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Of Merchants and Heroes
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Of Merchants and Heroes

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  171 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
A consuming story of love, loss and redemption set in the classical world of Rome and Greece, "Of Merchants and Heroes" is the story of a young man's pursuit of his father's murderer and of the values and qualities he develops that will make him a man...a man capable of a deep, noble and enduring love. At the end of the third century BC, as Republican Rome's long war with ...more
Paperback, 407 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Macmillan
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A child stands on the edge of a cliff. He's just seen a young girl commit an enormous act of bravery. He's just seen his father stand up to death itself to save his life. He knows the face of the man who murdered his father. He will remember it forever. His father traded his own life for his. He takes this gift. He runs.

A young boy comes home to his mother, an honourable and brave Roman woman. A woman who trades her own happiness to save their farm - she marries the boy's uncle. Not a bad man. A
Laurentiu Lazar
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laurentiu by: ben kane
Shelves: 2013
Recently, I’ve been a bit gluttonous, reading mostly novels of Ancient Rome period. Thus, my opinion might be a bit biased since I can’t seem to get enough; the stupid smile still lingers on my face as books come and go. Therefore, show must go on! Romans! Romans! Romans!

This novel has a bit of everything: war, politics, philosophy, love... betrayal, friendship, lust, gluttony and so on and so forth. The author managed to induce so many concepts, all perfectly balanced in a story where Roman an
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You see, Marcus, some things have value yet have no price, as a wise man learns them and their worth."

This is my third book by Paul Waters and the one I liked best. Which surprised me a bit, because this is the first book he published.

One of my criticisms of his other books (more specifically "Cast not the Day" and "The Philosopher Prince", set years later likewise in Ancient Rome, focusing on a character named Drusus) was that they felt distant somehow while reading. As if there were walls bet
This is one, I thought after I’d finished it, that perhaps would have benefited by having its ‘Historical Note’ at the start. I certainly found it to be a better book looking back at it after having read the Historical Note, than I did while I was actually ploughing through it. Though, I can maybe see why note was placed at the end, not least because some readers may be put off by the information about homosexuality in the ancient Greek and Roman world. Not an easy one to know how to feel about. ...more

I almost bought this book when it was released in the UK last year, but the excerpt was kind of flat. Today I got my library copy and while readable, the book brings nothing new to someone who has read tons of historical fiction including masters like D. Dunnett, C. McCullough, Mary Renault, R. Graves, M. Waltari...

Flat and un-engaging prose, though reasonably interesting characters, but not even on Steven Pressfield or MC Ford level, not to speak of the great writers above.

Still the subject
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The young Roman protagonist of classicst Paul Waters' first novel, "Of Merchants and Heroes", seeks to find his own identity in a society in the midst of redefining itself, as the traditionally conservative Roman culture begins to embrace, albeit uncertainly, Greek Hellenism at the end of the second Punic War. Born of a landed but impoverished family on a farm in the centuries old city of Praeneste, young Marcus' life takes a dramatic turn when he and his father, along with other travelers, are ...more
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book about Marcus, man that wowed to avenge his fathers death at the hands of Mediterranean pirates. This will take him on a long voyage - he will take part in actions of Roman Republic against Phillip the Macedonian (the one trying to do the same as his more known predecessor). It is only a year or two after final victory at Zama and Romans are reluctant to engage a new enemy far from their border. During his rise through ranks of Roman army Marcus will come in touch with Greek ...more
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded to 4. This is a rereading--first read late October 2012.

A sincere compliment: very "Mary Renaultesque" in the ancient Greek/Roman subject along with the treatment of male/male love, here written about tastefully where it so easily could have been crude. I enjoyed this readable, engrossing novel; even writing style seemed very similar to Ms. Renault's.

In the 3rd century BC, Marcus, a young Roman, travels with his father; they are captured by pirates and his father sacrifices his life
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book achieves the ultimate HF goal of transporting the reader not just to a different place and time but to a different state of mind. When young Marcus's father is brutally killed on a journey, Marcus swears vengeance on the murderer, a pirate captain. Fortunately for us, it takes a number of years before he and the pirate confront one another. In the meantime Marcus learns to cope with an avaricious stepfather and an insane military commander; an elegant and clever hetaira, an idealistic ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty standard story. Young naive farmboy gets a rude introduction to life's harsh realities, endures and matures, saves an important personage in a chance encounter, has his qualities recognised, meets the love of his life but does not know it until much later, etc, etc,..

The only thing that sets this apart from other such typical fare is that it is set during a little known period of Roman history, namely, the aftermath of Hannibal's retreat from Italy and the rise of Philip of Macedon.

Too ma
Vicki Cline
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman-fiction
This story takes place at the end of the third century BC. The narrator is a young Roman who escaped from some pirates who had captured the ship he and his father were traveling on. The pirates killed his father and he vowed to have revenge on the killer. A few years later, he has been adopted by his father's brother, a merchant, and is sent to Tarentum in the south of Italy to help the business. There he meets Titus Flamininus, a historical character, who will later lead Rome to defeat Philip V ...more
I liked that the historical period covered, is one that I didn't know much about, and that I haven't seen used that much in historical fiction. That makes it a good fit for those who like Ancient Rome/Greece stories in general. I enjoyed the main character and several of the supporting characters - I felt like the author did a good job of showing a range of people with a range of characteristics. His "good" characters were sympathetic, and hero-like while still feeling human. I particularly like ...more
Bryn Hammond
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: imagined-fiction
Very Greek. I felt a rare air of authenticity with this quiet story. Its main concern was with Classical values, the learning of them and the loss of them -- from an age of heroes and aesthetic ideals (Greece) to one of merchants and commercial interests (Rome).

However, the revenge plot (mostly relegated to the beginning and the end) was too conventional. By hints in the text I'd been led to hope (view spoiler)
Ben Kane
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book thanks to a recommendation by another Amazon reviewer, and I am very glad that I did. Of Merchants and Heroes is an extremely well-written book, full of beautiful described scenes and wise words. Readers can find the basic plotline in the book description, but the story arc follows a Roman youth, Marcus, into early adulthood; this takes place against the backdrop of the end of the final war against Carthage and Rome's ensuing entanglement in Greece's politics. There is revenge ...more
Howard Anders
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good read. Mr. Waters demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of what everyday life was like during the Classical period; this adds to the realism of the story. Some readers may be put off by the sexual side of the relationship between the two main male characters, but this was a facet of life in ancient Greece, and it is not overdone here. I found the material on athletic training and competitions fascinating. Well done, Mr. Waters.
Points for solid research, but an otherwise unremarkable story with a hero far too perfect and insightful to be a plausible teenager. Feh.
Marthese Formosa
A gem of a novel. Paul Waters became one of my favourite authors from reading just one novel. Pity he has only 3 novels out.

This book is about Marcus, whose father died at the hands of pirates. The Roman boy became a man, who is guided by virtue and Menexenos, who became his lover. It's not an explicit novel, if that is what you are looking for then look elsewhere. But their relationship is set on excellence and bettering each other.

I can see parallels with Waters other books but the characters,
I suppose I know a little more about Roman and Greek history now, but most of this book was just... Shit its been 20 minutes since I finished it and I've already forgotten the main characters name. Uh... Marcus! This book is about Marcus and his perfect greek boyfriend, they have a balanced and loving relationship and they love each other very much. His boyfriend shines like the sun and is a vision of beauty and runs like a golden arrow across the landscape. The light of love shines out of his b ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Marcus is a teen, his father is killed by pirates. And so, this sets the scene for a novel of revenge peppered with politics, romance, war and adventure. I didn't have high expectations of this book set in Ancient Rome and Greece as I'd never heard mention of it before but it was a brilliant tale with a fantastic mix of historical and fictional characters and situations.
Jan 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting take on early decline of Roman Empire, beginning of Greek and Roman cultural fusion.
Alwyn Redcliffe
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-bc
Good b.c
King philip of macedonia
Amna Ghafeer
Mar 12, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned-lol
Just terrible. Awful, amateur writing. No depth of description and painfully obvious plot.
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong page count 7 29 Apr 18, 2014 10:56AM  
  • The Pillars of Rome (Republic, #1)
  • Dark North
  • Rome: The Eagle of the Twelfth (Rome, #3)
  • Hound
  • Defender of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens, #2)
  • The Soldier of Raetia (Valerian's Legion, #1)
  • The Water Thief (Aelius Spartianus, #1)
  • Master and God
  • Arrows of Fury (Empire, #2)
  • A Life Apart
  • Lion of the Sun (Warrior of Rome, #3)
  • Ship of Rome (Masters of the Sea, #1)
  • A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening
  • It Takes Two
  • Tournament of Shadows
  • Helpless
Paul Waters was born and schooled in England, but says his real education did not begin until he was seventeen, when he ran away to sea.

He spent the next two years travelling the world on a tramp steamer. It was during this time, somewhere in the Indian Ocean, that he picked up a copy of Herodotus, and began a love affair with the classical world of Greece and Rome.

Later he returned to England and
More about Paul Waters...

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“You see, Marcus, some things have value yet have no price, and a wise man learns them and their worth. So do not let the standard of the marketplace be your guide. A man goes there for flour and greens, but not for virtue.” 1 likes
“I remember Cannae," she said, raising her head, "when we thought all was lost. Carthage had defeated us, and there were those who gave up hope. Yet we survived, by our fortitude, and by believing that we should endure. There are times, Marcus, when courage is all you have."
I looked down at the stone floor, chastened into silence by her cold, stern words. This was her way, as it had always been. It was the Roman way. Grief was an indulgence; and though she surely suffered, her suffering was for her alone. It seemed hard, but she had come from a hard family, brave men and brave women who through the generations had survived by facing down hardship and loss. Of all her long line of ancestors, she was not going to be the one to break.
And nor, I decided, was I.”
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