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Wow, this book is quite excellent. Every character is unique and intriguing, each very different from the other, from supporting cast to main characters. That takes writing skill to pull off. And the writing skill is excellent in all descriptions from action to setting, skillful and beautiful without being overdone. And the dialog is amazing.
I was drawn into this world immediately from page one, but it got better and better as I read further and slowly got to know the interesting characters.
The main character Gaius is an upper class guy who owns slaves and has lecherous aims on them. You might, at first glance, see him as glib, spoiled, privileged, a sex addict, and yes he is all those things, but as you read you realize he's not a bad man, he has a lot on his plate, is even in line for the throne, and when he plays he just likes to play hard. But he is fair, and he is very smart. I like smart characters. I like flawed characters. I like slave stories. So this novel bats a thousand for me.
Allerix is another amazing character (they all are, really, but I have time to name only a few). He is a newly captured slave from an enemy country (one of my favorite themes to read) and is having a hard time adapting to becoming a pleasure slave. His come-back lines are some of the best I've ever read. His strength of character is why Gaius is falling in love with him, when at first he is just physically attracted to him. Alle gets away with a lot of sass because that very fierceness in him is what fascinates Gaius. Their relationship is only just beginning in this book. But it hooked me so that I had to immediately buy book 2.
What I like about the master-slave relationships in this book is how the author reflects the ancient Roman cultural tolerance toward slavery to set up a household that works like a family. It's not the family we are used to seeing in the 21st century and it's not supposed to be. The master and all his servants and slaves run the household in a well-choreographed partnership. They take care of each other. The slaves fall in love with their master because he takes care of them, and for other reasons, too, such as he is handsome, powerful, charismatic, fair, strong and smart. These reasons lead to deeper commitments and loyalty. It's completely believable.
There is a lot of sex in this book because sex is the reason and theme for a lot of the characters. Many of the characters are pleasure slaves. It's what the book is about, mainly, as backdrop and for character interaction. So sex is part of the setting and characterization. For myself, I love it. There is also an overlying plot of secrets and subterfuge, too, and lost loves and sibling resentments, and this leads to a shocking murder.
Because I love all of that, I have every reason to keep reading this series and am thrilled to learn it will be, when done, a total of 5 books. I am so happy to hear that.
I can only think that any critical reviews this book has received stem from the reader not really enjoying the slave theme or the sex, because really, this book is extremely well-written, and looking at book 2, which I just bought, it just gets better. Highly recommended.
Dominus starts in modern day Rome with archaeologists who become aware of the historical events after an interesting discovery. There is a bit of a mystery in the air, though, before we are drawn back into the past to this fascinating love story. Do be aware that this is a first book with a sequel...sequels? to come so it doesn't end here. I am waiting breathlessly for the next book. I want more of this story.