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The Triumph of Caesar: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Novels of Ancient Rome) Hardcover – May 13, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
Book 12 of 12 in the Roma Sub Rosa Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At the start of bestseller Saylor's stellar 10th novel in his Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder (after 2004's The Judgment of Caesar), Gordianus is at first reluctant to accept a commission from Julius Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, to discover which of the general's many enemies may be plotting her husband's assassination soon after his victory in the Roman civil war. When Calpurnia reveals that the first man she'd hired for the job, Hieronymous, was murdered, the sleuth agrees to help because Hieronymous was an old friend of his. The suspects in Hieronymous's death, who include such prominent figures of the period as Cleopatra and Marc Antony, may well be the ones seeking to kill Caesar. Since the action takes place two years before Caesar's actual death in 44 B.C., there's little suspense about the outcome, but Saylor ably rises to the challenge. The convincing backdrop of daily life in ancient Rome helps make this compelling whodunit a triumph. Author tour. (May)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gordianus the Finder is a marvelous example of a credible early-history sleuth—sophisticated, cagey, and loosely attached to the shifting power structure of Rome in the time of Caesar, Pompey, Cato, and Cicero. This latest in the Roma Sub Rosa series in which Gordianus stars is set just after the Roman civil war has ended, but with the nation-state still in uproar over murders, betrayals, and a calendar system out of sync with the seasons. Gordianus, now 64, has retired from his role of solving mysteries, big and small, for the powers-that-be. Then he receives a summons from Calpurnia, Caesar’s second wife, who says she fears for Caesar’s safety, especially since Caesar is totally distracted by the plans for four upcoming triumphs. Calpurnia shows Gordianus the murdered body of his friend Hieronymous (Hieronymous was the scapegoat portrayed in Last Seen in Massilia, 2000). This hook brings Gordianus into searching for the enemies of Caesar. Guided by Hieronymous’ journal, Gordianus plunges into the scary, fascinating world of Roman plots and betrayals. Saylor brings Roman history to vivid life in his series, filling his books with both the big picture of what happened and intriguing minutiae (for example, we learn here how Caesar fixed the calendar and how Romans divined the future from animal entrails). Fast-paced action, a deeply realized main character, and accessible history make this series first-rate on all fronts. --Connie Fletcher
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Product Details

  • Series: Novels of Ancient Rome (Book 12)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312359837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312359836
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on May 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Another reviewer here opined that "The Triumph of Caesar" may be the best of Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder Ancient Roman "Sub Rosa" mystery novels. She might be right. At any rate, it is at least another strong entry in a strong series. Unlike so many mystery series that grow tired as the number of volumes grows, Saylor's Gordianus books remain compelling and they even get better.

The events at the end of the previous novel in the series, "The Judgment of Caesar", were sufficiently ambiguous that they could have signaled the end of Gordianus's career, but "The Triumph of Caesar" finds the detective back in Rome, in 46 BCE, on the eve of Julius Caesar's celebration of four triumphs to mark four recent military victories. But Caesar's defeat of his enemies on the battlefield has not meant the end of all of those who might wish him dead, and Gordianus finds himself drafted by Caesar's wife into attempting to uncover a possible conspiracy against the Dictator, a task Gordianus is willing to undertake because it has already cost the life of a friend.

Steven Saylor has a particular knack for creating vivid and realistic characters, even secondary and minor figures, who have the breath of life, and are not memorable only because they are quirky caricatures. Saylor seems to genuinely care about the fates of these characters (some of them are fictional creations, but others are drawn from historical sources) and he causes his readers to equally care. Although the world of Gordianus the Finder is often filled with sorrow, loss, and woe, Saylor unfailingly conveys a sense of fundamental humanity, where salvation and redemption are found in love and friendship. His "Sub Rosa" books are worth reading not only as good mysteries, but also as simply good novels.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is the weakest entry by far in what was once an excellent series. Gordianus died in the last novel (or it sure seemed like it), and his resurrection in this new effort is woefully incomplete. He stumbles through the entire mystery, with other folks, or luck, supplying the partial discoveries required to advance the plot. He has essentially nothing to do with the final resolution either. Perhaps Steven Saylor is trying to hand the reins off to Gordianus's children, so the series can extend out to Octavian or so. At any rate, not at all the Finder we fell in love with.
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Format: Hardcover
This may be the best of the Gordianus mysteries. It is absolutely gripping. Intending to savor it over a couple of days at least, I read it in one sitting. Calpurnia, Caesar's wife, has been troubled by evil omens and asks--or rather, demands--that Gordianus find the person who is plotting against Caesar's life. Is saving Caesar's life a worthy project? Gordianus is not so sure, and in any case, he wishes to live a life of peace, so he refuses the commission. But the previous "detective" on the case, an old friend, has been killed, and Gordianus is drawn into seeking justice for the crime, and, in the process, finding out who, if anyone, is plotting against Caesar's life. In his investigation, he must meet and interview many historical figures--Cicero, Brutus, Cleopatra and her sister, Arsinoe, Antony, and Vercingetorix, the defeated leader of the Gauls. Remarkably, Saylor brings these figures vividly to life.

The novel is informed by a depth of compassion for human beings living in a brutal times that is rare in an historical mystery. It engages your emotions and makes you truly care about the characters. This is a truly special novel which works well as a mystery and also transcends the genre.
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Format: Hardcover
I should have realized this book would be a letdown. It arrives just a year after Saylor's wonderful (and lengthy) "Roma." Quickly returning to his successful Roma Sub Rosa series, he elects to have Gordianus spend his time interviewing, sometimes brilliantly, several of the Big Names in town for a set of public "triumphs" being held by Julius Caesar. But not all of these folk are registered at five star hotels. Some live in captivity, a few of those in degrading filth, and all are intended serve the Dictator as public victims, a tradition within the "triumph" genre. Gordianus' sessions with the doomed are especially compelling. So far, so good.

But the decision develop character allows no time to develop a complex plot. Caesar's wife Calpurnia believes her husband to lie in grave peril, a state from which only the Finder can rescue him. Receiving her daily directions, Gordianus trudges from interview to interview, inevitably asking himself if This could be The One, and always reminding us that it's never The One you think it is. Brutus? Nah ... Cleopatra? Too obvious, and yet it's never The One ... And on and on.

But if you haven't spotted The REAL One by page fifty you're not trying very hard. The motive is transparent, and the clues lie about like spilled tea leaves. Worst, the conclusion is so un-Gordianus as to leave us wondering if he really did die back there in Egypt. Or maybe just should have.

I loved this character and his entourage through many thoughtfully entertaining adventures. Thus isn't any of them.
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