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Roma (Rome #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  4,409 ratings  ·  423 reviews
Spanning a thousand years, and following the shifting fortunes of two families though the ages, this is the epic saga of Rome, the city and its people.
Weaving history, legend, and new archaeological discoveries into a spellbinding narrative, critically acclaimed novelist Steven Saylor gives new life to the drama of the city’s first thousand years — from the founding of th
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Hardcover, 576 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2007)
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Judith Phillips If they like ancient history they probably would. I learned things I never knew about some of the facets of ancient Rome. I never knew about…moreIf they like ancient history they probably would. I learned things I never knew about some of the facets of ancient Rome. I never knew about Coriolanus and Romulus and Remus, said to be the founders of the city.(less)

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Mr. Matt
Roma is the story of Rome over a massive arc of time - from the mists of prehistory to the supremacy of Augustus and the establishment of Empire. The story is told from the perspective of two families - the Potitii and Pinarii. The story follows these two families as they pass through time as witnesses (and frequently) victims to great events.

I'm not sure that this book will be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed it immensely. I read a lot of historical fiction set in the Roman era. I always fe
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Rachel
Nov 01, 2010 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Titus Livy
Shelves: ancient-hist, 2009
Steven Saylor definitely took on a huge task when he chose to write a novelized history of Rome from the viewpoint of one of the oldest patrician families, but least-known in modern times --- the Pinarii, and their cousins the Potitii. The novel touches on the important turning-points of Rome's history, when members of the Pinarii or the Potitii are constantly being caught up in momentous events --- the sack of Rome by Gauls, the Carthaginian wars, the campaign of Scipio, the dictatorship of Sul ...more
Al Akfar
This was an astonishingly bad book. It ranks among the worst historical fictions I have ever had the misfortune of encountering.

I'll give Saylor points for concept - an historical novel covering the history of Rome from its founding to the end of the republic is a formidable and praiseworthy undertaking. However, sailing solo around the world is also a formidable praiseworthy undertaking, but if you forget to pack your lunch that just makes you a twat with an inflated view of your capabilities.
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Marina
The book starts with the very first people to walk the Tiber route - the metal and salt traders, followed by a number of settlers who thought it advantageous to create a market for trade, through Romulus and Remus and the kings of Rome, followed by the tumultuous centuries of the Republic, culminating in the rule of Augustus.
The story of Rome is also the story of two patrician families - the Potitii and the Pinarii, their rise and fall, successes and misfortunes, their members constantly in the
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Erin
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I had no expectations whatsoever going into Steven Saylor's Roma. I only stumbled on it by accident, deciding to read it on a whim more than anything else. I had no comprehension of what I was getting myself into, nor any real grasp of the extensive scope of material covered within these pages. This being the case you might understand what a pleasant surprise my ultimate enjoyment of the piece was.

Mo
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Ensiform
An epic biography of the city, spanning a thousand years from the first meeting of traders across the as-yet unnamed hills to the rise of Augustus Caesar. Legendary figures such as Romulus and Remus are made historical, and Saylor even gives one possible source for the birth of the legends of Hercules and his vanquishing of the monster Cacus. Obviously, with a tome this vast, the narrative skips staccato-like over decades and centuries, but Saylor makes stops at all the high and low points: the ...more
David
Good book, but not as fun as Saylor's Gordianus the Finder novels/stories.

I think my problem here is the same that I have with lots of historical fiction -- or at least that branch of historical fiction which tries to cover decades & centuries in the course of one novel: you don't get to stay with any one character long enough to really care about them.

The only author I've read who dealt with this satisfactorily is Edward Rutherfurd (I can't recommend his book Sarum enough). Every family me
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Dawn
Multi-generational, thousand year stories do make it impossible to get attached to any characters as they are there for a chapter and then gone. They provide continuity to the history and give a focal point but don't offer much else.
I personally have little interest in pre-history so could have done without the first 3 chapters and I know more about Caesar than such a broad overview could portray, so the last 4 chapters were a bit boring for me as well.
This could be a good way to learn about ge
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Steven Harbin
Just finished this historical novel about the founding of Rome until the time of the end of the Roman Republic. Historical mystery novelist Steven Saylor has outpace even his usual high standards on this book, a sweeping grand epic in the style of James Michener's historical novels such as "The Source" and "Hawaii". I highly recommend to anyone interested in ancient Roman history.
Philip Steiner


Saylor employs the time-worn but effective vehicle of two family's fortunes to carry the load of a millennium of Roman history. From its founding myths to the end of the Republic, Roma provides a vast, broad, but shallow view of the city and the world it came to dominate. Choosing to focus on the lives of individual members of the fictional Pinarii and Potitii families as the generations pass in and around the city, Saylor denies us a front-row seat at the events that shaped Rome's rise to domi
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Melissa
I wanted to read this book because I love Roman history and culture, and have for many years. I'm also a fan of such works as "I, Claudius" (both the two books by Robert Graves and the miniseries), and the HBO series "Rome." Still, when I first started reading "Roma," I was a little skeptical. To put it bluntly, I found it incredibly, um ... phallocentric. Is that a word? But I let myself become immersed in the story, in which over many generations, the city of Rome emerges as the most vibrant c ...more
Ed
Mar 31, 2010 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction and Roman History fans.
Covering 1044 years of history in 550 pages is quite a feat. Saylor does it by following two families down through the ages from when Rome was a stop on a salt trading route to the ascension of Octavius to be the first Emperor, Caesar Augustus.

Each chapter is a vignette that might even stand alone but is tied to the previous story and the succeeding story by family ties and the passing down of a gold amulet, in the shape of a winged phallus, from generation to generation.

By so doing Saylor is a
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Leigh-ann
This is Saylor's version of the history of Roma, starting from when it was merely a campsite for traders along the salt routes, and ending in the days of the Caesars. I enjoyed the very old details and stories because I hadn't heard them before, but once we reached the time period of 100BC onward, most of the material was familiar and even some of the little characterization stories that Saylor uses were repeated from his "Roma Sub Rosa" series (or vice versa). This wouldn't be a problem for som ...more
Andrea
This was my first Steven Saylor book. It had a tough feat because it attempted to follow the first 1000 years of the city of Rome. Given the task and the ever-changing characters, I think he did a good job. It was a great idea to trace everyone through a family heirloom that got passed down from generation to generation. He seemed to get his facts mostly right, so as a Classics person I was not annoyed. It was a good escape and helped rekindle my love affair with the ancient world :) Let me know ...more
Chris
Saylor copies Edward Rutherfurd's idea of telling the history of a city or a nation by tracing one family. The problem is, he isn't as good as Rutherfurd is. Most of the characters, especially the women, are one dimensional. In addition, he makes Cleopatra boring. That's hard.
Nancy
Aug 25, 2010 Nancy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ancient history buffs

Reading “Roma” was an enjoyable time-consuming experience. I finally had to stop myself from googling various gods, goddesses and historic characters to learn more about them, or I never would have gotten to the end of the book. I do appreciate Saylor’s inclusion of a map before each chapter showing the physical changes of Rome through the years and the genealogical chart at the beginning, and of course his thorough research and imagination in making connections and creating such believable cha
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Elaine
1000 years of the history of Rome.

Romulus and Remus (757BC)--legend that they were suckled by a she-wolf comes from the swineherd who found them after a flood. His wife was a prostitute. Ancient name for a prostitute was "she-wolf"
Lupercalia- festival to celebrate the day Romulus and Remus and a friend ran through Roma naked except for wolf pelts over them.

Haruspex- a diviner. From Etruscans.
Asylaeus-patron god of vagabonds. Asylum derived fom this word.

Quiranal-northern most of the seven hills.
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Mark Mallett
Saylor sets his book in the city of Rome (and what will be the city of Rome, as the book starts well before the founding). While the writing is often somewhat plain (I say "often" because some chapters flow a lot better than some others), and occasional purple prose passages almost prudish in their choice of descriptive words, the story is captivating - especially if you are someone like me who is easily triggered by historical references to go look things up online. While it's historical fictio ...more
Mirah W
'Sweeping' would definitely be an accurate description of this novel...it covers 1,000 years! That said, I think it might have been a bit too sweeping. I think the idea is great to have a novel of the history of the Roman Empire, but the sheer volume of that is just too much. I thought the author did a good job of condensing where he could but the downfall was that I never really got to know most of the characters very well. I love getting to know the characters in a story, it's my favoirite par ...more
Sue
This was a very good read - an epic beginning before the founding of Rome and ending just in the last century BC. Saylor's "short stories" of each significant period reminded me of Michener's epic historical novels, but they didn't capture my interest in quite the same way as Michener did. If I could rate the book 3.5 or something just short of 4, I would. Although enjoyable, the book didn't quite make the number 4 grade.

Sayer follows a pair of families through the history of Rome, and I think t
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Bruce
Sep 25, 2008 Bruce rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: casual readers who are not Romaphiles and know/care but little of Rome's republican history
Steven Saylor is known for his (at this writing) 11-book historical mystery series called, Roma Sub Rosa, in which Gordianus the Finder investigates historical cases in a well-researched Republican Rome context. I'd been grinding through Colleen McCullough's 8-tome rambling Masters of Rome series, when fellow Goodreaders suggested I dump McCullough for Saylor. But where to start? Three books of McCullough had already taken me from 110-67 BCE (from rise of Gaius Marius to Pompey's overthrow of Mi ...more
Gabrielle
This book is almost all talk, and after a while it started to grate on me. Steven Saylor spent too much time telling the story and not enough showing. This happened more and more as the novel progressed. The various protagonists would give long speeches, or give their children a history lesson regarding everything that happened in the previous decade(s).

And sure while I know a lot of some of the major events, because I love history, I hated the way the book skipped passed certain major events o
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Martin
Through this massive book we learn not only about the lives and lineage of two Roman families, we learn about the history and making of Rome itself. Many subtle misunderstandings we have as to how the empire was formed are corrected and many other things we suspected were confirmed. History is truly shown to repeat itself chapter by chapter as we follow families and citizens struggle for safety and power.



Is this a novel, a blueprint for a television series on the History Channel, or a craftily w
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Faith Justice
This is an abbreviated version of a much longer review posted on my blog.

Over three thousand years ago, a murder takes place on an island in a river flowing through the hilly region of Italy later known as the ruma. This bloody act presages the rise of one of the ancient world’s most ruthless empires. In Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome, Steven Saylor takes us on a thousand-year journey from Rome’s mythical beginnings as a trading post for salt sellers through its evolution into an empire, in a s
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Tom Spisak
Forty-odd years ago, the citizens of Boston bestowed (or inflicted) a classical education on me, which included reading Caesar, Cicero, Livy and Virgil in the original.
While Virgil mostly crops up in memory because the opening line of the Aeneid fits a Sousa tune and Caesar and Cicero creep into my writing style, that long ago reading of Livy applies here.
Titus Livius probably began his only surviving work soon after Octavian Caesar defeated Marc Anthony and Cleopatra at Actium and became emper
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Ben Babcock
The subtitle says it all: "The Novel of Ancient Rome". Not "A novel", THE novel! The boast is not unfounded.

Stephen Saylor steps through almost a thousand years of Roman history in a series of vignettes. In each one, we experience a pivotal moment in the life of Rome through the perspective of a different person. Sometimes I empathized with the character; at other times, I felt he or she was in the wrong.

I'm used to historical fiction that takes place in a single period of time, investing itself
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Aron
Good:

Easy to read. Saylor knows all the tricks of the trade to keep the suspense going, to keep the story line moving and to make his characters interesting. He also brings to life many of the "heroes" of Roman history and humanizes their motivations. He gives the reader a good feel for the day to day life of Rome at all levels of it's society. Finally he brings to life all the themes that led Rome to become a great empire along with the internal conflicts that eventually led to it's collapse: i
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Jack Sheppard
Sheer graphomania

It seems that the epic undertaking of “Roma” to Saylor is just a convenient disguise to publicize his idiosyncrasies, at times clearly transgressing the borders of obscenity into the realms of depravity. Regrettably, such authors find their audience, however the genre of their books should be unequivocally revealed in order not to fool wider audiences, seeking a historic narrative, into dissolute stories.
The phallic cult was not a solely Roman invention, nor was it the first an
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Frank
This novel is the very embodiment of the phrase, "bringing history to life." Stephen Saylor's Roma walks the line between historical fact and historical fiction. Where the lines of fiction are blurred who is to say there isn't a dallop of truth to it anyway. Wonderfully researched and brilliantly imagined, ROMA is a must read for anyone who enjoys history and/or adventure and/or biography.

The novel does not follow any one human character. The main characters of this story are the city of Roma it
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David
Steven Saylor has written two excellent historical fiction books describing the rise (Roma) and fall (Empire) of the Roman Empire. I was looking for a fresh view on the topic and these books were perfect for this interest. I actually thought I would read only Empire until I realized after just a few pages that for these books starting at the beginning is necessary. Now having finished Roma I can say that this epic retelling of the history of the fragile start of Rome is thorough and extremely en ...more
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Steven Saylor is the author of the long running Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, as well as the New York Times bestselling novel, Roma and its follow-up, Empire. He has appeared as an on-air expert on Roman history and life on The History Channel.

Saylor was born in Texas and graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and classi
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More about Steven Saylor...

Other Books in the Series

Rome (2 books)
  • Empire (Roma, #2)
Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1) Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2) Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3) A Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa, #5) The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6)

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