His father raised the leather strap over his head, then solemnly placed it around Potitius’s neck. He smiled and ran his hand over his son’s silky blond hair, a gesture of affection to seal the last moment of his boyhood. “You are a man now, my son. I pass the amulet of Fascinus to you.”
From the fog of pre-history to Augustan times, the amulet is handed down from generation to generation. Two families, the Potitii an the Pinarii, consecutive possessors of the amulet, are witnesses and participants in the founding of Rome and its expansions in this new and sweeping novel by Steven Saylor. They claim to be descendents of the god Fascinus and the demigod Hercules.
In Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome (St. Martin's Press 2007, 555 Pages) Steven Saylor skillfully weaves ancient tradition and history into his story of Rome.
The novel, which I think is the first one to cover such a time span in a single volume, is an excellent introduction to the early history of Rome and the republic, and it gives readers more than just politics, war and conquest. Hopefully it will lead them to further exploration.
The prose is uneven in places but soars in others, and the dialogues tend to get a bit stilted.
All in all it’s a good read indeed.