Rubicon : A Novel of Ancient Rome (A Novel of Ancient Rome)


Rubicon : A Novel of Ancient Rome (A Novel of Ancient Rome)
Rubicon : A Novel of Ancient Rome (A Novel of Ancient Rome)
by Authors: Steven Saylor
Released: 15 September, 2000
ISBN: 0312971184

Sales Rank: 112385

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Rubicon : A Novel of Ancient Rome (A Novel of Ancient Rome) > Customer Review #1:
No Payoff!

Saylor must have a deep respect for Julius Caesar, for while other Big Roman Names are lampooned in his books (Marc Antony, Catilina, Cicero and Pompey are the biggest), Caesar always gets preferential treatment. No one pokes fun at Caesar; whenever Caesar appears in the book its basically to give Gordianus a verbal pat on the head and swan off into throngs of adoring soldiers. But this is not why I give the book only three stars.

A chief pleasure in reading mysteries is trying to guess "whodunit." Half the time, or more, Im wrong, but the fun of doing it is still there. In this particular book, there is no possible way to guess who killed Numerius Pompeius. There are nowhere near enough clues given as to the real killer. When it is divulged, near the end, I was astonished and could only feel that Saylor had run into writers block on this one. Normally there is a satisfaction in learning who the perp was, but this one left me cold. Three hours of reading, and no payoff.

Most of my enjoyment in reading this particular series is derived from the fact that I have read the complete "Masters of Rome" (historical fiction) series by Colleen McCullough, and rereading about Cicero, Caesar, Pompey, et al. in Saylors books is like learning something else about the fun characters that Ms. McCullough portrayed.

Ill keep reading Saylor, since McCullough has finished her series. But I really dont find any of the characters sympathetic. Gordianus is usually wise, but unnecessarily distracted by his family (ever wonder why Sherlock Holmes stayed single?) As a woman reader, I wanted to like Bethesda and Diana, but Bethesda is nasty and haughty; Diana manipulates everyone to get her own way. Only Gordianus adopted sons seem to have anything to recommend them, and theyre usually shoved into the background. Lets hope "Rubicon" is the only one in the series thats this disappointing.

Rubicon : A Novel of Ancient Rome (A Novel of Ancient Rome) > Customer Review #2:
A Suspense Novel Without The Suspense

This book was a colossal disappointment. In Rubicon, Saylor does not use any of the lush characterization or attention to historical detail that he used in his previous novels in the Gordianus the Finder series.

Even worse, was the fact that this is a mystery novel without a real mystery. The reader is able to figure out whodunit very early on in the book. However, the detective Gordianus the Finder does not reveal the solution until after going through a series of contrived incidents that violate the readerss suspension of disbelief. The only reason why the solution was not revealed early on is that this would have made Rubicon no more than a novelette. In other words, Rubicon is a novelette with about 200+ pages of padding.

I give this novel a 1 out of 5 rating.

Rubicon : A Novel of Ancient Rome (A Novel of Ancient Rome) > Customer Review #3:
Good Historical Fiction

"Rubicon" is a brisk, absorbing read, one of the better popular historical novels set in ancient Rome during the lifetime of Julius Caesar. Saylor knows how to tell a story well, and he keeps his murder-mystery plots moving efficiently along. He creates interesting characters and credible conflicts and difficulties for them. This particular novel in Saylors excellent Rome series is not the strongest, but it was certainly enjoyable. The main problem for this one is that Saylor leaves the mystery behind far too long in one stretch of the book, almost forgetting the murder with which his story began. In fact, Saylors retelling of the story of Pompeys strategic retreat from Rome after Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon has greater drama than solving the murder of Pompeys nephew. Saylor cant quite make these parts of the story adhere in a completely satisfying way. But I am certainly not complaining. Saylor has given us another fine story of Rome during the fascinating Civil War. His presentation of daily life in Rome is always aptly detailed and engrossing. He also has given this story a bit of philosophical depth by focusing closely at times on the psychology of the series "detective", Gordianus the Finder. Moreover, the chapters on the battle at Brundisium, in which Pompey barely succeeded in escaping Caesars fearsome army by fleeing across the Adriatic, are a compelling addition to the massive historical literature on the Roman Civil War. Overall, well done, Mr. Saylor. "Rubicon" does not rise to literature, but it certainly is good historical fiction.

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