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    Review of A MIST OF PROPHECIES by Steven Saylor (see his website)


    St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2002

    With Caesar and Pompey facing one another in Greece, Rome itself is left to be governed by Caesar's lieutenants. Poverty, debt, decades of civil war, and decades of swiftly changing alliances have unsettled Rome, but also made it seem to be a perfect target for men unscrupulous enough to seize a time when the armies are largely away from Italy, and when the mob can become king. Gordianus, the Finder, has fallen on hard times. Like many others, he has had to borrow and now finds himself deep in debt. Yet, his new friendship and passion with the strange seeress, Cassandra, sustains him while the rest of his life, and his city, fail around him. When Cassandra is poisoned and dies in his arms, Gordianus sets out to find the killer even though he knows that the murderer is likely to be one of the seven powerful women who attend Cassandra's funeral--women far beyond his power to damage.

    Gordianus's investigation, interspersed with flashbacks of his growing relationship with Cassandra, takes him into the heart of conspiracy and the soul of the ancient Roman Republic which was then failing around him. His trips to the forum to meet with the 'chin-waggers,' the sight of lictors, axes bared in the City itself, and into the slave-ridden households of ambitious women, scheming while their husbands and lovers battle for control ring true.

    Author Steven Saylor (see more reviews of novels by this author) powerfully conveys both the strange days of the Roman Republic's death, and the more humble striving of one man to seek the truth about the brutal murder of a woman who acted as a beggar, but perhaps was also a blackmailer, a spy, or a madwoman. In Saylor's work, and in the small doings of a common citizen, Rome becomes far more real than in many of the histories of battles and great men.

    A MIST OF PROPHECIES continues Saylor's excellent ROMA SUB ROSA series and left me looking forward to the next novel--of Cleopatra and Egypt in the last days of the Ptolemies.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 9/20/02

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