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The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina (The Roman Mysteries) Paperback – October 1, 2003

Book 6 of 17 in the Roman Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8 - In this sixth book in the series, Flavia Gemina has marriage on her mind. Her friend Jonathan's sister celebrates her betrothal to Flavia's uncle, her father announces his intention to find a suitable husband for her, and, worst of all, he becomes enthralled by a new woman in town. Flavia convinces her friends that Cartilia must be a witch causing changes in her father's behavior, and when Hercules comes to her in a dream, she knows she must solve the mystery of who Cartilia is and how she has bewitched her father. This is a mixed bag of a book. While Lawrence does an excellent job of re-creating the customs and daily life of ancient Rome, the mystery is a bit thin. Cartilia's intrusion and integration into Flavia's family is abrupt, and the girl's dislike of her is extremely modern. A bigger issue comes with the fact that Lawrence writes with the assumption of familiarity with her characters. However, if readers are willing to suspend a bit of disbelief and figure out the relationships among the people, they will be in for a treat. The glimpses of life from another time are fascinating, and the story moves quickly enough to keep interest going. - Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA
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.


"The unravelling of the mystery is thrilling and is underpinned by a huge bank of information on the ancient world. An exciting and informative read." Teaching & Learning Magazine, 1 Mar 04

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Roman Mysteries (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Children's Books (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184255025X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842550250
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,987 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

Customer Reviews

Again I've downloaded this book for my thirteen-year-old to read.
I am Blind Man
The twelve tasks of Flavia Gemina is yet another book written by my favourite author Caroline Lawrence.
In this book, however, they seem to actually be "helping" the main character.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on August 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We pick up the story in the sixth book of The Roman Mysteries with Marcus Geminus in grave but not disastrous financial circumstances. However, something potentially disastrous seems about to happen where Flavia is concerned. He father appears to be interested in marrying again and his intended bride seems to disapprove of her future step-daughter. Worst of all Flavia has been betrothed!

In short, Flavia is grounded because of her general disobediece and eagerness to solve mysteries which her father no longer finds charming. She discovers that her father's intended, named Cartila, was married before and her husband died somewhat mysteriously. Flavia is convinced that the woman has bewitched her father and intends to make him her next victim, and sets out to discover who Cartila is and what her motives are. In the process, Flavia also learns a great deal about herself.

The book is set during Saturnalia so there is a festive atmosphere to the proceedings, and also allows Flavia to engineer her selection as the king of Saturnalia. From a dream she has Flavia adopts the famous twelve tasks of Hercules as her guide to finding clues. It also helps that a new fresco is being painted in her house dealing with all of the tasks. As the book proceeds and our heroes get closer to the truth there are ominous signs that an epidemic has begun in Ostia.

This in the Roman Mysteries series concentrates more on Flavia and her character and her relationship to her father. Like the preceding volumes, Caroline Lawrence writes beautifully and I especially appreciated her descriptions of the Saturnalia. A nice addition to the series that is not to be missed.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C.Allison on January 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I just wrote a rather long review for this, then it disappeared so I'll make this rewrite short. My daughter and I love the Roman Mystery books, and were really enjoying this one until the whole mystery turned out to be a non issue and (SPOILER) they killed off a female character that Flavia had just bonded with so touchingly. My daughter was outraged. For myself, I'm so tired of children's books and Disney movies with their dead mothers, this seemed like a great opportunity to go against the tide, but apparently Lawrence chose not to take it.

For the first two thirds of the book we were reading eagerly, claiming that this was her best book yet. By the end my daughter was upset at the death (which looked completely tacked on in one paragraph, as if some outside source told her to do it) and the unsatisfying conclusion. In addition, it was never made clear whether the mystery woman's younger sister was normal, an overly jealous sibling, or actually something of a psycho. Oh, and one other thing. Not sure I want to read about a ten year old girl being romantically obsessed with a forty year old man. It may have been ancient Rome, but it's still creepy.
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Format: Hardcover
I have raved about all the books thus far in Caroline Lawrence's "The Roman Mysteries" series, but this is the first one that's left me a little cold. It's not bad by any means, but is simply not up to the same excellent standard of previous and subsequent books. Dealing with unrequited love, escaped animals, and a plot that is based loosely on the twelve tasks of Hercules, it is though Lawrence had a lot of disparate ideas that she wanted to use but couldn't quite piece together properly. Although the research (particularly on the Roman festivals and lifestyle) and her rich, clear prose is as impeccable as ever, the plot is rather haywire. The unclear mystery has an unsatisfactory resolution, and Flavia unfortunately comes across as a bit shrewish.

Ostia in the year 79AD is preparing for the Saturnalia festival, and our four young protagonists are looking forward to the celebrations: introspective Jonathan, wise Nubia, fearless Lupus and headstrong Flavia, who (as the title would suggest) takes centre-stage for this particular story. As an only child with a doting father who gives her the freedom to solve mysteries whenever they crop up, Flavia is conscious and grateful for her charmed life. But changes are on the horizon. Captain Marcus Flavius Gemina suddenly feels that his daughter is dangerously independent and informs her that she's not to leave the house without his permission. It's time that she starts thinking about the prospect of marriage, despite the fact that Flavia believes herself in love with a much older friend of the family. The final blow comes when her father brings home a beautiful young widow.
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Format: Paperback
I've been enjoying this series, and have read seven of the books in the last week or so. On the whole, the series has been fun, educational, and largely harmless.

This book, however, is my least favorite of the ones I've read. I'm sure this is largely personal preference...I didn't like the feminist themes in this book, nor the reliance on pagan mysticism. Certainly, all the books in the series (of the ones I've read) contain information on Greco Roman "gods", but they are functionally portrayed as powerless. In this book, however, they seem to actually be "helping" the main character. As a Christian myself, I'm not so interested in that.

Additionally, two of the young girls in the book (10 and 11) fall "in love" with much older men (one of whom is married). Both crushes are unrequited, but conservative parents may want to be aware of this subject matter.

My purpose in reading these books is to preview them for my 10yo, who easily demolishes a book in an afternoon. I'm going to have her skip this particular title, though I'm sure she'll enjoy several other titles in the series.
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