In 88 BC, it seems as if the entire ancient world is at war. In the west, the Italian states are rebelling against Rome; in the east, Mithridates is marching through and conquering the Roman Asian provinces. Even in the relatively calm Alexandria, a coup has brought a new pharaoh to power and chaos to the streets.
The young Gordianus is waiting out the chaos in Alexandria with Bethesda when he gets a cryptic message from his former tutor and friend, Antipater. Now in Ephesus as part of Mithridates' entourage, Antipater seems to think that his life is in imminent danger. To rescue him, Gordianus concocts a daring, even foolhardy scheme to go behind enemy lines and bring Antipater to safety. But there are powerful and deadly forces at work here, which have their own plans for Gordianus. Not entirely sure whether he's a player or a pawn, Gordianus must unravel the mystery behind the message if he's to save himself and the people he holds most dear.
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Terrible reading hurts the story
- S. Caruso
Good but my least favorite of the prequel series
I would edit down some of Antipater's diary. It seemed to bog down the story at times. I also thought the ending was a bit of a let down. And, a minor thing, but I was bothered by one minor character, who Gordianus had met in the first prequel, The Seven Wonders, whose development in this book seemed to me to be wildly incompatible with her character in the first book. I didn't think this was necessary at all.
I love how Saylor provides the rich cultural and historical context as such a natural part of the story. Least interesting was how Saylor sort of overdid some of this context at times in Antipater's diary.
He did some of the characters well, but others not so well.
Definitely, yes. Saylor is a great storyteller.
- James W.