Steven Saylor's lastest novel: Empire, the Novel of Imperial Rome is being released this week, and it's a whopping good read!
In Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome, the story ends with Lucius Pinarius, nephew of Julius Caesar, torn between loyalties to Marcus Antonius and Octavius. Like his more immediate ancestors, in the end he is a survivor too. The story ends with Pinarius handing down the amulet to his grandson.
The new novel spans the period from A.D. 14 to 141, and thus deals with far fewer Pinarii then the earlier novel. They are:
LUCIUS The Lightning Reader (A.D. 14‑19)
TITUS AND KAESO The Twins (A.D. 40‑68)
LUCIUS The Seeker (A.D. 69‑100)
MARCUS The Sculptor (A.D. 113‑141)
This makes it in some ways an easier read than "Roma."
All but Marcus, a contemporary of Hadrian, live through a turbulent era and much at the whim of the emperors, the Julio-Claudian cousins of the Pinarii, and later, Domitian. That gives the author occasion to draw on the ancient sources and provide us with a most vivid picture of the era. The characters of the Pinarii themselves are not always pleasant ones: the survivor instinct is strong and may make the reader uneasy at times. An apparently unquestioning Pinarius adhering to a Nero is not easy to take.
Other than the Pinarii about whom, beyond the above-mentioned Lucius, we do not know anything, the characters surrounding them are historical figures: The emperors, their spouses, children, lovers and freedmen; and philosophers, writers, actors, and so on, such Mnester, Seneca, Petronius, Dio of Prusa, Epictetus, Apollonius of Tyana, Martial, Suetonius, and the architect Apollodorus who among other projects designed Trajan's column. And then there is the great fire of Rome, the eruption of Vesuvius, and last but not least the Colosseum: drawing on our rather limited sources, Mr. Saylor recreates the opening day of the great edifice with wonderful imagination.