Reviews for The Triumph of Caesar, by Steven Saylor

traveller1's review

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3.0

I was a little put off this work by the scads of mildly negative reviews here on grs, however, I found it to be on par with the earlier Gordianus adventures. It is true that the four triumphs celebrated by Caesar (46 BCE) dominate the novel, but Saylor weaves his tale of intrigue and murder with his usual skill between these public elements to create an entertaining story.

Here Gordianus uncovers, just in the nick (literally) of time, a plot to assassinate Caesar, and manages to save the Dictator's life (thought, of course, he was fated to die another day, as are all men). Along the way we meet several of the more important figures of the time: Cleopatra, Vercingetorix, Cicero, Brutus, and of course, Caesar and Calpurnia.

From many observations made by the characters in the novel it may well be that our noble Finder is to retire, and the subsequent novels in the series to feature his daughter Diana as the protagonist, assisted by her husband (the muscle). Should the Finder be allowed to "fade away" as did Sherlock Holmes, or should he die in some noble and grandiose manner?

What I found interesting in Saylor's portrayal of his characters was how they differ from those of other historical novelists. What leaps into my mind is McCullough's depiction of Caesar as a near superman, able to deal with each and every problem with near preternatural ability, while Caesar's wife, the quiet Calpurnia, is a mere cypher. Not so with Saylor. His Caesar is all too much a man, befuddled by events, and surprised by outcomes, while Saylor's Calpurnia does the plotting and scheming behind his back.

Which understanding of events two millennia in the past is correct, I do not know, however, both provide an entertaining read, and one more window into the nature of ourselves.

silverstarswept's review

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4.0

This was a pretty tame entry, I think, in terms of the fact that there's no immediate threat to Gordianus' life, just about everyone knows when Caesar actually does die, and Rome has finally emerged from the various wars which have pervaded the past 4 or 5 novels. I did like that Gordianus finally gave Diana a chance to prove her own worth as a detective, and the set-up for future events was super interesting (i.e. the hints at Brutus' independent streak and the glimpses of Octavius before he became Augustus). The mystery itself was decent, and I really enjoyed the interviews with figures like Vercingetorix, Arsinoƫ, and Cleopatra - the glimpses into their own personally miseries were very moving.
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