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Think "I Claudius" merged with "Much Ado About Nothing", mix it with Davis's excellent writing style and sprinkle with the reality of historic first century Rome and you will be some way to appreciating what a superb novel this is.
The basis of this novel, as the title suggests, is the reign of Domitian, not one of Rome's better emperors. It opens in the aftermath of the eruption of Vesuvius and takes us on a journey of almost twenty years. In Davis's usual way, real historical characters are entwined with those of her rather idiosyncratic imagination. The main protagonists are neither hero nor anti-hero, but beautifully crafted flawed human beings doing their best to get by in a Rome in the grip of an increasingly insane emperor.
The use of two narrators, which can sometimes grate on the ear, works extremely well and the delivery adds depth to the characters.
This novel will be an instant hit with those who are already fans of Davis's books. For anybody who has not yet come across her work, I would seriously suggest that they give this novel a chance. I can guarantee that nobody will regret their choice and will come back to this book again and again.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
I always enjoy Lindsey Davis and look forward to another in her Falco series. This, however, is another of her standalone novels.
It is set in the time of Domitian, one of the emperors it was extremely unfortunate and highly dangerous to work for. One of his Praetorian guard is a major character, Gaius Vinius, as is Flavia Lucilla, an imperial hairdresser! They meet at the time of one of the great fires that devastated Rome, and their relationship developes over the years, despite Gaius' series of disastrous marriages. They see Domitian's increasing paranoia and are faced with the opportunity to do something about it.
The narration is in two voices which works very well.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful