Liviu's Reviews > Empire: the Novel of Imperial Rome

Empire by Steven Saylor
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Sep 03, 10

bookshelves: 2010_release_read, mainstream, read_2010, top_25_2010_novels
Read on September 03, 2010

The sequel to Roma and one my top expected non-sff novels of 2010 was even better than i expected. I liked Roma (A+) but its vignette like nature needed to cover 1000 years of history made it read like a collection of related stories than a novel.

Empire focuses on a much shorter period - about 125 years and covers four main characters, the male line of the ancient Pinarius family and ends on a note promising more

The heart of the novel and the best parts are the middle two, with the 3rd one Lucius: the Seeker covering the Flavian dynasty and the start of the Antonines (69-100) just awesome in both cast of characters and action.
The portrait of Domitian as a precursor of Stalin is chilling, but Lucius the main hero steals the show and is one of the best characters in all fiction I've read this year.

His father Titus the augur who was sort of friend to both Claudius - whom he ultimately betrays - and Nero to whom he stays loyal to the bitter end - is the second best character of the book and reminded me a bit of the Roman of Mika Waltari, though in a more serious rather than picaresque mode.

The first and last parts are dominated more by the Emperors - Augustus and Hadrian and by historical characters - young Claudius and Antinous and Appolodorus respectively and the Pinarii here - Lucius the augur and Marcus the sculptor - play important roles but they are less well developed and more a vehicle to carry the story of Rome from its Imperial beginnings to its Imperial height that is presaged so well and about i hope we will see another Pinarii novel.

Extraordinary detail and world building and this novel is a clear work of love for the author and the single best novel he has written; A++ and a top novel of mine for 2010
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