Reviews for A Mist of Prophecies, by Steven Saylor

traveller1's review

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In the later years of the life of Gordianus the Finder. Here Rome waits for Caesar or Pompey to emerge victorious from their civil war, and while Rome waits, people die in the city. In particular, a female seer, who has inveigled herself into the homes of Rome's most powerful women, and into the bed of the married Gordianus!

The reason this woman was poisoned was her involvement with Caesar. She was not in fact a seer, but an actress hired by the general to infiltrate the women of Rome as a spy. She becomes caught up in the political wheeling and dealing, and one of the players finds it necessary to assassinate her.

Gordianus investigates, finding eventually the guilty party. He receives a reward from Caesar's wife, and a new adopted son. Interestingly, again, the different portrayals of historical figures. For Colleen Mc, Calpurnia was entirely unimportant, for Saylor she schemes and plots, defending the interests of her husband.

At the end of the novel Gordianus and his wife set sail for Egypt, in a bid to find a cure for her illness.

This is the last Gordianus novel, to date. What shall I read now? I have been ploughing through Saylor for the past two months.

silverstarswept's review

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Okay, this one was more of a 3.5 star read for me.

It was an interesting change of pace from the intense, military-based [b:Rubicon|102711|Rubicon (Roma Sub Rosa, #7)|Steven Saylor||2804176] and [b:Last Seen in Massilia|102716|Last Seen in Massilia (Roma Sub Rosa, #8)|Steven Saylor||99034] - A Mist of Prophecies is a little more relaxed, maybe because the murder to be solved has no deadline. Gordianus is seeking Cassandra's killer largely for his own purposes, and working to his own schedule.

There were more things I disliked about this book than any other Roma Sub Rosa book so far: I felt that Gordianus' affair with Cassandra was out of character, unnecessary, and frankly kinda gross, I'm honestly a little bit confused as to why Steven Saylor has barely given Eco more than a passing mention since [b:A Murder on the Appian Way|102724|A Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa, #5)|Steven Saylor||99041], and I could never quite decide if I enjoyed the slow, largely memory and interview based pace of the book.

That being said, there was also plenty to love. I really appreciated the insight into what might have been going on among the "wives and mothers and daughters and sisters who had been left behind by both allies and enemies" while men like Pompey and Caesar were off fighting their battles in the East. I felt the narrative structure was interesting - the way Gordianus' memories of Cassandra went from the last time he saw her, to the first, and all the way back round to the last again (with the use of the same passage to describe her death both times) was cool, even if I did internally sigh a little every time the political scene Gordianus had been describing was interrupted by the appearance of Cassandra.

One thing I feel Saylor has been particularly strong at through the whole series is complex characterisation, with plenty of characters - mostly historical figures - who I love despite everything about their personality, or who I just love to hate, or who I change my mind about every other page. Perhaps the preeminent example of this for me is vain, ambitious, restless, quicksilver Caelius, whom I couldn't help but love, and whom I'm sure I'll miss over the rest of the series.