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Conspiracies of Rome (Aelric #1)
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Monthly Group Reads > APRIL 2013 (Group Read 1): Conspiracies of Rome by Richard Blake

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message 1: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Mar 14, 2013 02:05PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments The Discussion thread for the April Group Read of Conspiracies of Rome by Richard Blake


Conspiracies of Rome (Aelric, #1) by Richard Blake


609 AD. Rome is torn apart by war, plague and internal power struggles between the Emperor, the aristocracy and the Church. Into this morass stumbles the young and handsome Aelric. His father was murdered, his inheritance stolen. Forcibly separated from the woman he loves, he is determined to win back all that he has lost. Through his naivety and ambition, he unwittingly becomes involved in a heretical plot that will lead to fraud, murder and high treason. Introducing the most compelling anti-hero since Flashman, Conspiracies of Rome is the first in a searingly sharp trilogy that takes you to one of the darkest and most dramatic periods of history.

This book is first in a series:
Conspiracies of Rome
The Terror of Constantinople
The Blood of Alexandria
The Sword of Damascus
The Ghosts of Athens

Conspiracies of Rome (Aelric, #1) by Richard Blake The Terror of Constantinople (Aelric, #2) by Richard Blake The Blood of Alexandria (Aelric, #3) by Richard Blake The Sword of Damascus (Aelric, #4) by Richard Blake The Ghosts of Athens (Aelric, #5) by Richard Blake


message 2: by Darcy (last edited Mar 14, 2013 02:05PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments My copy has this cover
Conspiracies of Rome (Aelric, #1) by Richard Blake

Edit to add: I just looked within and the font is smaller than usual, which I'm fine with, but usually trade paperbacks have slightly larger font.


message 3: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments I think that is the only cover you can get now? I was looking at it on The Book Depository a couple days back and the cover in the thread title was unavailable now.

My library has the series, but I am really debating whether to borrow or buy. If I like Book #1, I do like to buy a series and own them all. :)


Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments Well, you could get it from the library and you like it then you could purchase it and the next one together.


message 5: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments That's what I did with Traitor's Blood. Read it via the library, decided to own the series, so bought book 1 and 2. Then I hated book #2.

Buying into series' has made me a nervous customer now. :)


message 6: by Richard (last edited Mar 14, 2013 04:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Richard Blake (richard_blake) | 11 comments I'm very flattered that you've chosen one of my books for the next month. I don't have much of a profile in North America, and am always grateful for attention. I will do my best to help readers with any queries. However, three points worth making:

1. I'm currently away from home and am logging on from various hotels.

2. I often know less about the books I've written than a reasonably attentive reader. While it's being written, a book is a cloud of possibilities. Once it's written, I, for one, have trouble remembering which possibilities made their way into the text and which didn't.

3. Since CoR, I've written at least ten other books. Don't expect me to remember all the details!

All this being said, here I am. Don't expect authoritative answers to your questions. But I do promise to do my best.


message 7: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Mar 14, 2013 07:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Hello Richard,

Welcome to the group and the discussion thread for your book. (although you won't see too much activity until late March).

Hopefully we will all enjoy the first book in this series and go on to seek out more of the series.

You may like to know in advance that we encourage our members to be honest about their opinions on books, even if the author is 'in the room' reading the comments. Sometimes this means the author will see some negative comments, but there are always positive too. So don't be too disheartened if some of our members do not like Conspiracies of Rome.
We all have varying tastes in here and there will be good with the bad.
Thanks for dropping by. :)

Regards,
Terri


message 8: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments To those who are going to have trouble sourcing this one (in the States and Canada), I hope you can find it or afford to buy it).
Group Reads of books like these that do not have the major distribution into the States and North America are a good chance for people from these countries and areas to find new authors outside of the mainstream.

I have not read Conspiracies of Rome (I will read it with you all in April) so cannot guarantee how good the book is, but it is nice to give these books a chance. As mentioned above, they have not got the major marketing campaigns behind them like authors such as Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden do and sometimes there are gems sitting out there waiting to be found....sometimes there are rotten eggs too. lol. But then some of those mass marketed authors can write rotten eggs also. :)


message 9: by Darcy (last edited Mar 14, 2013 07:49PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments I can state that for Canadians, I bought mine through Chapters.Indigo. Actually, I bought 3 of the books on the April polls through them as combined they were less expensive than at TDB. However, I got the shipping free (because I got the three together) and I have a loyalty card. If you don't have a card, you'll have to do the maths, I think it might still be less expensive, but I won't swear to it.

I can't speak for libraries though. I did checked online and there was nothing available for SW Ontario. But I'm not familiar with non-academic ILL so, I didn't check that. :)


message 10: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Mar 14, 2013 08:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments RE: Libraries
I think this was the one that Dawn checked on World Cat. To see how many copies of Conspiracies of Rome were available.
Seven copies in the whole of America and Canada. So if you are lucky enough to be near one of those copies, you better ILL now before someone beats you to it. ;)

Here is the World Cat link for members to search for copies of Conspiracies of Rome: http://www.worldcat.org/


Richard Blake (richard_blake) | 11 comments Well, I've sold a reasonable number of books, and got some fairly good reviews. I have no right to complain if some people don't like them, and if they make their dislike plain.

As for the shortage of copies, how about Kindle? I don't like the medium. My wife bought me one for Christmas two years ago, and I haven't even charged it in over a year. But I do have friends who swear by them.


message 12: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Richard wrote: "Well, I've sold a reasonable number of books, and got some fairly good reviews. I have no right to complain if some people don't like them, and if they make their dislike plain.

..."


That is a great attitude, Richard. There are many authors who subscribe to that attitude as well.
There are some that don't too. And that intimidates our readers sometimes. The ones who don't like the book. They won't comment at all in the discussion because they feel they cannot speak freely.
I am glad you won't be one of those. :)

Mind you, when people have criticisms of our group reads they will generally be fairly careful that their negative comments are still respectful.

While I too am not a ebook reader (I tried but I can only appreciate paper) we have a lot of ebook lovers here. We also have a lot of members who will go for both. If they cannot find the paper book in a library or used, they will generally try to buy the ebook.
Failing that, they will go for plan 'c' and buy the more expensive paper.


message 13: by Dawn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments And I don't know about the US but I can't get a Kindle copy in Canada. It's not available.


message 14: by Dawn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments Though I also prefer a paper copy anyway. :)


message 15: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments No Kindle in Canada. That doesn't bode well for our members getting a Kindle copy in the US. Yikes.


Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments There is a Kobo edition for $11.99 in Canada.

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Conspi...

Is this not a Kindle edition?
http://www.amazon.ca/Conspiracies-of-...


message 17: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments That looks like a Canada Kindle edition to me. :)

What do you think went wrong in your search, Dawn?


message 18: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments I see the Paperback is on sale on Amazon!
So cheap! I wish I shopped with Amazon...but..I'm Australian, so no good to me. :)
http://www.amazon.com/Conspiracies-Ro...


message 19: by Dawn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I searched on Amazon and it came up as not available. The search doesn't always work since they rearranged to make all the Kindles country specific instead of available worldwide. And I didn't look any farther because I was looking for a paper copy anyway. :)


message 20: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Paper copy is on sale. :)


message 21: by Dawn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I found one for $5.07 including S&H.

Amazon.com costs me too much in S&H, plus duty for crossing the border so I don't order from there. I went with AbeBooks and am getting one sent from Goldstone Books in the UK......along with a few others. :)


message 22: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Such a canny shopper. :)


message 23: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments I have this one from the library ready to go April 1.
I like the cover. IN fact, I really like all the covers in this series.

You have a good cover designer on the hook, Richard.


Richard Blake (richard_blake) | 11 comments I had to stand still for hours while my legs were being drawn!


message 25: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments haha! Nice legs. Shame about no face. :)


message 26: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Richard wrote: "Well, I've sold a reasonable number of books, and got some fairly good reviews. I have no right to complain if some people don't like them, and if they make their dislike plain.

As for the shortag..."


Kindles are fine. They are light and easy to tuck in a handbag or briefcase. I am usually reading 2 or 3 books at a time- one paper, one kindle and one audio. When I travel on business, I can't read the kindle when the plane is landing or taking off, so I pull out the paper one. It is ridiculously easy to download a book on my kindle, which unfortunately adds to my "to be read" list!

I wish I'd had Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy #1) by Ken Follett on my kindle when I read that. The book was so big it was practically a lethal weapon!


Darcy (drokka) | 2675 comments You must have an amazing set of hamstrings holding that right leg just aloft, and good left calf muscles. ;)


message 28: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments D wrote: "You must have an amazing set of hamstrings holding that right leg just aloft, and good left calf muscles. ;)"


What people will do for their art. :)


message 29: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments For those interested, here is Richard's website: http://www.richardblake.me.uk/


message 30: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Have added a video to the group to coincide with this group read.
http://www.goodreads.com/videos/40726...

It uses the Rome tv series to put together a 10 minute piece about religion in Rome.


message 31: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (last edited Apr 02, 2013 01:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Right! I have started. :)

I am up to page 80.
This may sound like a back handed compliment, Richard, but I am surprised the writing is this good.
Granted there is some negative feedback from me. There is A LOT of swearing and Pommie slang going on that makes me cringe sometimes. Some of the pommie slang will be lost on readers from other countries (obviously not lost on an Australian as we know your slang) but aside from that I am really liking the writing quality.
I never expect much from 'book #1' in a series.

I love your Rome. The way you are describing Rome with its gloss taken off, is brilliant. I can really see it.

Since you are a Historian, I am wondering, is Roman history your favourite era? It may seem obvious that it is, but I know some authors who don't write about their absolute favourite country and era.


message 32: by Richard (last edited Apr 02, 2013 04:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Richard Blake (richard_blake) | 11 comments Yes, there's a lot of swearing in the first one. Oddly enough, there's almost none in 4 and 5, and none at all in the last three I've written. Put it down to self-doubt - rude words everywhere take minds off lack of narrative structure. I'm not saying CoR lacks narrative structure. I think it has a reasonably good one. But you never believe, when you start a first novel, that you will finish it, and feel the need to keep it bouncing along somehow. It's the same with number two. After that, you accept that you are a novelist and start to get on with the story.

As for the writing, you should always do your absolute best to say what's in your head. You should certainly do your best to take the reader into the world you've created. I wrote CoR with maps of mediaeval Rome all over the place. Thanks for the praise.

As for the history, I don't think Byzantium is my absolutely favourite place and period. However, it's undeniably interesting, and has been misconceived in the public mind. I realised this when my wife took me to Rome in February 2004. We started by looking at the Forum and all the other classical sites. But I found myself increasingly drawn to the mostly complete early mediaeval structures. Then we went to Constantinople in May 2007, and I was smitten. I've now read so many of the primary sources that I qualify as an expert.


message 33: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments The swearing is definitely getting in the way of the dialogue right now. Of course, as you would know, there are some readers who love that. It gives them many a giggle.
I swear a lot in the real world and yet I have a love/hate relationship with it in historical fiction.
Some people don't even notice it. I believe you will always get a mixed response with readers. Whether a lot of swearing works in HF is a divisive topic and we have debated it in here many a time.

The narrative is working for me now. So I would agree, the narrative does not lack structure. It is just sometimes such as when (view spoiler)

Still, swearing and slang aside. My ears are pricking up with this book. I think I have found another series to follow.
Glad the swearing meter gets turned back a bit as the series progresses though. lol.
yet, in saying that, Aelric is young and we all swear a hell of a lot more when we are young.
As we get more mature we kind of cut it back and improve our grammar too. So maybe it fits the character, even if it doesn't always fit the book. :)


message 34: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments I start it couples of days ago. The first few chapters were too slow, almost gave up on it. But I reach the chapter when our hero arrived in Rome. I got pulled back in. Now, the book become interesting.


message 35: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments I tend to agree. That is when I suddenly got interested too.

We seem to be agreeing a lot lately, Lia. ;)


message 36: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments Terri wrote: "... We seem to be agreeing a lot lately, Lia. ;)"

Must be from the chocolates we ate. :D


message 37: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Chocolates can be very bonding. :)


message 38: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments It is very quiet in this board. [Twilight Zone tune]


message 39: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments haha. Shhhh...everybody is reading..


message 40: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments I think because this book is hard to find in the US and North America that we won't have a lot of folks joining us this month. I know of two people who are reading the other group read (the Medieval Group Read) and will join us here when they come over to the Ancient Group Read.


message 41: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Lia,
I am wondering how you will feel about the book as you progress. Considering you just had Roman politics burn out by just recently finishing: Imperium (Cicero, #1) by Robert Harris


message 42: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments The bits and pieces about papyrus and parchment are really interesting.


message 43: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments I agree. I am finding a lot of it interesting. Wondering where the story is going, but I still like the book. :)


message 44: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments Terri wrote: "Lia,
I am wondering how you will feel about the book as you progress. Considering you just had Roman politics burn out by just recently finishing: Imperium (Cicero, #1) by Robert Harris"


Actually I like this book better then Imperium. To my surprised, the desolation that the narrator described feels more prominent having just recently "visiting" the city at its peak.


message 45: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments As you know I liked Imperium more than you. for me, I'd say I am enjoying this one as much. :)


message 46: by Dawn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments My copy of this book showed up at my door yesterday but I have six other books I have to read first so I'll be aiming for the last week in April to read this. Maybe sooner if I have a really productive weekend..... :)


message 47: by Lia (last edited Apr 04, 2013 04:04PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments Finished chapter 26.
(view spoiler)


message 48: by Terri, Wyrd bið ful aræd (new) - rated it 3 stars

Terri | 19509 comments Wanted to let everyone know (including Richard) that I won't be reading for a bit so you won't see any feedback from me a few days or so.
Hurt my back and I am a bit sick and the thought of reading makes me queasy. lol.

Hopefully this won't last for long and I can get back to the book soon.


message 49: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments Get well soon Terri. Definitely lonely here reading alone. :)


message 50: by Lia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lia (lia_mb) | 636 comments Finished chapter 43.
There is inconsistency in this chapter. (view spoiler)


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