- Series: Novels of Ancient Rome (Book 14)
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur Books (February 25, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250015979
- ISBN-13: 978-1250015976
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 123 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Raiders of the Nile: A Novel of the Ancient World (Novels of Ancient Rome) Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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*Starred Review* Saylor’s long-running Roma Sub Rosa series affords astonishingly vivid views of the tumultuous first century BCE. Saylor has found an ingenious way of showing court intrigues, sea and land battles throughout the empire, and the most common (and lively) street life by creating a fictional detective respected by everyone, from the emperors and senators on down. Roman citizen Gordianus the Finder plays on his knowledge of human nature and politics to solve whatever he’s presented with. Now, Saylor skips back about 40 years (from Caesar’s difficulties with Ptolemy and Cleopatra in 44 BCE) to 88 BCE, when Gordianus, just turned 22, is staying for a time in luxurious Alexandria and is in love with his female slave. This attachment is the fulcrum for the novel. The slave, Bethesda, vanishes from a street fair she was attending with Gordianus. She has either been kidnapped by a band of pirates or has been taken as a slave for a much richer man. And in a twinning device entirely suitable to a Roman drama, the whole mystery is complicated by the fact that Bethesda bears an uncanny resemblance to a woman in the mime troupe whom she and Gordianus met after a performance. As usual with Saylor, a feast of details about Roman cuisine, street life, dress, and social strata is presented here, spiked with the contrast to Alexandrian customs. Another history-mystery that can be devoured on both levels. --Connie Fletcher
“If you're going to tour the ancient world, you could find no better guide than Saylor, who has proven his mastery of the form” ―USA Today on The Seven Wonders
“A vivid and robust writer, Saylor invests his books with exquisite detail and powerful drama.” ―The Philadelphia Inquirer on A Mist of Prophecies
“As always, Saylor excels at bringing the past alive, in particular by incorporating the political issues of the day into the action.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred) on The Seven Wonders
“Vivid….Saylor has found a marvelous way to bring Roman history and mores alive. This is an excellent entryway to ancient Rome.” ―Booklist (starred review) on The Seven Wonders
“Saylor's ability to re-create the classical world is always astounding, and The Seven Wonders is no exception. Expertly researched and beautifully written… A thoroughly enjoyable read.” ―The Deseret News
“Steven Saylor’s engrossing series centers around Gordianus the Finder―a kind of Roman Sherlock Holmes.” ―The Wall Street Journal on The Triumph of Caesar
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There are mysterious events, and the presence of Ismene the witch, a character who appeared in Saylor’s last Gordianus book, THE SEVEN WONDERS, adds a touch of the occult to the plot. But the book is more an adventure story than a mystery, and Gordianus’s courage and physical stamina are tested along with his mental acumen. There are terrible dangers, hair-raising escapes, and a well-fleshed out cast of characters that includes the street-smart young slave boy, Djet. Djet leaps off the page so fully alive and so appealing that I very much hope we encounter him in another novel. There is also Cheelba, a lion who I came to care about as much as I did the human characters. I loved Cheelba and the role he played in the story!
I appreciate the moral seriousness that Saylor brings to the subject of a romance between a master—Gordianus—and his slave. This question is not belabored in any kind of heavy handed way, but it is not ignored either. Since Gordianus is a good man, one the reader admires, it would be wrong to portray him as oblivious to the ethical aspects of such a power differential.
I have an abiding interest in the ancient world, and there were plot elements that reminded me of Roman comedies (which were patterned on Greek comedies). I found Saylor’s discussion of ancient novels in the Author’s Note extremely interesting, and a reminder of this author’s true erudition. His knowledge of the ancient world gives his books a wonderful added dimension.
To sum up, I greatly enjoyed this book and found it a page-turner I could not put down. I regret that I read it in one day, because I would like to have lingered in Saylor’s ancient world a bit longer. I’ve read all of his historical novels and recommend them all. This one is great!
As with the other books in my 3 book order, this volume arrived with stains on the covers as though the person packing it was eating something ( or worse ) and the post office took advantage of no padding to manhandle the box, break the packing tape, and damage the corners of all pages. This makes 2 out of the 3 books to arrive in similar condition from Amazon.
A romantic adventure follows which involves everything from a mime troop to pirates and lion to a witch and, ultimately to a very fat Ptolemy, who is currently King of Egypt. It is a pleasure to read and includes the attention to bringing ancient people vibrantly alive that is hallmark of all of Saylor's stories. he makes Alexandria and the wilds of the Nile Delta accessible and as real as he made Rome and Italy in his earlier books. I look forward to reading these stories of the younger Gordianus as quickly as he writes them.
Having seemingly exhausted Roman history and taken Gordianus to a ripe old age in previous novels, Mr. Saylor has backtracked in his past couple books to Gordianus as a young man. This time around, we have a twenty-two year-old Gordianus living in Egypt force to track his kidnapped slave (love, and future wife) Bethesda in the Nile delta where he runs into brigands and political fallout with the uncertain rule of Egyptian King Ptolemy.
Honestly, Mr. Saylor is saved this time around by the great character he has created in Gordianus and a plot that ticks along nicely for most of the book. He’s working against a real problem now: the historical ground he’s currently covering just isn’t as interesting as Gordianus’ adventures in Rome. He also does himself no favors by the very pat, very happy ending he brings all the main characters to in the closing pages of this novel. I used to be a big fan of Mr. Saylor’s often harsh but more realistic endings to his Gordianus novels. He’s lost that recently.
Still, this is a pleasant enough read. And no one can deny that Mr. Saylor knows how to create a real sense of an historical place, when he doesn’t get too instructional (which he doesn’t here). In the end, this book is a fun way to spend an afternoon.