ROMA by Steven Saylor

Roma, Steven Saylor’s precursor to Empire, tells the story of Rome before it was Rome to the time of the first Roman Emperor. Saylor’s first departure from his Gordianus novels, Roma does an excecllent job brining 2000+ year old history to life in its pages. The story begins almost 300 years before Romulus and Remus founded Rome (A legend which Saylor wonderfully re-imagined in such a way that the reader has no trouble believing this could be the way it really happened.) thorugh the early years when Rome was ruled by kings, through the death of the last King of Rome and the birth of the republic. Roma continues the tale through the republican age, skipping neither defeat nor triumph and takes the story to the death throes of the republic with Sulla and Julius Caesar and right up to its demise with Octavian, whom history lauds as the first Roman Emperor, Augustus.

Like Empire, which I read first, and surprisingly prefer (just a bit) over Roma, the novel follows the course of history through the eyes of the Pinarii and also the Potitii. We see their beginnings as just a humble family to the rise (and fall and rise again) to the top echelon of Roman society. Saylor makes great use of the characters and though some are short-lived, all have an important role to play in moving the story forward.

Roma is 549 pages (at least my copy) of Roman History that comes to live as you read. And it wasn’t enough! I’m greedy and I want more, but unfortunately, even the Roman Empire ended and so then Saylor’s epic story must also. At times, I felt loftily superior to the characters, like an immortal or one of the ancient gods/goddesses might have, as with the passage of mere hours of reading, history went from fact into the realms of legend, confusion and the unknown or forgotten. It’s heady stuff, especially when I realize how easily the same could be said of us in time.

As with reading Empire, I was gratified by the care and reverence with which Saylor treated history. He didn’t reinvent or change event to suit his story, instead, his fiction effortlessly expanded into the gaps and unknowns left behind to create a masterful work of art.

If you’re looking for a quality work of fiction, try Steven Saylor’s Roma. It’s available at your local bookstore or library and online in print or eBook. Read it? As always, I want to hear your thoughts.


And that’s my 2¢ for today.



~ by leslies2cents on March 22, 2012.

4 Responses to “ROMA by Steven Saylor”

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