Ancient Rome

Thumbs up for S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. History.

No, I am not one of those people who reads histories of Rome so I can point at current political events and say “See, this is just like that!” Comparing, say, ~240 years of American power to ~2,000 years of Roman power shows a problematic understanding of scale.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis. Historical mystery.

It can safely be said that I am not really a murder mystery reader; they have to have something else going on. In this case what’s going on is the Roman Empire, a political plot, a love story with a prickly patrician girl, and a whole lot of funny. Marcus Didius Falco, the eternally unlucky private eye, is good company, the historical details are lush without bogging down the story, and the wonderful quirky style that I loved so much from The Course of Honor is in full play here.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Pompeii by Robert Harris. Historical fiction.

Marcus Attilius Primus, aqueduct engineer from a long line of aqueduct engineers, tries to figure out why the water’s stopped running; and discovers more than he bargained for. (Hint: the title’s a spoiler.) Not Great with a capital G, but a good solid page-turner with a really impressive depth of historical research about the working of the Roman aqueducts.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Eagle of the Ninth (aka The Eagle) by Rosemary Sutcliff. Young adult historical fiction.

Ah. It’s hard to write reviews when you read a couple of amazing books in close proximity, because you want to convey how each one moved you without repeating yourself or resorting to meaningless hyperbole. (OMG JUST READ IT ALREADY. Etc.) Well, a few chapters into The Eagle of the Ninth I realized that it was going to be one of my favorite books of all time.… >> Read more