Tuesday, May 27, 2003

The Shattered Horse

By S.P. Somtow (Somtow Sucharitkul)
Winner of the 1986 Daedalus Award for Fantasy

"An age of bronze and heroes had ended; the day of iron and armies was yet unborn. The conquerors were gone, the wooden horse lay rotting; and the son of Hector came down from the mountains to reclaim the throne of ravaged, fallen Troy. But there was no way for young Astyanax to rekindle his lands glory, or wreak vengeance against his enemies until the gods spoke and gave Astyanax a destiny. Alone, nameless, the king began an odyssey across a tragic empire; the world of mad Andromache; cursed Orestes; dying Circe. The nomads path led to a predestined goal - for to save his land Astyanax had to relive the past. Kidnap the demi--goddess Helen. And start the Trojan War. Again!"
Tor Books - 1987

Monday, May 26, 2003

Women and Monarchy in Macedonia

by Elizabeth Donnelly Carney

The American Historical Review writes, "Elizabeth Donnelly Carneys book presents an exhaustive account of the careers and identities of the royal women of ancient Macedonia from the beginnings of the Argead dynasty in the sixth century B.C.E. to the defeat of the last Antigonid king by the Romans in the second century B.C.E., discussing in total some forty-two women from the relatively well known to the completely obscure. In her first seven chapters, Carney alternates between a main narrative, with a chronological, institutional emphasis, and individual biographical essays or inserts that consider motivation and personal perspective. The inserts actually comprise the majority of the text of these chapters (in the twenty-five pages of chapter six, for example, there are roughly eighteen pages of insert on seven different women). The dual approach also extends to the book as a whole; the biographical approach dominates the first part of the book, while the final two chapters abandon the biographical approach for analytical narrative.

Ashes of Britannia

By Haley Elizabeth Garwood

Another of Garwoods Warrior Queen series, this novel focuses on Boadicea (Boudicca), Queen of the Iceni, a powerful tribe of Roman Britain, takes vengeance on the Roman legions after her property is seized and her daughters raped following her husbands death. Reviewer Kimberly Gelderman writes " (its) a story of a woman who struggles to understand the Romans and tries to live with them in peace with her husband, King Prasutagus. When he dies, the Romans do not recognize her as the Iceni leader and begin a war that they wish they had never started. Seutonius, Roman army commander and eventually governor in Britain, is another historical figure in awe of the Celtic queen, and also wants peace. However, his Roman military subordinates make unspeakable trouble against Queen Boadicea and her daughters, Sydelle and Neila. Queen Boadicea sets Britain on fire and both races cause massive bloodshed between the two peoples. A fantastic story that weaves all of the elements of early Celtic life and struggles together with poetic flair that elevates the historical detail."

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists

"Augustus Caesar and his citizens were the very first leisure travelers", points out Tony Perrottet, the author of Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists "During the Pax Romana, from about 30 B.C. to 200 A.D., sightseers set off in droves to visit the wonders of their world, lounging in sumptuous seaside resorts and admiring attractions such as the Pyramids and the Parthenon."

The Romans loved to cluster by the beach, especially the Bay of Naples with its extravagant villas and legendary bacchanalian banquets. "But, why must I look at drunks staggering along the shore or noisy boating parties?'' the philosopher Seneca asked.

At pagan temples visitors forked over hefty donations to huckster priests to see a Gorgons skin, a Cyclops skull or the relics of Homeric heroes. Roman sightseers battled freelance tour guides called mystagogi (''those who explain the sacred places to foreigners''), whose aggressive harangues were no less exasperating than those of today. At every ancient site, souvenir vendors pressed forward with engraved glass vials, knockoff silver statues or lucky charms, as did fast-food vendors selling nuts, figs and cut-rate sausages of dubious quality.

Monday, May 12, 2003

"Render Unto Caesar" to debut in August

By Gillian Bradshaw

Hermogenes is a young Greek from 1st century Alexandria, heir to a noble and vibrant society, but he yearns to be a citizen of Rome, the present rulers of the world. When Hermogenes father is granted Roman citizenship, it appears as if his family has found favor from the gods--except then a business deal goes sour and Hermogenes father dies at sea. It is left to Hermogenes to reclaim all monies owed to the family--including a debt from a very well connected Roman consul who has reneged on his obligations and refuses to deal with "Greek trash."

Hermogenes travels to Rome to reclaim what he is owed and finds it is no simple matter. Along the way, he will encounter base desire and power struggles, plots within plots, and a beautiful woman gladiator who is more than she seems. His life is in danger, and ultimately Hermogenes is left with the question:

Can the conferring of a title make one truly Roman? And if not, how far will a man go to satisfy honor?

Latest Falco mystery, "The Accusers", set for July release

by Lindsey Davis

Having returned from his trip to Londinium, Falco takes up employment with Paccius Africanus and Silius Italicus, two lawyers at the top of their trade. For the trial of a senator they need Falco to make an affidavit confirming repayment of a loan. Having been out of the country and starved of Forum gossip for some time, Falco has little interest in this trial, so he makes his deposition and then leaves. The prosecution are successful and a large financial judgement is made, but one month later the senator is dead, apparently by suicide. The heirs are now in a situation of not having to pay up, and the prosecutor Silius Italicus suddenly decides to seek out Falco. With a little coercion, Falco joins the prosecution in seeking to persuade a magistrate to instigate a new trial against Metellus son. Blinded by the vision of rich pickings to be gained by the prosecution, Falco temporarily forgets that, if they fail, the financial penalties levelled against the informers who brought the case are potentially enormous.

"The Love-Artist" to be released in the U.K. in June

By Jane Alison

Alison reimagines Ovids sojourn on the east coast of the Black Sea, where Emperor Augustus, in the middle of a campaign to restore morality to his new empire, has banished the poet, displeased by the success of his Loves and The Art of Love. Here Ovid meets Xenia, a wild-eyed young woman who lives in isolation. The only literate person in her community, Xenia acts as town mystic, casting spells, healing the sick and telling futures. Ovid, who admits he believes in Amazons, with "their strong sweating thighs clutching galloping horses, wild howls coming from their parched, cracked mouths," is eager to be stunned by the "fishy, monstrous, unreal." He imagines the jealous, stormy Xenia to be his Galatea and sweeps her back to Rome, where she unwittingly becomes the muse for the lost Medea, his darkest work.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Imperial Governor rereleased

Sent to Wales to capture the gold mines, Roman General Suetonius Paulinus faces the fury of Queen Boudiccas tribes, all united against Neros corrupt officials.

Reviewer Iain S. Palin writes "This is an account of life in the Roman army, how it worked (and conquered almost all its foes in the process), and of the mind set of its commanders is absolutely gripping. The author takes you back to a totally different time, a different society, a different way of thinking, and immerses you. Suetonius is the consummate professional soldier and he succeeds because of his professionalism and his refusal to panic when all seems lost. But he has no respect for the people he has been sent from distant Rome to govern, and as events proceed this develops into a blind hatred for the rebels. This brings him into dispute with his political masters in Rome, who want a quick "reconstruction", and causes his downfall."

"A Mist of Prophecies" is now available in paperback.

Its 48 B.C. and the Empire is wracked by civil war and civic unrest. In Rome, the beautiful and enigmatic seeress, Cassandra, has everyone from Forum "chin-waggers" to high-society matrons entranced by her convulsionlike attacks of prophecy. But, a whisper of "She's poisoned me!" to Gordianus the Finder just before dying in his arms brings Gordianus out of retirement and into the hunt for her killer. Seven of Romes most influential women including Caesars wife, Calpurnia attend the seeress humble funeral. All have something to do with Cassandras fate, just as she, in secret ways, has something to do with the fate of Rome itself.

Steven Saylors ninth entry in the Gordianus the Finder series of historical fiction novels, "A Mist of Prophecies" is now available in paperback. Steven says hes hard at work on the next novel, which takes Gordianus to Egypt to meet Cleopatra. It should be published about this time next year.