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The Assassins of Rome (The Roman Mysteries) Hardcover – October 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–Amateur sleuth Flavia Gemina and her friends Nubia, Lupus, and Jonathan return in the fourth book (Roaring Brook, 2003) in Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries series. They are celebrating Jonathan's birthday and are told that Jonathan's uncle Simeon has just arrived for a visit and is telling tales of assassins hired to kill Emperor Titus. Simeon is on his way to Rome and Jonathan begs to go along with him, believing that his mother may be one of the Jewish women that Titus is holding captive in his palace in Rome. The pair leave Ostia for Rome, secretly followed by their friends. Jonathan eventually finds his mother, and Flavia, Nubia, and Lupus solve the mystery surrounding the assassins and discover that many rumors about Titus are false. Each chapter alternates between the two adventures, which converge at the end of the book. Justine Eyre provides a skilled reading, giving the friends distinct voices and deftly handling the diverse accents of the minor characters. In most instances, the pacing is excellent, but the pause between the two story lines is too brief to fully alert listeners to the change. Chock full of rich details about Roman life in the first century, this is an exciting and fun listening experience.–Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Caroline Lawrence will be interviewed on CCBC digital channel programme XChange on 8th January 2003 - shown early in the morning and repeated at lunchtime. Caroline Lawrence is writing a short story for the next issue of Aquila magazine. Whole page feature in Young Writer Magazine Review in The Sunday Times, 1st Dec:"Word of mouth recommendations, and school visits by the author, who describes such fascinating props as the sponge on a stick that the Romans used to wipe their bottoms, have made Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries into one of the success stories of the year. Her novels...are informed by her scholarly knowledge of the classics. Her latest and darkest is The Assassins ofRome." Nicolette Jones

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Product Details

  • Series: The Roman Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (October 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842552252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842552254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,589,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Million-selling author Caroline Lawrence writes detective stories with the double aim of entertaining children and teaching them. Combining fast-moving plots with historical accuracy means her history mystery stories are beloved of children, parents and teachers.

In 2009, Caroline won the Classical Association Prize for her Roman Mysteries series, which comprises over 20 books and inspired a glossy BBC TV series in the UK.

In 2011 Caroline launched a second historical detective series, the Western Mysteries, staring P.K. Pinkerton: a 12-year-old doubly orphaned detective who has trouble "reading people". The Case of the Deadly Desperados was the Sunday New York Times Editors' Choice in February 2012.

"I want to know everything about the past, especially the exciting things. Also the sounds, smells, sights and tastes. I write historical novels because nobody has invented a Time Machine. And I write for kids because 11 is my inner age."

Caroline is also writing a spin-off series of Roman books for readers aged 7+, starting with
The Sewer Demon

Here are the Roman Mystery novels in series order:

The Thieves Of Ostia: The Roman Mysteries 1
The Secrets Of Vesuvius: The Roman Mysteries 2
The Pirates Of Pompeii: The Roman Mysteries 3
The Assassins Of Rome: The Roman Mysteries 4
The Dolphins Of Laurentum: The Roman Mysteries 5
The Twelve Tasks Of Flavia Gemina:The Roman Mysteries 6
The Enemies Of Jupiter: The Roman Mysteries 7
The Gladiators From Capua: The Roman Mysteries 8
The Colossus Of Rhodes: The Roman Mysteries 9
The Fugitive From Corinth: The Roman Mysteries 10
The Sirens Of Surrentum: The Roman Mysteries 11
The Charioteer Of Delphi: The Roman Mysteries 12
The Slave-Girl From Jerusalem: The Roman Mysteries 13
The Beggar Of Volubilis: The Roman Mysteries 14
The Scribes From Alexandria: The Roman Mysteries 15
The Prophet From Ephesus: The Roman Mysteries 16
The Man From Pomegranate Street: The Roman Mysteries 17

Here are the mini-mysteries:

The Legionary From Londinium And Other Mini-Mysteries
Trimalchio's Feast And Other Mini-Mysteries

Plus quiz books, omnibus editions, a travel book and a treasury:

The First Roman Mysteries Quiz Book
The Second Roman Mysteries Quiz Book
The Roman Mysteries Omnibus (Books 1-3) (B) (Feb)
The Roman Mysteries Omnibus (Books 4-6) (B)
From Ostia To Alexandria With Flavia Gemina
The Roman Mysteries Treasury

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is Jonathan de Mordecai's eleventh birthday, and despite the presence of his friends Flavia, Nubian and Lupus, he's feeling a little apprehensive. Something bad always happens on his birthday, and sure enough, a visit from the local magistrate informs the family that a dangerous assassin known as Simeon is on the loose, and could be targeting Jonathan's father.

Yet things may not be as bad as they appear: only a few chapters in, we learn that the assassin is actually Jonathan's uncle - the brother of his missing mother. He is on an important secret mission to Rome, and under the cover of darkness, he shares some astonishing news with his nephew. Refusing to be left behind, Jonathan accompanies Simeon to Rome, ignorant to the fact that his father has just been arrested. Hot on his tail are Flavia, Nubian and Lupus, hoping to stop their friend before he does something that gets him killed.

"The Assassins of Rome" marks the first installment in this series that is specifically character-centric. Up until now the children have shared the spot-light, but "Assassins" definitely belongs to Jonathan. Likewise, it is less of a mystery as it is a mission, for Jonathan accompanies his uncle to Rome in the hopes of finding what happened to his long-lost mother.

Previous books have mentioned the siege of Jerusalem by Roman legions in 70AD, and Lawrence draws upon the bloody aftermath of that event in order to shape the context of this plot. No one, either adult or child, will walk away from this book without a rudimentary understanding of what happened and why, as well as the major figures that were involved.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amy Aldrich on January 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The events in The Assassins of Rome follow about a month after the events in The Pirates of Pompeii, and is the fourth in Lawrence's Roman Mysteries Series. Here we rejoin Flavia, Nubia, Jonathan, and Lupus just as they return home to Ostia. As with the previous books, this volume is set in the first century, 79 A.D. As we start out here, the group has joined together to celebrate Jonathan's 11th birthday...and as usual, something bad always happens on his birthday....he breaks a an expensive perfume bar, royal guards show up at his house, and much more. The net result is that Jonathan turns up missing and the others find themselves desperate to solve the mystery of where he has gone.

The Assassins of Rome differs slightly in form from the previous books in the series because it is told from two different perspectives, and alternates between the two. The first perspective is that of Flavia (and her group, consisting of Falvia, Nubia, Aristo and Lupus) and the second perspective is that of Jonathan and his uncle as they travel to Rome looking for his mother. This makes the story a bit more exciting and confusing that previous books...but it's welcome deviation from the regular formula and helps keep the action going, I don't think it would have been as enjoyable if there were big breaks while a narrator explained what was going on. This device made it easy for the story to remain fast paced and exciting.

As with previous books, the author tackles the ins and outs of daily life in 78 A.D.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Latin Teacher on January 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have taught introductory Latin to junior high students for several years. I use these books to incorporate Roman culture into our studies. Both the boys and girls enjoy these books as they are fast-paced and easy to read. They can connect with the four main characters as they are representative of both genders. The kids enjoy the storyline and the action/adventure/mystery format. I like the books because they contain historically accurate people, places, events and culture. They contain age-appropriate details and include a little Latin too (Flavia calls her father "pater" which is Latin for "father" and each book has a Latin motto. The motto for Assassins of Rome is Lacrimae rerum translated, sad things happen). In this book alone, there are at lease 7 historic persons mentioned including Emperor Vespasian, Emperor Titus, Domitian and his boyhood friend, Britannicus, Nero and his wife Poppaea Sabina,and the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus. The historic buildings noted are The Golden House,the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, and the Roman Forum. Four festivals are also mentioned; Ludi Romani, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SilverLining on December 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My 11 year old boy is really enjoying reading these books. As soon as he finishes one, he asks for the next. I got the first one from the library because of the title (I am originally from Ostia - Rome). After the third book he asked me: "Do you know who Plinio was?". But of course! I used to jog in the pinewood next to the villa of Plinio il Vecchio...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a great book really giving a wonderful background to Rome itself and Roman and early Christian history. It is excellent for preparing a travel with children to Rome but also relates back to Jerusalem's history at that time. It can be read in the context of history lessons, but also for purposes of religious history.
It can be read independently of the two previous books (The Secrets of Vesuvius and the Pirates of Pompeii), but I would advise to read the Thieves of Ostia first as it introduces the characters of the children.
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