Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1)” as Want to Read:
Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa #1)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  5,370 Ratings  ·  356 Reviews
Elena asks that you come to the House of Swans at once... Compelled by this message, the wealthy, sybaritic Sextus Roscius goes not to his harlot, but to his doom—savagely murdered by unknown assassins. In the unseasonable heat of a spring morning in 80 B.C., Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, a young advocate staking his reputation on this case. The ...more
Kindle Edition, 404 pages
Published (first published 1991)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Roman Blood, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Camilla Monk According to reviews, it's a bit rough, and maybe fifteen is a bit young to get into it (I'd recommend The "Medicus" series by Ruth Downie, if you aim…moreAccording to reviews, it's a bit rough, and maybe fifteen is a bit young to get into it (I'd recommend The "Medicus" series by Ruth Downie, if you aim for something tamer for a teen reader. But both Medicus and Roman blood might bore a teenager, as they center around preoccupations that 30-40 something readers can relate)(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Kim

Having not studied Latin or ancient history at school or university, my knowledge of the ancient world has come from reading Gore Vidal's Creation and Robert Harris' Imperium. Oh, and Asterix the Gaul and it's various sequels. I've also gleaned a bit from Shakespeare, although I've never been that keen on Shakespeare's histories, and while I've spent time looking at Roman ruins and ancient Roman and Greek sculptures in various places, that has not led to the acquisition of any knowledge about th
...more
Hayes
Quick re-read before reading number two in the series.
-–--------------------------------

The only flaw (for me, I mean) was the long history lesson about Sulla, which sent me to sleep--serves me right for reading in bed. Otherwise it kept me glued to the electronic pages.

I missed the first twist--which is not surprising... I always miss the twist! And I fell for the red herring which followed--that too is not surprising. I have a great willingness to suspend disbelief when I read a mystery. All I
...more
Richard
Nov 22, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
7.5/10

A great start to this Roman series which attacks on two levels, one being the atmosphere and culture of Ancient Rome and the other being a good old mystery. To rate the book on one of these levels solely would do a disservice, the mystery is playing somewhat second fiddle to the ambience for a large part of the book but then becomes the main driving force at the end.

This is one of those where I wasn't expecting to read it but it was a group read for this month, it was on my (very large) wi
...more
Mr. Matt
Jun 29, 2013 Mr. Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hf-roman, hf-mystery, 2014
Sextus Roscius was a wealthy, degenerate old man murdered on his way to a brothel in the heart of Rome. The man accused of the crime is none other than Sextus Roscius' own son, Sextus Roscius the Younger. A young, ambitious Orator (i.e., lawyer/advocate) - none other than Marcus Tullius Cicero - is defending the young Roscius. Cicero retains Gordianus the finder (i.e., a private detective) to help solve a mystery. What follows next was one of the best mysteries I've read in some time.

First, the
...more
Gretchen
Jun 22, 2014 Gretchen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-rome
This is the best "starter book" I have read in a long time! Normally I find myself annoyed with books intended to start a series. There tends to be too much delving into the background of the lead characters. The actual story tends to get lost in various details about where things take place. My other problem, especially with historical series, is the amount of time spent detailing the specific time in which the story takes place.
In the case of Roman Blood, we are introduced to Gordianus, told
...more
Alicja
rating: 5.5/5

I always hate writing reviews for mysteries because everything I say feels like a spoiler. So I'm keeping this one short and sweet, and couldn't possibly do justice to the awesomeness that is Gordianus and his brilliant sleuthing skills.

80 B.C. Rome. The famous Cicero (before he becomes famous, that is) hires Gordianus the Finder to solve a mystery and help him make history or, well, just help him finds facts for a client's defense. Taken from a real case, and a real defense by Cic
...more
Pamela
Jun 15, 2014 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pamela by: Ancient and medieval historical fiction group
This is an engrossing mystery, set in the Rome of 80 BC, where the rather shady Gordianus the Finder investigates a case of murder on behalf of the young lawyer Cicero. The investigation takes Gordianus to the houses of nobles and the brothels of Rome, encountering slaves, bodyguards and senators, and the corruption of Sulla's dictatorship.

This is an absorbing novel, and the author really brings to life every aspect of Roman life, from top to bottom of society. Gordianus' investigations proceed
...more
Ram
Apr 17, 2017 Ram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book set in Rome at the end of Sula's dictatorship.

The book is a combination of a crime thriller, historical novel and legal thriller and mostly reads like a page turner but includes some dull moments.

I liked the descriptions of every day life in Rome, both of the nobility and of the more simple people. The struggles of power and the political schemes are interesting too. The emphasis of the book, on the day to day life in Rome as opposed to the big battles and expansions that ar
...more
Valorie
Roman Blood (book one of the Roma Sub Rosa series) by Steven Saylor centers around the real life patricide trial of a country farmer by the name of Sextus Roscius. The advocate of Sextus Roscius, the well known Marcus Tullius Cicero, employs the help of a man named Gordianus to dig up information about the murder in order to prove his client innocent. Gordianus is known as ‘the finder,’ a man well experienced in finding facts no matter how well hidden or obscure. Of course, such facts don’t come ...more
Victor Bruneski
Jul 01, 2014 Victor Bruneski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't expecting when I first started this book. I had read a Finder story years ago. At the time I wasn't that impressed with the story, maybe because it was in the middle of the series, and I couldn't remember much of it now anyway.

On the other hand, Roman Blood is the first in the series, so that is a better start. Starting at the start is a better start, so start there.

The first thing that leaps out to the reader is how detailed Mr. Saylor is on showing Roman life back then. I think most b
...more
Kavita
Roman Blood is a fictional narrative of Cicero's first major case, Sextius Roscia's defence for killing this father. He hires the services of Gordanius to find out exactly what happened, and the author has woven a thrilling story. I am not much of a Roman history fan, but I looked up some aspects of the case and was surprised by how true Saylor has been to history, even with the inclusion of a major fictional character.

The narrative was good too, and the action is consistent. The only parts tha
...more
Ensiform
Jan 31, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gordianus the Finder – a Roman detective with a lust for the truth, hard drinking, and his slave-girl Bathsheba – is hired by Cicero to unearth the facts behind a mysterious killing. Gentleman farmer Sextus Roscius is accused of killing his estranged father, but the truth of the matter may reveal corruption not only in the man’s own family, but in the noblest and richest families of Rome; the murder may involve even the dictator Sulla himself.

This is a superb historical detective novel. Gordianu
...more
Dawn
In this book I have finally found a Roman historical fiction that details a vast portion of the roman political and justice system.

Gordianus the Finder is hired to aid Cicero with the defense of a man accused of patricide. Cicero is a young man at the start of his career and he is determined to make a name for himself. As Cicero prepares to argue his first case, Gordianus must travel through the most disgusting of slums and to the farms in the countryside in order to solve the mystery.

I almost
...more
Kam
May 08, 2011 Kam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
I honestly wasn't quite sure what to think when I'd acquired Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. It was something of a blind acquisition, really, given that I was looking for something to tide me over after I'd gotten something of a "Roman high" from watching Spartacus: Blood and Sand and was waiting for the arrival of my copy of Gods of the Arena. This seemed like a decent-enough series to start out with, so I decimated an entire shelf at the local thrift bookstore (miracle of miracles, it turned ou ...more
C.E.
Jun 11, 2012 C.E. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First in the Roma Sub Rosa series. I read all of them. This review covers the series. Most are good, but after the seventh book ( ninth if you count the short story collections) the series begins to falter. By A Mist of Prophecies, it begins to seem the author was contriving whatever personal crisis he could for the hero, Gordianus, as if Rome lacked crises enough to move along character....And plot! And his scholarship was NOT good enough to warrant a lot of the hype. While his take of events i ...more
Karla
I had to read this one for my Roman History class in college, and while it was ok, I didn't get a sense of Rome, its political atmosphere, and what made it tick anywhere near to what Colleen McCullough manages to do in her Masters of Rome series. Despite the professor's insistence that this book was more "accurate" wrt to Cataline's conspiracy and the portrayal of Cicero, the writing was pretty dry and uninvolving. I'm not big into mysteries anyway, so my enjoyment suffered from Genre Apathy, Re ...more
Vicki Cline
Oct 18, 2009 Vicki Cline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman-mysteries
One of my favorite books, featuring the actual murder defense that made Cicero's reputation. Gordianus the Finder is a wonderful protagonist; you really get to know and like him tremendously. And Saylor makes Rome come alive, describing the streets and people quite vividly. The actual solution to the murder really surprised me, even the fourth(?) time I read it (my memory not being quite as good as it should). One of my favorite things about this series is the way Gordianus' unconventional famil ...more
Jamie Collins
Nov 14, 2007 Jamie Collins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jamie by: Julie
Nice historical mystery. I'll read more in this series.

It's set towards the end of Sulla's dictatorship and features a young Cicero preparing to argue one of his first cases, defending an accused parricide. I liked the "detective" and the descriptions of the city were vivid.
aPriL does feral sometimes


Eco is the beating heart at the center of everything. He made me shiver. At his appearance in this book, I hoped for the best, but I prepared for the worst. Eco (Echo), child of a destitute widow turned prostitute, impoverished, mute, deserted, is the scapegoat of the poor, rude neighborhood. All he has is courage and a strong sense of justice. But he is a tiny, starving little boy, beaten savagely by all and unprotected, voiceless and without strength. He must run and hide to stay alive at all.
...more
Stephanie
Fun historical mystery. Marred somewhat by moments of awkward writing. In particular, I refer to the passage around 75% of the way in during which the narrator drones on and on and on and on about the Social Wars and Sulla versus Marius. Prior to this moment the author had seamlessly mixed historical exposition and original plot. Docking half a point for this, I was so annoyed. My wrath, this review can haz it.

There's lots to like about this, though. Cicero is as 'gray and gray morality' as he s
...more
Penny
Aug 04, 2013 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an ancient Rome murder mystery/political intrigue type of book.

It plunges you into the life of an investigator, Gordiano, who is asked to help the lawyer Cicero. Cicero is defending a man, Roscius, who has been accused of murdering his (Roscius') father.

The book is very detailed in its descriptions of the seedier life of Rome. All the different classes, their ambitions or lack of them, and the political gambles people take are all part of the plot, which weaves all over the place amongst
...more
Sharon Penman
Dec 20, 2009 Sharon Penman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent historical mystery series set in ancient Rome. It has darker undertones than Lindsay Davis's Falco series,which I also enjoy, and Saylor's main character interacts with all of the major players in the twilight of the Roman Republic.
Moshe Mikanovsky
I loved this book. The combination of historical Rome with its ruthless rulers, merciless rich and spoiled citizens, poor slaves and bloody politics, with a part murder mystery part legal thriller, are very exciting! I'll look for more in this series.
Jon
Jul 03, 2009 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Jamie
Good quality (well researched) historical fiction and mystery. If this is how Roman citizens (and slaves) acted, why do we idolize them?
Kenny
Apr 27, 2017 Kenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read some of this series way out of synch going back to the beginning was interesting - remembering some of the characters from future novels, or the real people obviously has some himpact, particularly on the mortal danger parts. Understandably this first book in the series is a bit rough round the edges compared to later ones. Against the background of Cicero's first major trial, defending a chap accused of patricide. And there's lots of uncertainty in the background of major politics. ...more
Elena
Roman Blood is the first book following the adventures of Gordianus the Finder, a sort of private detective living in Ancient Rome. I had heard good things about this series of historical mysteries and, being a huge fan of the time period, I was very excited to start it.

For the most part I greatly enjoyed the book. The historical setting was fascinating and well researched: from the first pages I got invested in the story and truly felt like I was in a different time period. The portrayal of th
...more
Simon Mcleish
May 22, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in October 1999.

The third I have read (but the first in sequence) of Saylor's Roman detective stories about Gordianus the Finder gets him involved in one of the most famous trials in history. It's famous because it made the name of Cicero, whose speech from the trial still survives.

The murder victim, Sextus Roscius the elder, is a wealthy farmer who has retired to Rome to enjoy himself while his son (with the same name) runs the farm, its profits funding the
...more
Ken
Mar 22, 2014 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, mystery, italy
Outstanding as mystery and as historical fiction. Roman Blood describes parallels between Ancient Rome and our contemporary social-political story. The parallel references work on the minute scale of how similar we are to the ancients in the way we complain about the weather and the passage of time. They also work on the grand scale of how sovereign nations interact, and how the quest for power and authority creates conflict, and how great ideals are put into context by base human action. Bullie ...more
Kelly
Nov 25, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Roman Blood” was recommended to me by a staffer at the Oak Brook, Illinois, Borders. Not something that I would have chosen of my own accord, I was pleasantly surprised at how decent it turned out to be. There are, to be sure, plenty of clichéd bits of stagecraft (i.e., wispy linens draped provocatively over sexy women, gladiators described in purely animalistic terms, street scenes that play on our preconceived ideas of ancient licentiousness and filth, etc.), but there is an underlying smartn ...more
John Carter McKnight
One of the best opening chapters I've read in a long time: not a bit of "telling," but everything we need to know to jump into this tale of a private investigator in 80 BC Rome, delivered sparely, effectively, in a manner that compels you on into the story.

The procedural/mystery takes a bit of a back seat to atmosphere, but Saylor does such an excellent job of making late Republic Rome come alive that the mystery is more the icing than the cake. From back alleys to brothels to the parties of th
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading Through T...: September Read: Roman Blood 4 8 Sep 17, 2015 10:15AM  
Ancient & Medieva...: JULY 2014 (Group Read 1): Roman Blood by Steven Saylor 152 75 Aug 21, 2014 01:53PM  
  • SPQR I: The King's Gambit (SPQR #1)
  • Venus in Copper (Marcus Didius Falco, #3)
  • Ovid (Marcus Corvinus, #1)
42919
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 class
...more
More about Steven Saylor...

Other Books in the Series

Roma Sub Rosa (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2)
  • Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3)
  • The Venus Throw (Roma Sub Rosa, #4)
  • A Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa, #5)
  • The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6)
  • Rubicon (Roma Sub Rosa, #7)
  • Last Seen in Massilia (Roma Sub Rosa, #8)
  • A Mist of Prophecies (Roma Sub Rosa, #9)
  • The Judgment of Caesar (Roma Sub Rosa, #10)
  • A Gladiator Dies Only Once (Roma Sub Rosa, #11)

Share This Book



“on and on, he wasn’t the ranting sort,” 0 likes
More quotes…