The Judgment of Caesar
The Judgment of Caesar
A Novel of Ancient Rome
Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312271190, 304pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2004
It is 48 B.C. For years now, the rival Roman generals Caesar and Pompey have engaged in a contest for world domination. Both now turn to Egypt, where Pompey plans a last desperate stand on the banks of the Nile, while Caesar's legendary encounter with queen Cleopatra will spark a romance that reverberates down the centuries. But Egypt is a treacherous land, torn apart by the murderous rivalry between the goddess-queen and her brother King Ptolemy.
Into this hot-house atmosphere of intrigue and deception comes Gordianus the Finder, innocently seeking a cure for his wife Bethesda in the sacred waters of the Nile. But when his plans go awry, he finds himself engaged in an even more desperate pursuit - to prove the innocence of the son he once disowned, who stands accused of murder.
The judgment of Caesar will determine the fate of Gordianus's son; the choice Caesar makes between Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy will determine the future of Rome's empire. At the center of these two dilemmas, Gordianus becomes the unwitting fulcrum that will shift the balance of history. Witness to the death throes of the old world, he is to play a critical role in the birth of the world to come.
Drawing scrupulously on historical sources, this is the most ambitious novel yet in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. Saylor presents a bold new vision of Caesar and paints a compelling and original portrait of Cleopatra, amid bloodshed, battles and storms, in a setting of Egyptian magic and mystery.
"But the real substance of the book is Saylor's confident recreation of Alexandria at this crucial moment in both Egyptian and Roman history. As always in Saylor's historical fiction, the interaction between powerful and ordinary people is a great strength, as is the evocation of an ancient city: he does here for Alexandria what he has already achieved for Rome. His Caesar is completely believable, as are his circuitous dealings with the Egyptian queen. Gordianus is as fascinating as he was as a young man, and the novel provides all the customary pleasures of serial fiction. But it also stands in its own right. Saylor evokes the ancient world more convincingly than any other writer of his generation."-Sunday Times (London)
"[A] superb historical novel...the reader is engaged throughout...this is a compelling testament to Saylor's growth as a writer and to his seemingly effortless ability to imagine characters who feel real...longtime fans will find the evolution of Gordianus's personal relationships fascinating, but the back story is not so complex as to bar new readers from entering Saylor's world."
-Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"A solid series addition."-Library Journal
"Superb. From the exceptional attention to historical detail to the development of character and plot, which is based on real history, it's a treat to read. All the action takes place in a time of great upheaval both in Rome and Egypt, and Saylor, an excellent scholar, makes the most of it. This is a great getaway novel."-Globe & Mail
"Expert mystery-mongering closely woven into a pageant featuring the most star-studded cast imaginable. Fans of the historical mystery couldn't do better."-Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)