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The Judgment of Caesar (2004)

por Steven Saylor

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5841830,504 (3.73)18
It is 48 B.C. For years now, the rival Roman generals Caesar and Pompey have engaged in a contest for world domination. Both now turn to Egypt, where Pompey plans a last desperate stand on the banks of the Nile, while Caesar's legendary encounter with queen Cleopatra will spark a romance that reverberates down the centuries. But Egypt is a treacherous land, torn apart by the murderous rivalry between the goddess-queen and her brother King Ptolemy. Into this hot-house atmosphere of intrigue and deception comes Gordianus the Finder, innocently seeking a cure for his wife Bethesda in the sacred waters of the Nile. But when his plans go awry, he finds himself engaged in an even more desperate pursuit - to prove the innocence of the son he once disowned, who stands accused of murder. The judgment of Caesar will determine the fate of Gordianus's son; the choice Caesar makes between Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy will determine the future of Rome's empire. At the center of these two dilemmas, Gordianus becomes the unwitting fulcrum that will shift the balance of history. Witness to the death throes of the old world, he is to play a critical role in the birth of the world to come. Drawing scrupulously on historical sources, this is the most ambitious novel yet in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. Saylor presents a bold new vision of Caesar and paints a compelling and original portrait of Cleopatra, amid bloodshed, battles and storms, in a setting of Egyptian magic and mystery.… (mais)
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The latest in a mystery series by Steven Saylor, with the ancient Roman detective Gordianus the Finder.


The novels are OK, but not great. The thing I like about them, though, is that they make Roman history much more memorable than a textbook. Although I've read dozens of Roman history books, I never made the connection that the same person could live through the Dictatorship of Sulla, the Servile Rebellion, the Cataline Conspiracy, and the Civil War until I read these. Admittedly, Gordianius is getting a little long in the tooth - I think he's right around 65 in this latest novel.


Caesar meets Kleopatra and Ptolemy, and predictibly can't decide between them (both in terms of who he's going to put on the throne of Egypt and who he's going to sleep with). Gordianus is dragged into it in a somewhat convoluted manner - he just happens to be in Alexandria instead of Rome because his wife, the ex-slave Bethesda, wants to visit home. Our hero finds himself in the right (or perhaps wrong) place at the right time, witnessing the assassination of Pompey and the famous arrival of Kleopatra in a rolled-up carpet. The actual mystery is a relatively minor one, involving the poisoning of Kleo's food taster, and is dealt with in a chapter or so. If you're interested, you probably want to start with the first in the series, Roman Blood. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 26, 2017 |
Saylor is recognised for his historical veracity and deep knowledge of the Roman period, but he wears this learning lightly and never resorts to lengthy or incongruous exposition (none of this 'Oh, look, here comes Pompey, great general of Rome and enemy of Caesar, who has just...' malarkey). This is an involving look into the world of Egyptian Alexandria and the end of the great conflict between Caesar and Pompey that leaves Julius Caesar as undisputed leader of Rome and sees him start his relationship with Cleopatra. The political wrangling between Caesar, Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy for primacy in Egypt is well told.

The mystery element of the story does not show itself until half way through the book and is unravelled with very little tension or investigation, even though the jeopardy is heightened by having our hero, Gordianus, having to save his adopted son from a death sentence having been accused of the attempted murder of Caesar.

The all-loose-ends-gathered-everybody's-happy ending was unsatisfying and did not reflect the gritty reality of the historical elements of the book. ( )
  pierthinker | Aug 9, 2017 |
Saylor's heroic sleuth journeys to the Nile and becomes embroiled in intrigue. Wonderfully well researched, this character-driven mystery is my very favorite by Saylor. With star-studded appearances by Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, the complicated politics of Egypt, and even battle scenes make this book writhe with truly vibrant life. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Bethesda is very ill and is feared to be dying. She asks to be taken back to Alexandria so she can bathe in the Nile. Gordianus agrees only to be caught up in the death of Pompey, the civil war in Egypt between Cleopatra VII and her brother Ptolemy XIII, and Caesar's Alexandrian war. In all the chaos, Meto, Gordianus's estranged son, is accused of attempting to poison either Cleopatra or Caesar. Gordianus attempts to clear his son's name before he is executed.

Saylor is back on form with this one. Enjoyable portrayals of the characters and their complex relationships. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Dec 17, 2015 |
Steven Saylor sait (ce qui n'est pas si facile) allier le plaisir du policier, l'érudition historique et la simplicité du style. Une très bonne série. ( )
  Nikoz | Apr 13, 2015 |
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It is 48 B.C. For years now, the rival Roman generals Caesar and Pompey have engaged in a contest for world domination. Both now turn to Egypt, where Pompey plans a last desperate stand on the banks of the Nile, while Caesar's legendary encounter with queen Cleopatra will spark a romance that reverberates down the centuries. But Egypt is a treacherous land, torn apart by the murderous rivalry between the goddess-queen and her brother King Ptolemy. Into this hot-house atmosphere of intrigue and deception comes Gordianus the Finder, innocently seeking a cure for his wife Bethesda in the sacred waters of the Nile. But when his plans go awry, he finds himself engaged in an even more desperate pursuit - to prove the innocence of the son he once disowned, who stands accused of murder. The judgment of Caesar will determine the fate of Gordianus's son; the choice Caesar makes between Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy will determine the future of Rome's empire. At the center of these two dilemmas, Gordianus becomes the unwitting fulcrum that will shift the balance of history. Witness to the death throes of the old world, he is to play a critical role in the birth of the world to come. Drawing scrupulously on historical sources, this is the most ambitious novel yet in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. Saylor presents a bold new vision of Caesar and paints a compelling and original portrait of Cleopatra, amid bloodshed, battles and storms, in a setting of Egyptian magic and mystery.

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