicero. "All around me, I felt the uneasiness of the city, like a sleeper in the throes of a nightmare." Awakening from the nightmare, surviving the chaos, and solving this whodunit will be the Finder's toughest battle yet. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Even readers not drawn to historical settings should explore Saylor's impressive series (Murder on the Appian Way, etc.) set in ancient Rome. Saylor's protagonist, Gordianus the Finder, whom Cicero characterizes as "the most honest man in Rome," is an astute citizen and a detective for the Senate. An independent thinker, Gordianus has freed his slaves, marrying one, and adopted several orphans whom he has raised as his own sons. But at 61, the wily Gordianus finds his survival instincts pushed to the utmost, for Rome is on the verge of civil war and all must be careful with their alliances. Caesar has crossed the Rubicon with his army, and his rival, Pompey, the head of the Roman Senate, is about to abandon the city, leaving its citizens without laws and protection. In the midst of this turmoil, Pompey's favorite cousin and trusted courier is murdered in Gordianus's garden. Infuriated, Pompey orders the sleuth to find the killer, insuring his loyalty by impressing one of Gordianus's relatives into his own army. While Gordianus copes with this treacherous mix of family and politics, a heightened frenzy overtakes Rome as it awaits Caesar's possible invasion. Saylor writes about ancient Rome as naturally and comfortably as if he had lived there, capturing both its glory and brutality. Finely shadowed characters and an action-packed finale make this a praiseworthy addition to a series that deserves wide attention. Agent, Alan Nevins; author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Novels of Ancient Rome (Book 7)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 Reprint edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312582420
  • ASIN: B004P5OPNE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Saylor is the author of the ROMA SUB ROSA series of historical mysteries featuring Gordianus the Finder, set in the ancient Rome of Cicero, Caesar, and Cleopatra. The latest books in the series are two prequels--THE SEVEN WONDERS, which follows the 18-year-old Gordianus on his journey to the Seven Wonders of the World, and RAIDERS OF THE NILE, in which young Gordianus, living in Egypt, finds himself drawn into a plot to steal the golden sarcophagus of Alexander the Great.

To read the previous books of the ROMA SUB ROSA series in chronological order, begin with ROMAN BLOOD, then THE HOUSE OF THE VESTALS (short stories), A GLADIATOR DIES ONLY ONCE (short stories), ARMS OF NEMESIS , CATILINA'S RIDDLE, THE VENUS THROW, A MURDER ON THE APPIAN WAY, RUBICON, LAST SEEN IN MASSILIA, A MIST OF PROPHECIES, THE JUDGMENT OF CAESAR, and THE TRIUMPH OF CAESAR.

Steven is also the author of the international bestseller ROMA: THE NOVEL OF ANCIENT ROME and its follow-up, EMPIRE: THE NOVEL OF IMPERIAL ROME. These two epic novels comprise a multi-generational saga that spans the first 1200 years of the city, from Iron Age trading post to the height of the empire under Hadrian.

Outside the Roman books are two novels set in Steven's native Texas. A TWIST AT THE END is based on America's first recorded serial murders, which terrorized Austin, Texas in 1885. The chief protagonist is young Will Porter, who later became famous as O. Henry. HAVE YOU SEEN DAWN? is a contemporary thriller set in a small Texas town; Steven calls it "autobiography done with mirrors."

Three "chapbooks" published as e-books collect Steven's scattered essays and short stories: A BOOKISH BENT; FUTURE, PRESENT, PAST; and MY MOTHER'S GHOST: THREE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAYS & A SHORT STORY.

Steven's books have been published in 22 languages, and book tours have taken him across the United States, England, and Europe. He has appeared as an expert on Roman life on The History Channel, and has spoken at numerous college campuses, The Getty Villa, and the International Conference on the Ancient Novel.

Steven was born in Texas in 1956 and graduated with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and Classics. He divides his time between homes in Berkeley, California, and Austin, Texas. When not using his brain, he likes to keep in shape running, swimming, and lifting weights.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on July 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading all of Steven Saylor's "Roma Sub Rosa" novels (featuring the First Century BC detective Gordianus the Finder) since he began publishing them nearly a decade ago. The historical background for the series is superbly researched, and the reader inevitably learns much about Ancient Rome. Moreover, the plots and characters are intricate and compelling. With "Rubicon" Saylor has reached a new level, delving deeper into Gordianus's soul than he has ever done before. And Saylor has done something which is very difficult for the author of a series to accomplish -- in "Rubicon" he genuinely surprises the reader.
I would urge people, however, to first read the other novels in the "Roma Sub Rosa" cycle before approaching "Rubicon," so that they better understand Gordianus and his family.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In RUBICON, Steven Saylor plunges the reader into the chaos and intrigue of the Roman Republic's last civil war. Less a whodunnit than a vivid, panoramic historical novel with mystery elements, RUBICON nonetheless features all the trademarks of Saylor's "Roma Sub Rosa" series -- vivid characters, polished writing, and brilliantly unexpected plot twists. The siege of the Italian port city of Brundisium is masterfully rendered, as are the terrors of traveling through a countryside ravaged by war and poisoned by suspicion and fear. Fast-paced, well researched, and exciting, RUBICON offers all that any reader of historical fiction could ask for. It's one of Saylor's best.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Part of the Roma Sub Rosa series, this has to be Saylors best book so far! It has everything a good book needs: history, political strife, mystery, death, and best of all a shocking ending. Saylor's high caliber writing and eye for detail is not lost on this book. What makes this book entirely worth the price is the unexpected twist at the end that prepares us for the next book (Last Seen in Massalia) I can't wait!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By rayberube@msn.com on August 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Saylor's work is based on excellent research, culminating in exciting story-lines which follow accurate events, characters, and times. Being an historical novel writer who has spent numerous hours of research in the libraries of Rome and Athens, I admire Saylor's study. Rubicon stands as another jewel in the necklace of his Sub Rosa Series. Saylor's descriptions of characters and events brings the reader as close a proximity to the times being written about as one could hope, save access to a time-machine! Superb writing, magnificent story-telling, backed by impeccable research!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
"Rubicon" is a fun read.
The only other Saylor book I have read so far is "A Murder on the Appian Way" which quite frankly is not half as good as "Rubicon". On the other hand reading "A Murder on the Appian Way" before reading "Rubicon" is a good idea, as the earlier book details the political situation and interrelation of the characters.
I plan to go back to the start of Saylor's series of books and work my way through in order. I'm looking forward to a pleasant season of easy yet informative pleasure reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Capps on May 23, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I read a lot about ancient Rome, however, none of my reading (mainly nonfiction) has brought that historical time and place to life for me as much as the mystery novels of Steven Saylor. I've taken a bit of time to write a review of RUBICON, because I feel it is one of his best, with one of the more compelling story lines, however, all of them are good. The other reviewers have covered the plot, which I won't review here, however the mystery I must admit had me guessing until the end.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sean O'Neill on October 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the first of Steven Saylor's books that I have read and I found it to be very enjoyable. I am a big fan of ancient history and his novel brings to life many rich details that get overlooked in the history books.
At times the language seems slightly stiff and implausible, but this does not detract from the story and seems to enhance the fact that the characters are thinking and speaking thousands of years ago in a language that has different syntax and structure from English(the book is in English).
A great read for any fan of mystery and history. Can't wait to read some of his earlier works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By nola on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have just started on Rubicon and the first thing I noticed is that the character of Davus is now a former slave of Pompey. In the previous novel Murder on the Appian Way Davus was given to Gordianus by his son Eco as a replacement for his former bodyguard Belbo who was killed. Just wondering if any body else who has read the series from the beginning has noticed this problem.
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