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Roman Blood

(Roma Sub Rosa #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  6,657 ratings  ·  456 reviews
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 a case involving the savage murder of the wealthy, sybaritic Sextus Roscius. Charged with the murder is Sextus's son, greed being the apparent motive. The punishment, rooted deep in Roman tradition, is horrific beyond ...more
Paperback, 387 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 1991)
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Rona The sex scenes are detailed. One scene plays over and over in the memory of the main character; that scene involves an adolescent girl. There is inces…moreThe sex scenes are detailed. One scene plays over and over in the memory of the main character; that scene involves an adolescent girl. There is incest. There is consensual adult sexuality. There is a highly nuanced exploration of slavery in the Roman time.
Not for a typical fifteen year old.
If you want this child to read about Rome, maybe go to the Lindsey Davis series with the Roman detective Marcus Didius Falco. He has lots of sex, but it is done with fade-out, not details. He has a disapproving mother and a big extended family. He has money problems. A child might find him easy to relate to because he has a good bit of hapless adolescent in him. (less)

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 ·  6,657 ratings  ·  456 reviews

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Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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

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
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mr. Matt
Jun 29, 2013 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
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
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
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
Jun 15, 2014 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
Blaine DeSantis
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first reading of a book by Steven Saylor and I really enjoyed this one. I am now into 3 different series about mysteries in Ancient Rome. The Medicus series by Ruth Downie, then there is Marcos Didius Falco by Lindsey Davis and now the Roma Sub Rosa series by Saylor.
They all get about the same 4**** rating. I enjoyed all the history that Saylor incorporated into this book, as well as all the intrigue and hidden secrets that drove the plot. This series features Gordianus the Finder, who search
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am simply overwhelmed by this novel. The author has presented an accurate, well-researched and wonderfully written story about life in Ancient Rome, with its treacheries, lies, vulgar activities, politics etc. Is is very explicit but not boring when explaining habits or places and his characters are vivid and true-to-life. Moreover, the whole story is very thrilling. What more could one want from a historical novel? Oh, and I should also mention that this was only Steven Saylor's debut novel! ...more
Apr 17, 2017 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
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
Victor Bruneski
Jul 01, 2014 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
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this very long ago now, perhaps 22 years ago or so. I actually came back to it after by-chance reading book #7, Rubicon. I read this amazing series in order from then.

Jan 31, 2012 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
Jun 11, 2012 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
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
Vicki Cline
Oct 18, 2009 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
Sharon Penman
Dec 20, 2009 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.
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.
May 08, 2011 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
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-tree
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
Jamie Collins
Nov 14, 2007 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.
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.
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Roman history + Mystery= Fantastic series!
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this trip to Rome in 80 BC. Great blend of historical fiction and mystery. The main character is intriguing and I'm looking forward to reading more about Gordianus the Finder!
Kathy Davie
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, history
First in the Roma Sub Rosa ancient Roman mystery series featuring Gordianus, a disreputable Finder.

My Take
I seem to be in a very interesting rut! I keep reading novels that are set in the same places. I had just finished reading King's Gambit (SPQR, I) by John Maddox Roberts which is set in ancient Rome, and here I am plunging into, yup, ancient Rome. With the same historic characters, but at an earlier time with Cicero and Sulla.

It's a fascinating look from the average man's perspective of
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2013 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
Jul 03, 2009 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?
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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 cla

Other books in the series

Roma Sub Rosa (1 - 10 of 13 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)

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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“At length Old Tiro returned, lifting the curtain for his master. How shall I describe Marcus Tullius Cicero? The beautiful all look alike, but a plain man is plain according to his own peculiarity.” 0 likes
“No other city I know can match the sheer vitality of Rome at the hour just before midmorning. Rome wakes with a self-satisfied stretching of the limbs and a deep inhalation, stimulating the lungs, quickening the pulse. Rome wakes with a smile, roused from pleasant dreams, for every night Rome goes to sleep dreaming a dream of empire. In the morning Rome opens her eyes, ready to go about the business of making that dream come true in broad daylight. Other cities cling to sleep—Alexandria and Athens to warm dreams of the past, Pergamum and Antioch to a coverlet of Oriental splendor, little Pompeii and Herculaneum to the luxury of napping till noon. Rome is happy to shake off sleep and begin her agenda for the day. Rome has work to do. Rome is an early riser.” 0 likes
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