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Michigan State University

Classical Studies: Historical Fiction


Just for fun, you may want to read some of the historical novels gathered on this page.  Feel free to forward other suggestions to Jon Harrison.

For more titles consult Historical Novels : Ancient History.

Selected Titles : Rome, A-C

The Antagonists / Ernest K. Gann. New York, Simon and Schuster [1970] 287pp. Main Library PS3513.A56 A65 : Also known by the title Masada, this novel tells the story of this small group of 960 Jews who defied the Roman Empire by refusing to give in to Roman demands. It tells the story of Elazer Ben Yair, leader of the Jews, and Flavius Silva, general of Rome's elite Tenth Legion. It tells the story of how Elazer and his small group decided to commit suicide when it became apparent the Roman army would soon breach the walls of Masada. This mass suicide rocked the ancient world, and many peoples oppressed by the Roman Empire took heart in the symbol of a small people who never gave in. The alternative to giving in facing the fortresss defenders was hardly more attractive than death. Once the Romans defeated them, the men could expect to be sold off as slaves or crucified, and the women would be condemned to slavery and prostitution.

Antony and Cleopatra: A Novel (Masters of Rome series) Colleen McCullough.  New York : Simon & Schuster, 2008.  567pp. Main Library PR9619.3.M32 A58 2007  : McCullough continues her Masters of Rome series with a chronicle of one of history's most infamous love affairs. After the death of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Caesar's ambitious and brash cousin, and Octavian, Caesar's adopted son and designated heir, agree to jointly administer the far-flung empire: Antony in the East and Octavian in the West. It's not a happy arrangement, though, and their rivalry to rule Rome is the overarching theme of this sprawling, captivating saga. After a disastrous campaign to subdue the Parthians, Antony turns to Cleopatra, the enigmatic and fabulously wealthy queen of Egypt, to replenish his war chest. Determined to make Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar, ruler of Rome, Cleopatra seduces Antony and soon has him as soft as a mushy pudding. Meanwhile, with the aid of his wife and Marcus Agrippa, Octavian secures his position in Rome and Italia. Prodded by Cleopatra, Antony gathers his forces in Greece for an invasion of Italia. The tragic denouement is, in McCullough's capable hands, no less compelling for being so well known. As with the previous volumes in this series, the author's scholarship and larger-than-life characters bring a tempestuous Rome to life.

Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa Series #2) / Steven Saylor.  New York : Ivy Books, 1993, c1992.  321pp. Main Library PS3569.A96 A89 1993 : Saylor interweaves history and suspense into another seamless thriller featuring Gordianus the Finder, the savvy ancient Roman detective who debuted to rave reviews in "Roman Blood". In 72 B.C., at the zenith of the Spartacus slave revolt, Gordianus, a native Roman, is summarily summoned south to the elegant coastal resort of Baiae on the Bay of Naples. Though two slaves stand accused of the murder of Lucius Licinius, the cousin and employee of Marcus Crassus, one of the richest and most ambitious men in the empire, Gordianus is commissioned to unmask the real culprit. If he fails to do so within the prescribed three days, Crassus has decreed that all of the slaves serving his estate will be sacrificed as retribution during the course of the traditional funeral games. Constrained by time, circumstances, and the political realities spawned by the success of the Spartacan army, Gordianus works feverishly in order to prevent the wholesale slaughter of 99 innocent men, women, and children. A marvelously authentic slice of antiquity that will serve as a savory treat for fans of both mystery and historical fiction. Booklist.

Arrows of Fury / Anthony Riches. 2010.  Empire series #2. : The Battle of the Lost Eagle saved Hadrian's Wall, but the new Roman governor of Britannia must stamp out the rebellion of the northern tribes or risk losing the province. Rampaging south with sword and flame under the command of their murderous chieftain Calgus, they have stretched his forces to the limit. For Marcus - now simply Centurion Corvus of the 1st Tungrian cohort - the campaign has become doubly dangerous. As reinforcements flood into Britannia he is surrounded by new officers with no reason to protect him from the emperor's henchmen. Death could result from a careless word as easily as from an enemy spear Worse, one of them is close on his heels. While Marcus is training two centuries of Syrian archers to survive a barbarian charge and then take the fight back to their enemy, the new prefect of the 2nd Tungrians has discovered his secret. Only a miracle can save Marcus and the men who protect him from disgrace and death ...Anthony Riches once again brings meticulous research together with brilliant storytelling to capture the authentic feel of what life was like for the Roman Army in a brutal war with a remorseless enemy.

Ashes of Britannia (Warrior Queen Series) / Haley Elizabeth Garwood.  Writers Block, Inc., 2001.  390pp. Available through interlibrary loan  : An excellently written book about the life and times of a little known historical queen. Boadicea is a Celtic queen, mother, and Druid priestess who fought the enormous Roman army which invaded what is now known as Great Britain. It is a story of a woman who struggles to understand the Romans and tries to live with them in peace with her husband, King Prasutagus. When he dies, the Romans do not recognize her as the Iceni leader and begin a war that they wish they had never started. Seutonius, Roman army commander and eventually governor in Britain, is another historical figure in awe of the Celtic queen, and also wants peace. However, his Roman military subordinates make unspeakable trouble against Queen Boadicea and her daughters, Sydelle and Neila. Queen Boadicea sets Britain on fire and both races cause massive bloodshed between the two peoples. A fantastic story that weaves all of the elements of early Celtic life and struggles together with poetic flair that elevates the historical detail.

Attila / William Napier.  London : Orion, 2006.  470pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   The dawn of the 5th century AD, and the Roman Empire totters on the edge of the abyss. Already divided into two, the Imperium is looking dangerously vulnerable to her European rivals. The huge barbarian tribes of the Vandals and Visigoths sense that their time is upon them....But, unbeknownst to all these great players, a new power is rising in the East. A strange nation of primitive horse-warriors has been striking terror on border peoples for fifty years. But few realise what is about to happen. For these so called 'Huns' now have a new leader. And his name is Attila - 'the Scourge of God.'...Thus begins a saga of warfare, lust and power which brought the whole of the Christian world to its knees - and ended in blood on the fields of France. It is a story of two men: Attila the Hun and Aetius the Roman. One who wanted to destroy the world, and one who fought one final battle to save it...

Attila: The Gathering of the Storm / William Napier. New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2010.  336pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   The pseudonymous Napier continues his excellent portrayal of Attila's turbulent life in this second installment to his trilogy (after Attila). The colorful story is told by a Roman scribe, Priscus of Panium, and begins in 441 A.D. as Attila returns to claim the Hun throne after 30 years in exile. Attila, bitter and full of hatred for Rome (and pretty much everybody else), is determined to destroy the Roman and Chinese empires, and the book is rife with Attila's bloody machinations as he murders his rivals, slaughters enemy armies, and uses guile and deception to amass allies. Napier also smartly tells of events on the Roman side as conspiracies and rivalries split the Roman empire, and Aëtius, an out-of-favor Roman general, is tasked with saving Rome from the Hun invaders. The hitch: Aëtius and Attila are old friends from their exile days. Alliances, betrayal, assassination, gory battles, torture, and cruelty mark this blood-soaked historical, and Napier describes it all vividly and with sword-pounding impact.  Publishers Weekly.

Augustus: A Novel / John Edward Williams.  New York, Viking Press [1972]  305pp.  Main Library PS3545.I5286 A8 : A mere eighteen years of age when his uncle, Julius Caesar, is murdered, Octavius Caesar prematurely inherits rule of the Roman Republic. Surrounded by men who are jockeying for power–Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, and Mark Antony–young Octavius must work against the powerful Roman political machinations to claim his destiny as first Roman emperor. Sprung from meticulous research and the pen of a true poet, Augustus tells the story of one man’s dream to liberate a corrupt Rome from the fancy of the capriciously crooked and the wildly wealthy.

The Beacon at Alexandria / Gillian Bradshaw. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1986. 376pp.  Main Library PS3552.R235 B4 1986 : When Charis learns that her father has betrothed her to the hated Roman governor Festinus, she enlists the aid of her brother and flees to Alexandria. There, disguised as a eunuch, she begins to study Hippocratic medicine under the tutelage of a patient Jewish physician. The young woman excels as a healer and her fame spreads. Political intrigues force her to frontier outposts of the Roman Empire where she practices as an army doctor. She succeeds in maintaining her disguise until she is captured and held prisoner by the Goths during their uprising against the Romans. Bradshaw has superbly re-created the political, social, and intellectual climate of the 4th century A.D. and the attitudes towards woman and medicine in this excellent work.

Caesar: A Novel (Masters of Rome Series)  Colleen Mccullough.  Avon, 1999.  672pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : The story of Caesar's Gallic Wars (roughly 5851 b.c.) and return to Rome warfare, followed fictively and, in the main, meticulously, from Caesar's Commentaries. Again, the portraits are memorable--from Brutus (here, a money-mad ``wet fish'' with acne) to Cleopatra (scrawny, ugly, calmly plotting fratricide)--and the politicking is showy, sly, witty, and often deadly. At the close of Caesar's Women (1996), McCullough's fourth massive staging of the power wrests and wrestlings of mighty men of ancient Rome, Julius Caesar, a true colossus of skill and brilliance, had left for ``Further Gaul.'' Now, while mopping up the revolts in his detested Britannia of ``blue-painted relics,'' he receives word from Pompey the Great, First Man in Rome and husband of Caesar's lovely daughter Julia, that Julia and his mother are dead. Grief drains him, but oddly he grows in strength, proceeding to un-Romanized Gaul, pacifying tribe after tribe, and eventually defeating Vercingetorix, an ambitious but inexperienced leader out to unite Gaul, who would not accept Caesar's offer of Rome's ``light rein'' in a ``shrinking world.'' While Caesar with his beloved legions win Gaul with extraordinary tactics and hardship, his foes in Rome have swung Pompey--once a Golden Boy, now tarnished with fatuous conceit and lack of political savvy--to their cause, which is, simply, to destroy Caesar. Although scrupulous in his observance of law, Caesar crosses the Rubicon to become Rome's aggressor. (McCullough appropriately uses Plutarch's account of his utterance: ``Let the dice fly high!'' instead of the gloomy ``The die is cast.'') While temporarily Dictator, afterward, Caesar pursues Pompey's armies until the Great One's sad end. In the wings for Book Six: the gorgeous Mark Antony, slinky Octavius, and Cleopatra. Rewarding but rugged terrain for the casual reader. Armchair generals, though, should love this--perhaps with De bello Gallico at the ready. Maps, glossary, and photos of sculptured portraits of the time.

Caesar : Let the Dice Fly (Masters of Rome Series #5) / Colleen McCullough.  New York : W. Morrow, c1997. 664pp.  Main Library PR9619.3.M32 C27 1997 : It is 54 B.C. Gaius Julius Caesar is sweeping through Gaul, crushing the fierce, long-haired warrior-kings who stand in his way. His victories in the name of Rome are epic, but the leaders of the Republic are not pleased - they are terrified. Where will the boundless ambition of Rome's most brilliant soldier stop? He must be destroyed before he can overthrow the government and install himself as Dictator.  The fifth historical novel  in Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series.

Caesar's Women (Masters of Rome Series #4)/ Colleen McCullough. New York : W. Morrow, c1996. 696pp. Main Library  PR9619.3.M32 C3 1996 : In the fourth book in her "Masters of Rome" series, McCullough (Fortune's Favorites, LJ 9/1/93) details Caesar's rise to power from 68-58 B.C. Caesar repeatedly outmaneuvers his enemies, who devise one scheme after another to bring about his political, economic, and social downfall. Eventually he allies himself with Pompey and Crassus to create a formidable triumverate. Despite the book's title, women play minor roles in the novel. Caesar consults his shrewd mother about strategy and depends on her to manage his household. He adores his daughter and misses her dead mother. Nonetheless, he consistently subordinates personal affection to political ambition, seducing the wives of his rivals and maintaining an emotional distance from his own wives and lovers. McCullough crams the book with details about Roman life and politics and includes many pages of notes and a glossary. Those readers following the series and others with an intense interest in the time period will enjoy this installment.

Captain of Rome / John Stack.  2010.  Master of the Seas #2. : The second installment of the thrilling maritime adventure; two mighty empires battle each other for control of the high seas. Atticus and his companion legionary, Septimus, are confirmed in their roles in the expanded Roman Navy. Their opposition, the Carthaginians are on the warpath, determined not only to reconquer Sicily, but also to take the attack to Rome itself. Hampered by the presence of a well-connected but treacherous young senator, and by the machinations of Scipio in Rome, the two and their vessel are both involved in a series of horrific running battles and dangerous political infighting. The book culminates in the battle of Agrigentum, the largest sea batle of the ancient world.

Carthage : A Novel / Ross Leckie.  Canongate, 2010.  212pp. :  Ross Leckie tells of the final Punic War: the story of a great city and a people’s utter eradication under the relentless rise of Rome. But its chief characters, one the bastard son of Hannibal, the other of Scipio, would have wished it otherwise. Both seek peace, but are caught up in war. As they struggle between duty and belief, they stand to lose everything in the face of their fathers’ devastating legacies. Written as a series of letters and entries, the multiple voices of the novel are woven into a masterful exploration of human drives, political intrigue, and the process of history making itself.

Caspian Gates / Harry Sidebottom.  Warrior of Rome 4.  2011.  : AD262 - the Imperium is in turmoil after the struggle for the throne. Furthermore, Ephesus, Asia's metropolis, lies in ruins, shattered by a mighty earthquake. Its citizens live in fear as the mob overwhelms the city, baying for blood to avenge the gods who have punished them.  Yet an even greater threat to the Empire advances from the North. The barbaric Goth tribes sail towards Ephesus, determined to pillage the city. Only Ballista, Warrior of Rome, knows the ways of the barbarians, and only he can defeat them.  The Goths' appetite for brutality and destruction is limitless and before long Ballista is locked into a deadly bloodfeud, with an enemy that has sworn to destroy him - and the Imperium - at all costs.

Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa Series #3) / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 1993.  430pp.  Main Library PS3569.A96 C3 1993 : Using scholarly historical insight and evocative storytelling that brings to life the glories of ancient Rome, Steven Saylor takes the reader from the bloody lines of clashing Roman armies to the backrooms of the Senate floor, where power-hungry politicians wrestle the Fates for control of Rome's destiny....With the consular election drawing near, Rome is fiercely divided between the conservative Cicero and the tempestuous Catilina, whose followers are rumored to be plotting a blood-thirsty siege for power if their leader fails to win office....Gordianus the Finder, retired to his Etruscan farm, is happy to be free of the intrigue and danger of the capital. But when his old friend Cicero enlists the Finder in an elaborate plot to control Catilina, Gordianus is drawn back into a familiar world. Now caught in a cloak-and-dagger political struggle for the fate of the Republic, Gordianus finds himself strangely drawn to the controversial candidate. Is Catilina really a subversive renegade, or are Cicero suspicions part of an even greater conspiracy? When a headless corpse ominously appears on his farm, Gordianus knows he must unlock the secret of Catilina's Riddle before Rome tears herself apart.

Centurion / Simon Scarrow.  2007.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries    A gripping new novel featuring Roman army officers Macro and Cato on their most dangerous mission yet. In the first century AD the Roman Empire faces a new threat from its long-standing enemy Parthia. Parthia is vying with Rome for control of Palmyra -- an officially neutral kingdom. Palmyra's royal household is on the brink of open revolt, and so a task force under the command of experienced soldiers Macro and Cato is dispatched to defend its king and guard its borders. When Parthia hears of the Roman army's presence, it starts amassing its troops for war. Macro's cohort must march against the enemy, deep into treacherous territory. If Palmyra is not to fall into the clutches of Parthia, they will have to defeat superior numbers in a desperate siege. The quest for a lasting peace has never been more challenging, nor more critical for the future of the empire.

Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina / by Robert Graves.  New York : Vintage Books, c1962.  583pp.  Main Library PR6013.R35 C45 1962 : Picking up where the extraordinarily interesting I, Claudius ends, Claudius the God tells the tale of Claudius' 13-year reign as Emperor of Rome. Naturally, it ends when Claudius is murdered--believe me, it's not giving anything away to say this; the surprise is when someone doesn't get poisoned. While Claudius spends most of his time before becoming emperor tending to his books and his writings and trying to stay out of the general line of corruption and killings, his life on the throne puts him into the center of the political maelstrom.

Cleopatra's Daughter / Michelle Moran.  New York : Crown Publishers, 2009. 448pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Moran's latest foray into the world of classical history centers upon the children of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. After the death of their parents, twins Alexander and Selene and younger brother Ptolemy are in a dangerous position, left to the mercy of their father's greatest rival, Octavian Caesar. However, Caesar does not kill them as expected, but takes the trio to Rome to be paraded as part of his triumphant return and to demonstrate his solidified power. As the twins adapt to life in Rome in the inner circle of Caesar's family, they grow into adulthood ensconced in a web of secrecy, intrigue and constant danger. Told from Selene's perspective, the tale draws readers into the fascinating world of ancient Rome and into the court of Rome's first and most famous emperor. Deftly encompassing enough political history to provide context, Moran never clutters her narrative with extraneous facts. Readers may be frustrated that Selene is more observer than actor, despite the action taking place around her, but historical fiction enthusiasts will delight in this solid installment from a talented name in the genre.  Bonus materials related to the novel, including pictures of the author touring Ancient Rome while conducting background research for the novel.

Cleopatra's Heir / Gillian Bradshaw.  Forge, 2003.  384pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries :   Fascinating historical figures Julius Caesar, Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra roam the ancient Egyptian desert and the glittering city of Alexandria in this latest from classics scholar Bradshaw (The Sand-Reckoner). The hero is Cleopatra's son Caesarion, whom she has declared to be Caesar's offspring. Her ploy fails when Caesar's adopted Roman son and successor, Octavian (later Augustus), conquers Egypt and sends soldiers to attack troops fleeing with the 18-year-old Caesarion. The young man, after suffering an epileptic fit, is left for dead, but has only been wounded. Waking, he escapes, but another fit leaves him unconscious on a desert roadway, where Ani, an Egyptian merchant with a small caravan of merchandise, finds and saves him. Caesarion, who is Greek (like all royalty in Egypt at this time), is intelligent enough to conceal his background, calling himself Arion, but he cannot hide his aristocratic ways or his disdain for a mere Egyptian who treats a king as a commoner. He resents the merchant, but agrees at last to write his letters for him. Slowly, the patient and generous Ani wins Arion's respect; his beautiful daughter Melanthe falls in love with Arion, who is interested, but cannot acknowledge loving a commoner. While the story is light on action, Bradshaw's attention to Arion's growth into a caring person and the convincing historical detail she musters give the novel substance, but it is the final (and thoroughly fictional) confrontation between Octavian and Caesarion that will truly make it attractive to history buffs.

The Conspiracy : A Novel / John Hersey.  New York, Knopf, 1972.  274pp. Main Library PS3515.E7715 C6  : Covers the creation and suppression of the Pisonian conspiracy against Nero in 64-65 BC  Hersey's epislatory novel is told primarily through the exchange of memoranda between Tigellinus, co-Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and various others, mainly Paenus, tribune of the secret police. These memoranda often include intercepted letters, especially those between the Stoic philosopher Seneca and his nephew, the poet Lucan. This technique allows Hersey to extend the number of voices in the first person and to provide insight into both sides of the conspiracy.

The Course of Honour / Lindsay Davis. St. Martin's Griffin, 2009.  352pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : In ancient Rome, ambitious citizens who aspired to political power, to become one of the ruling elite—a senator, had to follow what was known as “The Course of Honor.” This course had only one unbreakable rule: a senator is forbidden to marry a slave, even a freed slave. When the soldier Vespasian meets an interesting girl in the imperial palace, he doesn’t know she is a slave in the household of the imperial family. But he is inexorably drawn in by her intelligence and charisma. Yet as Vespasian slowly rises from near-obscurity and as emperor after emperor plays out their own deadly, seductive games of lust and conquest, the future is something no one could imagine. No one could believe that a country-born army man might win the throne—no one, that is, except a slave girl who, with the future Emperor, begins a daring course of honor of her own.

The Curse Maker (Roman Noir #2).   Minotaur Books, 2011.  300pp.  Available through interlibrary loan : The Curse-Maker is the sequel to he award-winning Nox Dormienda, the first book of the Roman noir series created by Kelli Stanley (City of Dragons). Wedding impeccably researched history to prose and themes reminiscent of classic hard-boiled writers, The Curse-Maker is a thrilling and suspenseful journey into a dark corner of Roman Britain you've never seen before.   When Roman physician Arcturus and his stunning wife, Gwyna, arrive at Bath for a holiday, a dead body is floating in the sacred spring. It turns out that the murdered man is a curse-maker whose invocations actually come true, and as murder follows murder, it looks like there's now a curse on Arcturus.   This is an exciting and exotic story of a spa town where people go to heal...only to wind up dead. And it takes the doctor-investigator on a dark road -- into Roman cemeteries, silver mines, and underground water tunnels -- to comprehend the twisted mind of a killer bent on revenge.

Selected Titles, Rome : D-E

Dark North / Gillian Bradshaw.  Severn House, 2007.  315pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : Bradshaw's latest is a very readable story set in 208 CE in Roman Britain. The Roman emperor is determined to subdue the heathens in the north once and for all. Memnon, a Moor from Ethiopia who has served the emperor for over a decade, is a member of one of the cavalry units chosen to fight. Despite the occasional harassment he suffers because of his black skin, Memnon loves army life. In the course of the battle, he becomes a hero, is appointed (much against his will) to lead his unit, befriends the emperor's staff, proves his worth as an army scout, and falls in love with not one but two women. In Bradshaw's capable hands, what could have been a dry description of the Roman battle for Britain becomes a lively, gripping, ultimately satisfying tale of love, war, treachery, intrigue, and heroism. Memnon is an unlikely but very human hero, as lovable as he is brave. Give this one to those who like a nice mix of adventure and romance in their historical fiction.

Daughters of Rome.  Kate Quinn.  New York : Berkley Books, 2011.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : A.D. 69. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything-especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister Marcella is more aloof, content to witness history rather than make it. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside-down, both women must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor...and one Empress.

A Dying Light in Corduba / Lindsey Davis. New York : Mysterious Press, [1998]. 428pp. Main Library PR6054.A8925 D95 1998 : Nobody is poisoned at the dinner for the Society of Olive Oil Producers; the assassination attempt comes afterward. Falco ought to know, he is at the banquet along with some unexpected guests, including Anacrites the Chief Spy and Falco's own hostile brat of a brother-in-law, Aelianus. Right from the first, Falco eyes the entertainment - which includes a sinuous Spanish dancer scantily dressed as Diana the Huntress - with suspicion....When Anacrites is gravely wounded later that night, the only clue is a golden arrow last seen in the bow of the party dancer, a lady now on her way to Corduba, Spain. As it happens, Falco is facing fatherhood for the first time and has promised his wife to stay by her side. Caught between Scylla and Charybdis, Falco's only solution is to take the patrician Helena with him, a decision that may prove to be a colossal mistake....For as Helena and Falco track the exotic dancer through the Iberian Peninsula, they discover a slippery scandal in the olive trade, a chilling trail of murders, and a killer without a conscience...a remorseless and cunning villain much too dangerous for a man distracted by a very pregnant wife.

The Eagle and the Raven : A Novel / by Pauline Gedge. New York : Dial Press, 1978. 694pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : Spanning three generations, this historical novel tells the tale of Boudicca, the most famous warrior of ancient Britain, and Caradoc, the son of a Celtic king, who sets out to unite the people of the Raven and lead them against Rome. Caradoc's objective is not easily accomplished as the Roman army advances into Britain, raping Celtic women and burning villages to the ground. His efforts are also met with fierce opposition from Aricia, the vain queen of a northern tribe who swears allegiance to the Romans after Caradoc slights her, and from Gladys, Caradoc’s warrior sister who falls in love with her Roman captor. Unfortunately, Caradoc’s endeavors are left unresolved when he is taken prisoner, but Boudicca, a strong-willed woman, ultimately takes up the cause that was Caradoc’s legacy.

The Eagle and the Wolves / Simon Scarrow.  New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2004. 306pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   It's AD 44, and as Vespasian and the Second Legion forge ahead in their campaign to seize the southwest, Macro and newly appointed centurion Cato are ordered by Vespasian to provide Verica, aged ruler of the Atrebates, with an army. They must train his tribal levies into a force that can protect him, enforce his rule, and take on the increasingly ambitious raids that the enemy is launching....But in this fourth installment of Simon Scarrow's epic series, open revolt is brewing. Despite the Atrebates' official allegiance to Rome, many are wary of the legions and want to resist the Roman invaders. Macro and Cato must first win the loyalty of the disgruntled levies before tackling the enemy. But can they succeed while surviving a deadly plot to destroy both them and their comrades serving with the eagles? In the midst of this highly volatile situation, Macro and Cato face the greatest test in their army careers. Theirs is a brazen tale of military adventure, political intrigue, and heroism, as only they stand between the destiny of Rome and bloody defeat.  4th installment of series.

The Eagle in the Sand / Simon Scarrow.  2006.   Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :  Trouble is brewing in Syria, on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire. With the troops in a deplorable state, centurions Macro and Cato are despatched to restore the competence of the cohort. But another challenge faces them as, Bannus, a local tribesman, is brewing up trouble and preaching violent opposition to Rome. As the local revolt grows in scale, Macro and Cato must stamp out corruption in the cohort and restore it to fighting fitness to quash Bannus -- before the eastern provinces are lost to the Empire forever!

Eagle in the Snow : A Novel of General Maximus and Rome's Last Stand / Wallace Breem.  New York, RuggedLand, 2003, c1970.  371pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Banished to the Empire's farthest outpost, veteran warrior Paulinus Maximus defends The Wall of Britannia from the constant onslaught of belligerent barbarian tribes. Bravery, loyalty, experience, and success lead to Maximus' appointment as "General of the West" by the Roman emperor, the ambition of a lifetime. But with the title comes a caveat: Maximus needs to muster and command a single legion to defend the perilous Rhine frontier....On the opposite side of the Rhine River, tribal nations are uniting; hundreds of thousands mass in preparation for the conquest of Gaul, and from there, a sweep down into Rome itself. Only a wide river and a wily general keep them in check....With discipline, deception, persuasion, and surprise, Maximus holds the line against an increasingly desperate and innumerable foe. Friends, allies, and even enemies urge Maximus to proclaim himself emperor. He refuses, bound by an oath of duty, honor, and sacrifice to Rome, a city he has never seen. But then circumstance intervenes. Now, Maximus will accept the purple robe of emperor, if his scrappy legion can deliver this last crucial victory against insurmountable odds. The very fate of Rome hangs in the balance....Combining the brilliantly realized battle action of Gates of Fire and the masterful characterization of Mary Renault's The Last of the Wine, Eagle in the Snow is nothing less than the novel of the fall of the Roman empire.

Eagle of the Ninth / Rosemary Sutcliff.  New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993 (originally Oxford University Press, 1954).  291pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries. : This classic tale is set in Britain in approximately 140 A.D. The Roman Legions have conquered Britain and are stationed all through the country in case a revolt is stirred by the tribesman. Marcus, our hero in the story, is injured horribly in a revolt from the townsfolk of the settlement he guards. His leg is severely wounded from the attack, and he will never be allowed to march in the legions again. Seeking shelter, for he lives in Rome, and, due to his leg, will not be able to make the journey back to Rome for some time, he goes to live with his uncle, who, after his years of service in the Roman legions, has settled in Britain. After he moves in with his amiable uncle, he meets a friend, a future wife and a loyal cub. There, he also hears of a rumor about his late father's destroyed legion, and its lost eagle. He decides to search for the eagle and embarks on a dangerous journey along with his faithful new ally.  Being adapted into a movie.  See The Eagle (official trailer).

Eagle's Conquest / Simon Scarrow.  New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2002.  310pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries. When Centurion Macro and his young subordinate, Optio Cato arrive on the shores of Britain to take part in the Emperor Claudius' invasion in AD 43, Macro knows the desperately outnumbered Roman army will be facing one of the toughest campaigns ever. Meanwhile, a sinister organization is secretly betraying the brave men of the legions. When assassination rumors coincide with the Emperor's arrival, the soldiers realize they are up against a force more ruthless than the Britons, and that time is running out if they are to prevent Claudius's glorious victory from turning to disaster. 2nd installment of series.

Eagle's Prey: A Novel of the Roman Army / Simon Scarrow.  New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2005. 306pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries   :     In "Prey", Macro and Cato are Centurions assigned to the 2nd Legion of the Roman Army. Led by Legate Vespasian (future Emperor), the 2nd is tasked with subduing native peoples in Britain in the mid first century, AD. Both are in their second seasons of campaigning on the Isle and look forward to the endgame in putting down what appears to be their primary foe in the barbarian Caratacus. Both Cato and Macro end up implicated in the 2nd's failure to contain Caratacus, and find themselves fighting an upstream battle against their superiors in a three-part conflict that's a running theme throughout Scarrow's series: 1) do what's moral and right; 2) do what's proper as a Roman legionary and for Rome; 3) minimize the personal and professional damage while often going against the grain. 5th installment of series.

The Eagle's Prophecy: A Novel of the Roman Army  / Simon Scarrow. New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2006.  310pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : It is spring A.D. 45 and Centurions Macro and Cato are trapped in Rome, waiting for the investigation in their involvement in the death of a fellow officer. It is then that the imperial secretary, the devious Narcissus, makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to rescue an imperial agent who has been captured by pirates operating from the Illyrian coast....With him were scrolls vital to the safety of the emperor and the future of Rome. However, Narcissus also sends Vitellius, an old enemy of the two centurions. The three officers set out from Ravenna with the imperial fleet but the pirates are forewarned and the Romans pay a heavy price. Outnumbered by the enemy, surrounded by rumors of treachery, and endangered by Vitellius’s desire to redeem himself, Centurions Macro and Cato must find the pirate base to avert a disaster that could destroy the emperor. 6th installment of series.

Emperor: The Death of Kings (Emperor Series #2) / Conn Iquidden.  Random House, 2009.  480pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   : After what was in effect a preamble-Emperor: The Gates of Rome (2003)-Julius Caesar takes center stage in this second fast-moving, action-oriented installment in Iggulden's projected four-book retelling of the Roman emperor's saga. Julius, a rising young officer assigned to the Roman-controlled northern coast of Africa, distinguishes himself in a bloody raid on the fortress of Mytilene only to have his transport ship captured by pirates. He and the crew are thrown into the hold to rot while awaiting a ransom that will likely ruin his young family back in Rome. After the ransom arrives, Julius gathers his loyal men and marches along the coast, impressing the locals (pirate collaborators all) into military service. He makes good on his bloody promise to wipe out the pirates, then takes his forces to Greece, where, at long odds, he defeats old king Mithridates, who is leading an insurrection that threatens Roman rule in all of Greece. Julius returns to Rome victorious and rich-only to find that the corruption and thuglike violence at the heart of the Republic has come near to destroying those he holds dear, including his wife and small daughter. Publisher Weekly.

Emperor: The Field of Swords (Emperor Series #3) / Conn Iquidden.  Random House, 2009.  480pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   : The third (after Emperor: The Gates of Rome and Emperor: The Death of Kings) of four projected volumes in the much-praised fiction series based on the life and times of Julius Caesar, this sweeping epic resumes the narrative in Spain where young Julius is fantasizing about the conquests of Alexander the Great. After four prosperous years with the Tenth Legion in Spain, Julius has discovered gold and decides to return to Rome with his loyal general, Brutus. There, rich with Spanish loot, Julius enters into an alliance with Pompey, a popular and autocratic military leader, and his older, wealthy co-consul, Crassus. Sponsored by this pair of influential and unscrupulous politicians, Julius is elected consul and assumes charge of an expedition to Gaul with full powers to take spoils and rule his conquests in the name of Rome. His eventual victory over Vercingetorix is only postponed by a daring side campaign in Britain. The novel ends as Julius receives word that Pompey plans to have him slain, and Julius, Brutus and Mark Antony prepare to march on Rome, leaving avid readers athirst to read the final volume. Iggulden has been gathering momentum gradually over his first two installments, and here he blasts full steam ahead, with blistering battle scenes ("there was more flesh than grass") and rapier-sharp political intrigue. Publisher Weekly.

Emperor : The Gates of Rome (The Emperor Series #1) / Conn Iquidden. Random House, 2009.  368pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   : If the Roman Empire had taken as long to rise and fall as this novel takes to discover a main character and a plot, most of the world would still be wearing togas today. The story, such as it is, revolves around two boys: Gaius, the broody son of a wealthy senator, and Marcus, a prostitute's mischievous child who is reared as Gaius's brother and trained with him in the arts of war. Before the two boys reach majority, they are thrust into adulthood by the untimely death of Gaius's father and take up residence in Rome with Gaius's uncle Marius, a powerful consul who is vying with Sulla for control of the Republic. When Marcus is 14, he joins the Fourth Macedonian Legion to earn his fortune; Gaius remains by his uncle's side. Iggulden lingers long over boyhood pranks, trying the reader's patience; the pace picks up only halfway through the novel. Frequent fight scenes, ranging from individual combat to full scale battles, liven the mix somewhat, but the cartoon-like ability of the characters to bounce back after a few stitches weakens the effect. Though Iggulden has a solid grounding in Roman military history, anachronisms in speech and attitude ("Cabera took him outside and gave him a hiding") roll underfoot and trip up authenticity. A major twist toward the end reveals the protagonists to be two of Roman history's best-known figures, but readers with some knowledge of the period will have guessed their identities already. This is ultimately little more than a protracted introduction to a bigger story, which Iggulden will surely go on to tell.  Source : Publishers Weekly.

Emperor : The Gods of War (Emperor Series #4) / Conn Iquidden.  Random House, 2009.  400pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : The year is 53 B.C. Fresh from victory in Gaul, Julius Caesar leads battle-hardened legions across the Rubicon river–threatening Rome herself. Even the master strategist Pompey is caught unprepared by the strike, and forced to abandon his city. The armies of Rome will face each other at last in civil war, led by the two greatest generals ever to walk the seven hills. Thus begins Conn Iggulden’s towering saga of Julius Caesar as he approaches his final destiny—a destiny that will be decided not by legions but by his friend Brutus and an Egyptian queen named Cleopatra, who will bear his only son....For Caesar, the campaign against Pompey will test his military genius and his appetite for glory to their limits, as the greatest fighting machine the world has ever seen divides against itself in a bloody conflict that will set brother against brother until victory or death. But for Caesar, another kingdom beckons—a world of ancient mysteries and languid sensuality, where a beautiful, bewitching woman waits to snare his heart.

Empire: The Novel of Imperial Rome  / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 2010.  608pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : Saylor, well known for his Roma Sub Rosa historical mysteries, switched gears for his bestselling Roma and now continues the history of ancient Rome from A.D. 14 to 141 with a hefty tome of the Pinarius family as its members serve a succession of Roman emperors as soothsayers, senators, and artisans, while trying not to get killed in the slew of conspiracies that marked the Roman political scene. The patriarch, Lucius Pinarius, grooms his son, also named Lucius, to be a member of an ancient priesthood of soothsayers who interpret natural phenomenon to divine the future. Young Lucius is particularly skillful, earning the emperor's praise and confidence. Succeeding generations of Pinariuses will enjoy the favor of Trajan and Hadrian, but will suffer from the cruelty of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, the depravity of Nero, and the murderous paranoia of Domitian. Saylor also vividly describes how the family survives the volcanic destruction of Pompeii, the burning of Rome, and the persecution of Jews and Christians. Though the ending is disappointingly abrupt, it does signal another volume to come in this grand series....Much of the basis of the story is historical thanks to the saved accounts of a Jew turned traitor to Masada's defenders: Flavius Josephus. Josephus as he is better known wrote a history book known as "The Jewish War" that the Roman Emperor Vespasian had commissioned. As the adage goes, "victors write the history books," and Vespasian commissioned Flavius to write a history book that extolled his accomplishments as Roman Emperor including the conquering of Masada. For the Romans, commissioning a person who had actually witnessed the history he was extolling was highly unusual. Most Roman history books were written by men who lived hundreds of years after the events being retold. "The Jewish Wars" tells the tale of the siege of Masada from the Romans vantage, but includes details that, to this day, have been useful to archeologists exploring Masadas ruins. Ernest Gann used "The Jewish Wars" in addition to other references to write his historical fiction novel of the siege of Masada.

Empress of the Seven Hills.  Kate Quinn.  New York : Berkley Books, 2012.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : Powerful, prosperous, and expanding ever farther into the untamed world, the Roman Empire has reached its zenith under the rule of the beloved Emperor Trajan. But neither Trajan nor his reign can last forever...Brash and headstrong, Vix is a celebrated ex-gladiator returned to Rome to make his fortune. The sinuous, elusive Sabina is a senator's daughter who craves adventure. Sometimes lovers, sometimes enemies, Vix and Sabina are united by their devotion to Trajan. But others are already maneuvering in the shadows. Trajan's ambitious Empress has her own plans for Sabina. And the aristocratic Hadrian-the Empress's ruthless protégé and Vix's mortal enemy-has ambitions he confesses to no one, ambitions rooted in a secret prophecy...When Trajan falls, the hardened soldier, the enigmatic empress, the adventurous girl, and the scheming politician will all be caught in a deadly whirlwind of desire and death that may seal their fates, and that of the entire Roman Empire...

Selected Titles : Rome, F-J

Fall of Rome: A Novel of a World Lost / Michael Curtis Ford.  St. Martin's Press, 2008.  368pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   Fans of The Sword of Attila will open this follow-up with happy anticipation. Since it begins with the unexpected death of the great Hun conqueror in A.D. 453, readers unfamiliar with the previous work will not suffer. In the chaos following Attila's death, Odoacer and Onulf, sons of a leading Hun general, flee after a greedy rival kills their father. They split up, with Odoacer traveling across Europe to Noricum, his dead mother's homeland. Although he arrives in rags, he soon learns he is the grandson of its king. A talented soldier, he reorganizes the army and wins a victory against marauding Huns, only to see a Roman invasion destroy his people six years later. He flees to Italy where he again rises to military prominence and reunites with Onulf, also serving in the Roman army. Encountering their father's murderer, now a leading figure in the crumbling empire, the brothers lead a revolt. History buffs will admire the author's research as he recounts the final bloody decades of the Roman Empire. Though Ford's heroes are more convincing on the battlefields than when negotiating the plot that leads from one clash to another, there's more than enough action to sate fans of the genre. Publishers Weekly.

The Far Arena / Richard Sapir.  New York : Seaview Books, 1978435pp.  Main Library  PS3569.A59 F3 1978 : : A story told from two perspectives - eye of God, and the main protagonist's own point of view - The Far Arena tells the story of a champion Roman Gladiator of the greatest "bread and blood" circus days who is exiled, frozen to death, then revived in modern times. Forget the science, although it reads well enough. Just suspend your disbelief, and read on, because this is culture shock on a grand scale. ...Eugenie tells his own story of his triumphs in becoming Rome's richest Gladiator, his fall from grace, his "death", and resurrection. The contempt he holds for modern man is palpable. Throughout the book we are forced to question our modern morals and ethics, our religions and beliefs.

The Fight for Rome : A Gladiators of the Empire Novel / by James Duffy.  Ithaca, N.Y. : McBooks Press ; Chicago : Distributed to the trade by Independent Publishers Group , 2007.  399pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Continuing the adventures of Quintus Honorius Romanus (a.k.a. Taurus)—legendary gladiator of ancient Rome—this second book in the series picks up in AD 68, when the emperor is dead, and the throne is up for grabs. Three contenders square off to take control of the government, and as civil unrest begins to build, Quintus and his friends, the beast hunter Lindani and the gladiatrix Amazonia, are forced to fight with the legionnaires of Rome in what will soon become bloody civil war. Meanwhile, in a remote corner of the empire, Quintus’ former slave, Lucius Calidius, plots another rise to power—and not even Quintus will stand in his way.

Fire in the East (Warrior of Rome Series #1) / Harry Sidebottom.  New York : Overlood Press, 2009, c2008. 433pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries   In this blood and guts tale of ancient warfare, Oxford lecturer Sidebottom introduces readers to Marcus Clodius Ballista, a third-century warrior who has risen through the ranks of the Roman army to achieve citizenship and the honorific of Dux Ripea. Charged by the emperors Valerian and Gallienus with the responsibility of defending the empire's eastern borders, Ballista says good-bye to his new wife and sets sail for the East. Once he arrives at the Syrian city of Arete on the banks of the Euphrates, Ballista organizes his legionaries to defend against the besieging Sassanid Persian army and hold out until reinforcements can arrive. In addition to having his hands full with the invading army, Ballista must also deal with traitors, saboteurs, assassins and patrician officers who resent obeying the orders of a low-born superior. How the brave and resourceful former barbarian defends himself from forces both within and without the city walls forms the spine of this action-packed and detail-rich narrative. Source : Publishers Weekly.

The First Man in Rome  (Master of Rome series, 1)  / Colleen McCullough.  New York : Morrow, 1990. 896pp.  Main Library  PR9619.3.M32 F57 1990 : Gaius Marius, an upstart New Man from the Italian provinces, and Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a patrician Roman brought up in the slums of the Subura, are both ambitious enough to want to become First Man in Rome, despite their social handicaps. The author deftly weaves politics, family rivalries, and battle scenes into a riveting story replete with fascinating details of everyday Roman life. The research is obviously painstaking; the author includes a large glossary of more than 100 pages as well as a pronunciation key for the Roman names.

The Forgotten Legion / Ben Kane. New York : St. Martin's Press, 2009. 525pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries   This may be the only historical novel in which a principal character is a proto-Etruscan nationalist. In this lively and often riveting first novel, Kane captures much of the chaos, brutality, and splendor of the late republic in the first century BCE, when Rome was ruled by the First Triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Marcus Licinius Crassus. Curiously, the four main characters are from the underside of society, and each has reason to despise the power of the emerging Roman superstate. Tarquinius labors on a latifundium and bemoans the loss of Etruscan greatness and subservience to Latin cultural and political domination. Brennus is a great gladiator whose family fell victim to imperial expansion. The twins, Romulus and Fabiola, suffer the degradation of slavery. Each of them is caught up in one of the seminal episodes of the century, as Crassus, seeking military glory, launched an expedition against Rome’s archenemy in the East, Parthia. Kane clearly knows the history of the period, and his story is rich in accurate historical detail. The characterizations are finely drawn and set against a dangerous, cruel, but often thrilling landscape. Booklist.

Fortress of Spears / Anthony Riches.  2011.  Empire series #3 : The battle for Hadrian's Wall has been won but the enemy is not destroyed. Calgus, the rebel war leader, has retreated deep into his people's northern territory. The new Roman leader makes an audacious plan to take the legions - and more important, the cavalry - north to their strongholds. Marcus Aquila, disguised as Centurion Corvus, is caught up in the campaign even though it will mean constant danger of being discovered by his family's enemies. His protectors, though, are powerful ...

Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome series #3) / Colleen McCullough.  New York : William Morrow, c1993. 878pp. Main Library  PR9619.3.M32 F67 1993 : In her third majestic tale of Rome (83-69 B.C.), McCullough spotlights three mighty beings and the frictive sparks from their occasional interactions: Sulla, Dictator of Rome, whose early career was chronicled in The First Man in Rome (1990) and The Grass Crown (1991); the military juggernaut Pompey; and the great Julius Caesar, "the greatest prime mover of them all.'" Again, McCullough brings order to the mighty tangle of battles and political strategies of ancient heavyweights--in the Forum Romanum or in the tents of war. Sulla, his early beauty gone, scabrous, toothless, and given to bouts with the wineskin, takes over Rome as Dictator, issues a blizzard of new laws returning rule to the patricians (landed aristocrats), and banishes all masks and effigies of his old partner and foe, the late Gaius Marius (The First Man in Rome). Sulla will tolerate the contributions of Pompey, who insists on being called "Magnus'' and has a child's temperament ("He could never be a danger to the Republic,'' says Caesar). Among those opposing Sulla is Young Marius (son of Gaius Marius), whose head will join others of Sulla's enemies on poles by the Senate. Working for "order and method,'' Sulla labors for Rome and thereby his "dignitas'' ("his personal impressiveness''--the only triumph over death). His job done, Sulla makes a shocking exit and has a last laugh. Meanwhile, Julius Caesar, finally relieved of a hated role as priest, embarks on a series of extraordinary military and diplomatic coups, but quietly, correct in hierarchical obligations, stunning in charm, intelligence and beauty--and patient. Like other authors of popular Roman historical fiction, McCullough must reconcile those civil, gossipy, sophisticated makers and doers with acts of bizarre cruelty (the Spartacus slave revolt featured over 6,000 crucifixions along a major highway). But the author's fidelity to sources, her witty glossary, and strong narration offer some firm ground and exciting speculation.

Give me back my legions! / Harry Turtledove. New York : St. Martin's Press, 2009. 310pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Alternate history icon Turtledove probes the intrigues and battles surrounding Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar's attempts to control uprisings in Germanic lands circa A.D. 9. Caesar appoints Publius Quinctilius Varus, formerly a successful governor of Syria, to become the new governor of Germany, and Varus sets off bolstered by three legions from the overextended Roman army. Sure that he is headed for further glory, Varus is unaware that crafty Prince Armenius, who serves in the Roman army but secretly seethes in indignation at Rome's plans to make Germany another conquered territory, is planning a massive revolt. Turtledove rotates through many points-of-view, from Caesar to slaves and soldiers, to give a panoramic look at the epic battle of Teutoburg Forest, laced with telling details of ancient military life and strategy and lightened with humorous interludes. The fantastic action scenes and taut narrative make this a fine addition to the ancient Roman battles canon.

Gladiator / Dewey Gram ; based on a screenplay by David Franzoni and John Logan and William Nicholson ; story by David Franzoni.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries   A retelling in print of the story developed into a major film featuring Russell Crowe.

The Gladiator/ Simon Scarrow.  2009 Available through ILL : While centurions Macro and Cato are returning to Rome from a harrowing campaign against the Parthians, their transport ship is almost capsized by a tidal wave. They barely make it to the port of Matala in Crete where they are stunned to find a devastated town. An earthquake has struck the island, destroying its cities and killing thousands. In the chaotic aftermath, large bands of the island's slaves begin to revolt and the local bandits, taking advantage of the slave rebellion, urge the Cretans to overthrow the Roman administration. When the local governor of the province hears that Macro and Cato have arrived on the island, he summons them at once. With many of the island's troops either killed or wounded during the earthquake, the governor calls on these experienced Roman officers for help. Can Macro and Cato move swiftly enough to counter the rebellion before it sweeps the Romans from the island?

A Gladiator Dies Only Once: The Further Investigations of Gordianus the Finder (Roma Sub Rosa Series #11) / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 2006. 288pp. Available through interlibrary loan : As in The House of the Vestals (1997), Saylor's previous collection featuring Gordianus the Finder, these nine carefully researched stories cover the early phase of the ancient Roman sleuth's career, affording fans the chance to witness the growth of some important personal and political relationships, including Gordianus's connection with the legendary orator Cicero. Though Saylor's novels in this acclaimed series allow him more scope to describe settings and develop his secret Roman history, he still manages, especially in the book's highlights, "The Cherries of Lucullus" and "The White Fawn," to suspend disbelief and make all his characters feel real. Some story mysteries prove to have a noncriminal resolution, but the twisty fair-play plotting that marks Saylor's best novels (Catilina's Riddle; A Murder on the Appian Way; etc.) is very much in evidence, especially in "Archimedes's Tomb" and "Death by Eros." A partial chronology and historical notes round out this excellent volume.

Gods and Legions: A Novel of the Roman Empire / Michael Curtis Ford.  St. Martin's Press, 2003.  464pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   This second historical novel by Ford (after The Ten Thousand) follows the rise of the Emperor Julian, the fourth-century Roman Caesar who has been vilified by Christian historians for his reintroduction of Hellenistic religions to Rome. The narrator is Julian's physician, Caesarius, ostensibly a loyal adviser but also a dogmatic Christian who wants to save Julian's soul and thinks very little of the man he serves. Battle scenes predominate in the early going, as Ford traces Julian's military campaigns in Gaul and documents his growing opposition to his uncle, Constantine the Great. The fast-paced narrative competently examines Julian's development as a soldier, inspired military commander and rhetorician. Ford clearly admires Julian's breadth of intellectual curiosity and his mission to restore diversity of religious practice and neo-Platonism. But Caesarius is so unrelentingly angry and humorless that his voice-over ends up stifling Julian as a character. An unreliable narrator threatened by the hero's greatness might have been a marvelous device, but in this case Caesarius's hostility is over the top, and his snide commentary gets too much airtime at the expense of Julian. Then, too, Julian's philosophical inner life and his genius for enlightened Hellenism has been dealt with at length in Gore Vidal's Julian (1962). In showing Julian from the distorted perspective of a treacherous enemy, Ford gambles, with mixed results. Publishers Weekly.

The Grass Crown (Master of Rome Series, 2) / Colleen McCullough.  New York : W. Morrow, c1991. 894pp.  PR9619.3.M32 G7 1991 : The First Man in Rome (1990) initiated the chronicle of the edgy partnership of new-man-in-Rome Gaius Marius and aristocrat Lucius Cornelius Sulla during the German wars. Here, the calamitous last hurrah of one and the violent pinnacle acts of the other twist through years of Italian wars, expeditions into Asia Minor, domestic trials and brief happinesses, terrible cruelties, and politics, always politics, in which sectors, families, and the famous fight for power--by diplomacy, manipulation, alliances, or the simple art of murder. By now (roughly 80's and 90's B.C.) Marius is in his 60s and escaping a "dull'' Rome to scout Asia Minor and sniff out the purposes of the barbarian king Mithridates of Pontus. The king will be faced down, and, some years later, Sulla, in a spectacular expedition over the Euphrates, will face him down again. Meanwhile, in the Senate there is a movement to enfranchise the sophisticated neighboring Italians, a movement snapped off by an assassination and a polarizing of ruling powers--and, inevitably, there's war. It is the overwhelming victory over one of the Italian tribes that brings Sulla his highest honor (the Grass Crown). Surely he is now equal to the great general Marius, now crippled by a stroke and attended by the boy Gaius Julius Caesar Junior, his wife's nephew. (Yep. The very same.) Marius intends to fulfill an old prophecy -- that he will be elected Consul for a seventh time. The inevitable conflict between Marius and Sulla explodes during an ongoing battle to dilute the power of the Senate elite. There will be a march on an unarmed Rome, screaming grabs for ascendance from an unhinged, dying Marius, and a raving Sulla, plus bloody deaths...and deaths...and deaths. Again, magnificent portraits of real beings. And, again, gamey politics, bright talk, great scenery, and gore. With glossary and maps.

Hadrian's Wall: A Novel / William Dietrich.  HarperTorch, 2005.  400pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries   : The limit of Roman imperial expansion in Britannia is marked by Hadrian's Wall, a fortification constructed in the second century A.D. to keep the northern barbarians from invading Rome's island province. Award-winning author Dietrich's fourth novel is an epic historical drama of warfare, treachery and political intrigue centered on Rome's most remote and desolate frontier outpost. In the fourth century A.D., the Celtic barbarians are restless, revolt is imminent and the hard-pressed Roman garrison on the frontier has a new cavalry commander. Brutally efficient veteran soldier Galba is replaced by scholarly aristocrat Marcus, whose appointment is the payoff of an arranged marriage to a senator's daughter. When Marcus's beautiful young wife, Valeria, arrives at the frontier, she becomes an unwitting pawn in the plots of Galba, Marcus and the Celtic chieftain, Arden Caratacus. Marcus seeks glory and a return to the comforts of Rome; Galba seeks power and revenge; and Caratacus seeks freedom from Roman oppression. All three men covet Valeria, but for very different reasons, eventually driving her to betray them all in a desperate effort to save them from war and disaster. Murder, betrayal, witchcraft and shifting loyalties add suspense and tension to this vivid tale. Dietrich's descriptions of Roman-style battle are bloody and graphic, with legionnaires wielding shield and sword against naked barbarians shrieking and swinging battleaxes. Dietrich is in top form with this rousing tale.  Publishers Weekly.

Hannibal / Ross Leckie.  Canongate, 2005.  256pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : "A battle is like lust. The frenzy passes. Consequence remains." So reflects the 65-year-old Hannibal as he recounts the trials of a battle commander's life in British writer's Leckie's first novel. Readers may already be somewhat acquainted with the warlord's record: how the Carthaginian was born and bred to become the leader of a great army, how he marched toward Rome in the company of thousands of mercenaries and elephants, crossing the Alps in a legendary winter of privation. Less familiar will be the portrait of Hannibal as a lover (of Similce, a Spanish woman whom he marries) or as an introspective man well-versed in the Greek philosophers. Published to fine reviews in England, Leckie's fictional memoir is written in a simple, visceral style that brings a raw immediacy to descriptions of ancient battle. The Oxford-trained author, who drew on many classical sources, is as authoritative about crucifixions and the torture of pregnant women as he is about the details of the great warrior's brilliant military strategies. Leckie seeks not to bury Hannibal in analysis but to portray him. He gives readers a taste of an outsized man whose obsession to conquer Rome made him as bloodthirsty as he was bold. This is a ripping good read whose lesson in ancient history is yet another reward.

The House of the Vestals : The Investigations of Gordianus the Finder (Roma Sub Rosa Series #6) / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 1997.  260pp.  Main Library PS3569.A96 H68 1997 : Nine stories featuring the ancient Roman sleuth Gordianus the Finder, set between the end of Sulla's dictatorship and the Spartacus slave revolt, detail the relationship between Gordianus and his adopted son....After five novels in the Roma Sub Rosa series, Saylor fills the time frame between the first two books-80 to 72 B.C.- with this first collection of short stories featuring series sleuth Gordianus the Finder. In the crowded streets of late-Republic Rome, the rich and the poor, the living and the dead occupy close quarters. In "The Lemures," a wealthy couple's home, previously owned by an executed political enemy, is haunted by the dead man's ghost. When the new owner dies unexpectedly, his widow is sure that the ghost will kill her next. Gordianus mines his knowledge of botany, history and human psyches to ferret out the solution. The nobleman Lucius Claudius, summoned into the house of dying young man to witness his signing of his will, days later sees the young man out walking. He asks the Finder to investigate and, as Gordianus follows the trial of deceit in "A Will Is a Way," the two men embark upon a lasting friendship. Gordianus adopts a young mute boy, Eco; and his sultry Egyptian servant, Bethesda, gradually evolves from slave to friend to lover, and finally, wife. Her Egyptian-Jewish origins permit the author to incorporate sections of biblical lore in his stories. Saylor's fluid prose and probing characterization work as effectively in the short story as they have in his admirable Gordianus novels.

I, Claudius; from the autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, born B.C. 10, murdered and deified A. D. 54 /  Robert Graves. New York, The Modern library [c1934]  427pp.  Main Library PR6013.R35 I12 1934a : Historical novel set in 1st-century-AD Rome by Robert Graves, published in 1934. The book is written as an autobiographical memoir by Roman emperor Claudius. Physically weak, afflicted with stammering, and inclined to drool, Claudius is an embarrassment to his family and is shunted to the background of imperial affairs. The benefits of his seeming ineffectuality are twofold: he becomes a scholar and historian, and he is spared the worst cruelties inflicted on the imperial family by its own members during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. Palace intrigues and murders surround him. Claudius' informal narration serves to emphasize the banality of the imperial family's endless greed and lust. The story concludes with Claudius ascending to the imperial throne.

Island of Ghosts / Gillian Bradshaw. Forge, 1998.  319pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries :    Making good use of the classic storytelling elements of fantasy and legend, Bradshaw creates a believable ancient world populated by compelling characters. Cultural diversity poses some serious operational challenges for the Roman Empire. Picts raid the northern borders while outlawed Druid sects (even as they feud among themselves) forge subversive alliances with the Picts and with the (also outlawed) Christians. Roman administrators have married into local families of questionable loyalty, and the occupying army itself consists of units drawn from some of the Empire's farthest reaches-and they don't get along with one another. Into this volatile situation, the Empire sends 8000 fierce and unpredictable barbarians. Proud and independent, these Sarmatian horse soldiers have pledged their service and loyalty to the Empire in a recent peace settlement, but they have no idea what it actually means to submit to Roman military discipline. It falls upon a prince named Ariantes to find a route through this treacherous political territory and bring his troops to safety in their new lives as Roman soldiers in a strange land. The tale of how noble and clever Ariantes becomes "Romanized" while remaining true to his Sarmatian values is fascinating while the background story of warfare, treachery, and romance in the brutal and distant lands should appeal to fans of swashbuckling adventure. In writing about Sarmatians, about whom little is known, the author has much latitude in creating fictional history while, as a classics scholar, she commands a richness of detail that brings the known facts vividly to life. 

The Judgment of Caesar : A Novel of Ancient Rome (Roma Sub Rosa Series #10)  / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2004.  290pp.  Main Library PS3569.A96 J83 2004 : It is 48 B.C. For years now, the rival Roman generals Caesar and Pompey have engaged in a contest for world domination. Both now turn to Egypt, where Pompey plans a last desperate stand on the banks of the Nile, while Caesar's legendary encounter with queen Cleopatra will spark a romance that reverberates down the centuries. But Egypt is a treacherous land, torn apart by the murderous rivalry between the goddess-queen and her brother King Ptolemy....Into this hot-house atmosphere of intrigue and deception comes Gordianus the Finder, innocently seeking a cure for his wife Bethesda in the sacred waters of the Nile. But when his plans go awry, he finds himself engaged in an even more desperate pursuit - to prove the innocence of the son he once disowned, who stands accused of murder....The judgment of Caesar will determine the fate of Gordianus's son; the choice Caesar makes between Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy will determine the future of Rome's empire. At the center of these two dilemmas, Gordianus becomes the unwitting fulcrum that will shift the balance of history. Witness to the death throes of the old world, he is to play a critical role in the birth of the world to come....Drawing scrupulously on historical sources, this is the most ambitious novel yet in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. Saylor presents a bold new vision of Caesar and paints a compelling and original portrait of Cleopatra, amid bloodshed, battles and storms, in a setting of Egyptian magic and mystery.

Julian : A Novel / Gore Vidal.  Boston : Little, Brown [1964]  503pp. Main Library PS3543.I26 J82 : The remarkable bestseller about the fourth-century Roman emperor who famously tried to halt the spread of Christianity, Julian is widely regarded as one of Gore Vidal’s finest historical novels. Julian the Apostate, nephew of Constantine the Great, was one of the brightest yet briefest lights in the history of the Roman Empire. A military genius on the level of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, a graceful and persuasive essayist, and a philosopher devoted to worshipping the gods of Hellenism, he became embroiled in a fierce intellectual war with Christianity that provoked his murder at the age of thirty-two, only four years into his brilliantly humane and compassionate reign. A marvelously imaginative and insightful novel of classical antiquity, Julian captures the religious and political ferment of a desperate age and restores with blazing wit and vigor the legacy of an impassioned ruler. 

Selected Titles : Rome, K-R

King of Kings / Harry Sidebottom (Warrior of Rome Series #2).  Available through MelCat from participating libraries AD256 - the spectre of treachery hangs ominously over the Roman Empire. The sparks of Christian fervour have spread through the empire like wildfire, and the imperium is alive with the machinations of dangerous and powerful men. All the while, Sassanid forces press forward relentlessly along the eastern frontier. The battle-bloodied general Ballista returns to the imperial court from the fallen city of Arete - only to find that there are those who would rather see him dead than alive. Ballista is soon caught in a sinister web of intrigue and religious fanaticism . . . his courage and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test in the service of Rome and the Emperor. The Warrior of Rome is back . . .

The Lantern Bearers / Rosemary Sutcliff.  [New York] : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. 281pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Instead of leaving with the last of the Roman legions, Aquila, a young officer, decides that his loyalties lie with Britain, and he eventually joins the forces of the Roman-British leader Ambrosius to fight against the Saxon hordes.

The Last King: Rome's Greatest Enemy / Michael Curtis Ford.  St. Martin's Press, 2005.  432pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : To the Romans, the greatest enemy the Republic ever faced was not the Goths or Huns, nor even Hannibal, but rather a ferocious and brilliant king on the distant Black Sea: Mithridates Eupator VI, the last king of Pontus, known to history as Mithridates the Great. At age eleven, he inherited a small mountain kingdom of wild tribesmen whom his wicked mother governed in his place. Sweeping to power at twenty-one-years-old, he proved to be a military genius and a man intent on ousting the Romans from the Black Sea coast territories. For over forty years, Rome sent its greatest generals to contain Mithridates, but time and again he embarrassed the Romans with devastating defeats. Each time Rome declared victory, Mithridates considered it merely a strategic retreat and soon came roaring back with a more powerful army than before. ... From the author of the acclaimed The Ten Thousand and Gods and Legions, comes a fascinating recreation of a wickedly cunning and ruthless king who would stop at nothing to protect his people-and who would go down in history as one of the greatest and most formidable warriors of the ancient world.

Last Seen in Massilia (Roma Sub Rosa Series #8)  / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2000.  277pp.  Main Library PS3569.A96 L37 2000  : In Saylor's latest and stellar historical (after Rubicon), the Roman world is still embroiled in civil war between rival generals Pompey and Julius Caesar. Caught in the morass of conflicting loyalties, Gordianus the Finder travels to the independent city-state of Massilia (present-day Marseilles) to investigate a rumor that his son, Meto, has been killed there. Gordianus finds Massilia under siege, but thanks to an odd stroke of luck that brings disaster to the besieging army, he's able to slip into the city. There he meets Hieronymus, whom the priests have selected as the scapegoat who will throw himself off the harbor's Sacrifice Rock to appease the gods and bring relief to the city. Gordianus later witnesses what looks like murder: a cloaked woman falls from Sacrifice Rock, perhaps assisted by a man dressed in the armor of a Massilian soldier. The leader of Massilia, Apollonides, promises to investigate, but when a Gaulish merchant named Arausio believes his daughter, Rindel, was the cloaked woman who fell, Gordianus begins his own queries. In the meantime, he continues to search for information about his missing son. Is Meto alive and playing some treacherous game on Caesar's behalf? Or did he die in an attempt to escape from Pompey's minions in Massilia? Saylor presents a vivid tableau of an ancient city under siege and an empire riven by internecine strife. Readers will impatiently long for the next book in what stands as one of today's finest historical mystery series. Publishers Weekly.

Lavinia / Ursula K. Le Guin.  Orlando : Harcourt, c2008.  279pp.  Browsing Collection (1 East) PS3562.E42 L38 2008 : In The Aeneid, Virgil's hero fights to claim the king's daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word in the poem. Now, Ursula K. LeGuin gives her a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.
Lavinia grows up knowing nothing but peace and freedom, until suitors come. Her mother demands that she marry handsome, ambitious Turnus. But omens and prophecies spoken by the sacred springs say she must marry a foreigner - that she will be the cause of a bitter war - and that her husband will not live long. When a fleet of Trojan ships sails up the Tiber, Lavinia decides to take her destiny into her own hands. And so she tells us what Virgil did not: the story of her life, and of the love of her life.

The Leapord Sword / Anthony Riches.  Empire Series 4.  Hodder & Stoughton,  May 9, 2012    352pp.  : Britannia has been subdued—and the murderous Roman agents who nearly captured Marcus Valerius Aquila, alias Corvus, have been defeated by his friends. But in order to protect those very friends from the wrath of the emperor, Marcus must leave the province which has been giving him shelter. He travels to the Tungrian auxiliary legion's headquarters in northern Gaul where a different kind of war and very different dangers await him.

The Legate's Daughter / Wallace Breem. May be requested through MelCat by participating libraries : With Augustus ailing and the succession in doubt, Rome is alive with rumor and conspiracy....Off the North African coast, a legate has been murdered and his daughter kidnapped. In the emperor's name, Marcus Agrippa organizes an expedition to recover the girl and reveal the intrigue. But he needs an unusual and expendable sort of man for this sensitive and cutthroat mission....Enter Curtius Rufus-disgraced centurion, relentless womanizer, cocksure gambler-a man who should live by his wits and sword but is more likely found sleeping off a hangover next to a pretty slave girl. Rufus wants nothing more than to continue his vagrant Roman life, but Agrippa will not allow him that seedy luxury....Threatened into accepting the mission, Rufus leads a contingent to the barbarian borders of the empire. There, using seduction, prowess, cunning, and the most invaluable bribe, Rufus tries to rescue the kidnapped girl and perhaps redeem his own life. But all too late, he realizes that the mission was betrayed early on, just another play in Rome's continuing power struggle. Surviving now only by his wits and his sword, Rufus conjures surprises of his own.

The Legion / Simon Scarrow.  2010.  : The bestselling author of The Centurion and The Gladiator returns with another action-packed Roman adventure.Trouble is brewing in Egypt. Rebel gladiator Ajax and his men have been posing as Roman soldiers and attacking naval bases, merchant vessels and villages. Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro have been charged with the task of tracking down the renegade warrior before the problem gets out of control. Joining forces with Legion III, they hope to destroy their enemy on the battlefield. But the cunning gladiator has other ideas...

Legionary / Gordon Doherty.  : The Roman Empire is crumbling, and a shadow looms in the east... 376 AD: the Eastern Roman Empire is alone against the tide of barbarians swelling on her borders. Emperor Valens juggles the paltry border defences to stave off invasion from the Goths north of the Danube. Meanwhile, in Constantinople, a pact between faith and politics spawns a lethal plot that will bring the dark and massive hordes from the east crashing down on these struggling borders. The fates conspire to see Numerius Vitellius Pavo, enslaved as a boy after the death of his legionary father, thrust into the limitanei, the border legions, just before they are sent to recapture the long-lost eastern Kingdom of Bosporus. He is cast into the jaws of this plot, so twisted that the survival of the entire Roman world hangs in the balance...

Legionary : Viper of the North / Gordon Doherty. : The Danubian frontier is weaker than ever, and a storm is gathering in the north . . . Deep winter, 376 AD: Emperor Valens has withdrawn the field armies from Moesia and Thracia to fight in the Persian War. The impoverished limitanei legions left behind to defend the banks of the River Danubius are now all that stand between the war-hungry Goths and heart of the Eastern Roman Empire. For Numerius Vitellius Pavo and the men of the XI Claudia, the brief from Emperor Valens is simple: to avoid war with the Goths at all costs while the Roman defences are so weak. But in the frozen lands north of the Danubius a dark legend, thought long dead, has risen again. The name is on the lips of every warrior in Gutthiuda; the one who will unite the tribes, the one whose armies will march upon the empire, the one who will bathe in Roman blood . . . The Viper!

The Light Bearer / Donna Gillespie. Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  Spanning the years between A.D. 52 - shortly before Nero's accession - and Nerva's accession in 96, the novel invokes tribal warfare, two tyrants, Domitian's terror, gladiatorial spectacles, blood vengeance, imperial intrigues and a mythic love. At the center is Auriane, the daughter of a Chattian chieftain fated to lead her tribe against Rome but also to disgrace it by murdering her father. On the other side of the Alps is Marcus Julianus, a philosophically disposed nobleman trying to salvage justice under the despotic Nero and Domitian. Marcus is haunted by his late father's vague records of a German warrior maid and the two finally meet when Auriane is captured in Domitian's Chattian campaign.

Lion of the Sun / Harry Sidebottom.  2010.  Warrior of Rome Series #3. Available through ILL Mesopotamia, AD 260 Betrayed by his most trusted adviser, the Roman Emperor Valerian has been captured by the Sassanid barbarians. The shame of the vanquished beats down mercilessly like the white sun, as the frail old emperor prostrates himself before Sharpur, King of Kings. Ballista looks on helplessly, but vows under his breath to avenge those who have brought the empire to the brink of destruction with their treachery. One day, maybe not soon, but one day, I will kill you . . . But first he must decide what price he will pay for his own freedom. Only the fearless and only those whom the gods will spare from hell can now save the empire from a catastrophic ending. Ballista, the Warrior of Rome, faces his greatest challenge yet.

The Living Wood : Saint Helena and the Emperor Constantine / Louis de Wohl. Ignatius Press, 2008.  370pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  The renowned novelist De Wohl, with his usual crisp language and descriptive narrative, as well as irony and humor, presents the colorful and tumultuous times of the early Christian era in this story of intrigue, romance and power politics revolving around Helena, the devoted and saintly mother of Constantine, the first Christian emperor. This historical novel tells the story of the quest for the True Cross through fifty years of the most exciting events in Roman and Christian history....The narrative begins when the Tribune Constantius, a Roman officer stationed in Britain, meets and wins Helena, only daughter of the mystical and oracular King Coel of Britain. Through the course of their early lives together, and during their ten-year separation when Constantius returns to Britian as a conquering Caesar and Helena has become a rejected wife, devoted mother, and militant Christian, there is a sure and convincing portrayal of character growth and personal conflict. Helena's fierce determination to raise Constantine as a warrior son and her gradual discovery and dramatic acceptance of Christianity prepare her for the final miracle of her life discovery of the True Cross, the Living Wood on Calvary....The Living Wood is a chapter from the turbulent half-forgotten pages of early Christian history and legend in which the religious conflicts and problems are handled with moving simplicity. It is also an action-packed novel of those times-with a lesson for us today-that captures with equal skill and tumult and the shouting of the battlefield and the devious plots and counter-plots of the court.

The Love-Artist / Jane Alison. New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001. 242pp.  Main Library PS3551.L366 L68 2001 : Why was Ovid, the most popular author of his day, banished to the edge of the Roman Empire? Why do only two lines survive of his play Medea, reputedly his most passionate work and perhaps his most accomplished? Between the known details of the poet's life and these enigmas, Jane Alison has interpolated a haunting drama of passion and psychological manipulation....On holiday by the Black Sea, on the fringes of the Empire, Ovid encounters an almost otherworldly woman who seems to embody the fictitious creations of his soon-to-be-published Metamorphoses. Part healer, part witch, Xenia seems myth come to life. Ovid is enchanted and obsessed - and, for the first time in a long while, flush with inspiration. Xenia will be the model for his masterpiece. But this time, his subject will be a dark one....When autumn comes, Ovid decides to take her back with him to Rome. Gradually, however, art becomes life, and the inexorable pull of ambition leads Ovid to make a Faustian bargain that will betray his newfound muse and catapult them both toward a reversal he never plotted. As the two of them become ensnared, the reader is drawn deep into an imaginatively enacted meditation on love, genius, and the quest for immortality.

The Mammoth Book of Roman Whodunnits : mystery and murder in Ancient Rome / edited by Mike Ashley ; introduction by Steven Saylor.  New York : Carroll & Graf, 2003.  526pp.  Main Library PS648.D4 M366 2003 : A host of totally new stories written by some of the most popular writers of historical mysteries brings to life the glorious and nefarious world that for nearly a thousand years—from the founding of the Republic in 510 B.C. to the deposing of the last emperor, Romulus, in 476 A.D.—was ancient Rome. Events from the turbulent reigns of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Caligula, and Nero provide the colorful background to tales ingeniously contrived by contributors like Paul Doherty, Gillian Bradshaw, and Richard Butler. While John Maddox Roberts offers a new SPQR story, Steven Saylor, Marilyn Todd, Rosemary Rowe, Darrell Schweitzer, and Michael Kurland challenge their sleuths Gordianus the Finder, Claudia, Libertus, Pliny the Younger, and Quintilian with baffling new cases. Mary Reed and Eric Mayer conjure new intrigue for John the Eunuch, and Peter Tremayne sends his Fidelma on the trail of a Roman legion lost in Ireland. In addition to the original stories specially commissioned for this volume, this book also includes such rare reprints as a Slave Detective story by Wallace Nichols and one of the earliest historical mysteries to be set in Rome, "De Crimine" by Miriam Allen de Ford. which features Cicero as the investigator.

Master of Rome / John Stack.  2011.  Masters of the Sea #3.  : A stirring adventure novel set amid the tumultuous clashes between the Roman and Carthaginian empires, battling for control of the Mediterranean, north Africa and Rome itself. Atticus, the young Greek captain, is now a commander of the growing Roman navy, blockading a port near Tunis, when the Roman legions suffer terrible defeat by the triumphant Carthaginian army, spearheaded by the elephant charges. He and his ships escape together with the main body of the Roman fleet out manoevred by the more skillful Carthaginians and then caught and almost completely annhilated by a terrible storm. Atticus and his crew are among the handful of survivors and being the messenger of this news to the Senta in Rome brings Atticus into political troubles, almost as stormy as the sea. He begins to feel not only that a greek will never be accepted by the Romans but also that the behaviour of many, noth politicians and soldiers, is such that he is not sure that he wants to be a Roman. Full of dramatic battles by land and sea, led by tremendous characters on both sides, MASTER OF ROME is a powerful novel, the third in this bestselling series by a born storyteller.

Master of Rome Series by Colleen McCullough.  (1) The First Man in Rome.  (2) The Grass Crown. (3) Fortune’s Favorites.  (4) Caesar’s Women. (5) Caesar: Let the Dice Fly. (6) The October Horse.

A Mist of Prophecies (Roma Sub Rosa Series #9) / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 2003.  304pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :   In Saylor's ninth outstanding Roman historical (after 2000's Last Seen in Massilia), it's 48 B.C. and the Empire is wracked by civil war and civic unrest. In Rome, the beautiful and enigmatic seeress, Cassandra, has everyone from Forum "chin-waggers" to high-society matrons entranced by her convulsionlike attacks of prophecy. Gordianus the Finder, more captivated than most, finds himself involved professionally and romantically with the seeming madwoman. Officially he's retired from his finding duties, but he resumes the hunt after Cassandra, just before dying in his arms in the market, whispers, "She's poisoned me!" Seven of Rome's most influential women including Caesar's wife, Calpurnia attend the seeress's humble funeral. All have something to do with Cassandra's fate, just as she, in secret ways, has something to do with the fate of Rome itself. The action picks up as Gordianus interviews these women and tries to sort out their connections to Cassandra. Conversations among Gordianus's chin-waggers also serve to clarify the situation. As usual, Saylor's research is impeccable, but the history never distracts from the very human drama. Especially touching is Gordianus's wife, Bethesda, whose "malady" is a source of concern and mystery to her errant husband. With this intelligent and compelling story, Saylor shows once again why fans of ancient historicals regard him as the leader of the field.

Mistress of Rome.  Kate Quinn.  New York : Berkley Books, 2010.  470pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :  Thea is a slave girl from Judaea, passionate, musical, and guarded. Purchased as a toy for the spiteful heiress Lepida Pollia, Thea will become her mistress's rival for the love of Arius the Barbarian, Rome's newest and most savage gladiator. His love brings Thea the first happiness of her life-that is quickly ended when a jealous Lepida tears them apart....As Lepida goes on to wreak havoc in the life of a new husband and his family, Thea remakes herself as a polished singer for Rome's aristocrats. Unwittingly, she attracts another admirer in the charismatic Emperor of Rome. But Domitian's games have a darker side, and Thea finds herself fighting for both soul and sanity. Many have tried to destroy the Emperor: a vengeful gladiator, an upright senator, a tormented soldier, a Vestal Virgin. But in the end, the life of the brilliant and paranoid Domitian lies in the hands of one woman: the Emperor's mistress.

A Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa Series #5) / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 1997.  432pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :   In 52 A.D., after the popular politician Publius Clodius is killed on a public road, patrician Titus Milo is charged with his murder and Cicero brings in Gordianus the Finder to learn the truth about a murder that has thrown Rome into turmoil.

Nox Dormienda: A Long Night for Sleeping (Roman Noir #1) Kelli Stanley.  Waterville, Me. : Five Star, 2008.   323pp.   Available through interlibrary loan  :   Arcturus the half-Roman doctor and occasional problem-solver -- has seen much in his thirty-three years. He is Agricola's doctor and friend. And Agricola is the governor of Britannia. On a frozen December afternoon, he learns the governor is in trouble. The Emperor Domitian has sent a spy to Britannia -- a spy carrying papers demanding Agricola's resignation. It doesn't make Arcturus any warmer to know that the spy, Vibius Maecenas, is betrothed to the woman who brings him the story. The woman -- Gwyna -- is as unforgettable as her information. When Arcturus sends his freedman Bilicho to follow her, he finds himself, hours later, in an underground temple, staring at a shapeless hulk on top of the altar. It's the trussed body of Maecenas, with a gaping hole in place of a throat. If Arcturus doesn't find out who murdered him and why, Domitian might think the governor is responsible. The dead Maecenas will ignite a civil war, one hot enough to thaw the ice in frozen Britannia.

The October Horse: A Novel of Caesar and Cleopatra  (Master of Rome series, #6)   Colleen McCullough.  Simon & Schuster , 2007.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :   Caesar may be the nominal protagonist of this last novel in a series of six chronicling the demise of the Roman Republic, but the presiding spirit is that of Octavian (later Augustus), Caesar's successor and Rome's first emperor. McCullough's Octavian is as complex and gifted as her Caesar, but far less moral, just or merciful-a fitting ruler for a Rome grown too unwieldy for republican government. Blessed with the same immediacy and breezy style that made the tumultuous first century B.C. come alive in previous volumes, McCullough's heady novel begins with Caesar as dictator of Rome. Brilliant, ruthless, ascetic in his habits and devoted to the welfare of Rome, he enacts a series of reforms while consolidating his power and fathering a son with Cleopatra. The Egyptian, here portrayed as spoiled and shortsighted but passionately in love with Caesar, is just one in a panoply of richly imagined characters: Cato, obdurate republican and traditionalist; Mark Antony, a crass brute with a streak of animal cunning; decent Brutus, batted between his mother, the poisonous Servilia, and Porcia, his vengeful wife. Caesar is a bit too perfect in McCullough's telling, and Antony too monstrous; the novel also suffers from a sameness of voice throughout. But the skillfulness of McCullough's portrait of Octavian will make readers wish more novels were in the offing. Introduced as a guarded, talented youth, he is transformed by Caesar's assassination into a merciless, retributive man-or perhaps he simply shows his true colors. The book ends in a dark blaze of vengeance with his pursuit and destruction of Caesar's assassins.

A Pillar of Iron: A Novel of Ancient Rome. Taylor Caldwell.  Greenwich, Conn. : Fawcett, [1969,©1965]   768pp.  Main Library  PS3505.A364 P5 1969    In this riveting tale, the Roman Empire in its final glory is seen through the eyes of philosopher, orator, and political theorist Marcus Tullius Cicero.... From his birth in 106 BC in the hill town of Arpinum, Cicero, the educated son of a wealthy member of the equestrian order, is destined for greatness. At a young age, he discovers the legend of the Unknown God, the coming Messiah, and it propels him on a journey of spiritual conflict and self-discovery that takes the rising young lawyer from his tumultuous family life to his tenuous alliance with Julius Caesar to a fateful love affair with the Roman empress Livia and, finally, to the political role that will make him a target of powerful enemies—and secure his legacy as one the greatest influences on Western civilization.... Based on hundreds of speeches, voluminous private correspondence, and ancient texts and manuscripts, this bestselling epic brings into focus Cicero’s complicated relationships with his contemporaries, including Caesar, Mark Antony, and Crassus, and brilliantly captures the pageantry, turmoil, and intrigue of life in ancient Rome. According to legendary editor Maxwell Perkins, author “Taylor Caldwell is a storyteller first, last and foremost, and once you begin reading one of her books, you can’t help finishing it.”

Pompeii : a novel / Robert Harris.  New York : Random House, c2003.  278pp.  Available via ILL or MelCat : All along the Mediterranean coast, the Roman empire’s richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas, enjoying the last days of summer. The world’s largest navy lies peacefully at anchor in Misenum. The tourists are spending their money in the seaside resorts of Baiae, Herculaneum, and Pompeii....But the carefree lifestyle and gorgeous weather belie an impending cataclysm, and only one man is worried. The young engineer Marcus Attilius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay of Naples. His predecessor has disappeared. Springs are failing for the first time in generations. And now there is a crisis on the Augusta’s sixty-mile main line—somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius....Attilius—decent, practical, and incorruptible—promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. His plan is to travel to Pompeii and put together an expedition, then head out to the place where he believes the fault lies. But Pompeii proves to be a corrupt and violent town, and Attilius soon discovers that there are powerful forces at work—both natural and man-made—threatening to destroy him....With his trademark elegance and intelligence, Robert Harris, bestselling author of Archangel and Fatherland, re-creates a world on the brink of disaster.

The Praetorian Guard / Simon Scarrow.  2011. Available via ILL or MelCat : Emperor Claudius is in danger. His personal guard, the Praetorian Guard, has been infiltrated by traitors. Summoned to Rome by Narcissus, Macro and Cato are furnished with new identities and placed, undercover, in the Guard. With each test of their loyalty they are given greater access to the conspirators' plot but are faced with the danger of detection and a race against time to save the Emperor. As they move ever closer to the mastermind, they realise that all is not as it seems...

Pride of Carthage : a novel of Hannibal / David Anthony Durham. New York : Doubleday, 2005.  568pp.  Main Library PS3554.U677 P75 2005 : With a vast cast of characters and nationalities, twists of fate, and tales of inspired leadership, David Anthony Durham perfectly captures the legendary Hannibal's world in Pride of Carthage. Beginning in ancient Spain, where Hannibal's father had carved out a Carthaginian empire, the novel traces the origins of the war, the opening moves, and Hannibal's inspired choice to attack Rome via a land route most believed impossible. In graphic, panoramic prose, Durham describes the battles, including the icy slaughter of the Trebia; the mist-shrouded battle along Lake Trasimene; the battle of Cannae, in which Hannibal's outnumbered force surrounded and decimated seventy thousand Romans in a single afternoon; and Zama, the hard slog that proved to be the decisive contest....Along the way we meet a variety of major historical figures on both sides of the conflict, as well as characters representing the vast array of other ethnicities who played a part in the war: Iberians and Gauls, Numidians and Libyans, Macedonians and Moors. Hannibal's family is brought to life: his wife, mother, sisters, and young son, as is Publius Scipio, the young Roman who was the only match for Hannibal's genius on the field of battle — and who eventually defeated him. ...Pride of Carthage is a stunning achievement in historical fiction, one that will transport readers to a world of mesmerizing authenticity of character, event, and detail.

Render Unto Caesar / Gillian Bradshaw.  New York : Forge, 2003. 461pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Hermogenes, although descended from a race of heroes, is content to run his business and leave valor to the legends. But when his father is killed, the young Greek is stirred to seek retribution. In Rome, corruption and prejudice are far easier found than justice. Hermogenes may be a citizen in name, but he is branded a barbarian by those who are Roman by birth-and the man who owes him money is a respected member of the city's government. As Hermogenes is drawn deeper into a maelstrom of political intrigue, he gains a formidable gladiator as his ally, a woman with scars on her heart as well as her body. Together they plot to defeat the consul at his own game. But how far is Hermogenes willing to go to satisfy his own honor?

The Road to Rome / Ben Kane.   St. Martins Press, 2012.  512pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :   In 48 B.C., having survived a disastrous campaign in Pythia as part of the Forgotten Legion and spent years fighting their way back to Rome, Romulus and Tarquinius have finally made it as far as Alexandria. On arrival, though, they find themselves in the midst of the Roman Civil War, are press-ganged into Caesar?s thinning legions and greatly outnumbered and fighting for their lives against the Egyptian army. Meanwhile in Rome, Romulus? twin sister Fabiola, having caught only a glimpse of her long-missing twin before being forced to flee Egypt for Rome, lives in fear for her life, loved by Brutus, but wooed by Marcus Antonius, his deadly enemy....  From the battlefields of Asia Minor and North Africa, to the lawless streets of Rome and the gladiator arena, they all face death and danger daily, until 44 B.C. when their individual roads all lead them to Rome where the future of the republic lies unexpectedly in their hands.

The Robe / Lloyd C. Davis.  Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942. 695pp. Main Library   PS3507.O7573 R6 : Lloyd C. Douglas began his literary career after leaving the ministry at the age of 52. All of his novels, essays, and short stories relied on his spiritual background for thematic and creative inspiration. At the height of his popularity, Douglas was receiving on average 100 letters a week from fans. One of these letters provided the inspiration for The Robe. Hazel McCann, a department store clerk from Ohio, wrote to Douglas asking what he thought had happened to Christ's garments after the crucifixion. Douglas immediately began working on a novel based on this concept, sending each chapter to McCann as he finished it. Douglas and McCann finally met in 1941, and it is to her that Douglas has dedicated the book.

Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 2008.  592pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Author of the critically acclaimed Roma Sub Rosa series of historical mysteries, Saylor (The Judgment of Caesar) breaks out on an epic scale in this sprawling novel tracing Rome's extraordinary development over five centuries, as seen through the eyes of succeeding generations of one of its founding families. Skipping over several generations at a time, Saylor puts the Potitii family descendants at the side of Romulus and Remus at the official founding of the city; of Scipio Africanus during the Punic Wars; of the legendary reformers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus during the turbulent second-century B.C.; and of Julius and Augustus Caesar as the Republic ebbs into Empire. Solidly anchored in fact and vividly imagined, this long book moves at a sprightly clip and features some vibrant personages. One of the most memorable is Pinaria, a Vestal Virgin who loses her innocence to a enigmatic slave, and secondaries such as the deformed giant Cacus who terrorizes the early Roman settlement. Linked by blood and by a gold amulet (in the shape of a winged phallus) that is passed from generation to generation, the Potitii family gets to see some fascinating things.  Publishers Weekly.

The Roman: The Memoirs of Minutus Launsus Manilianus, Who Has Won the Insignia of a Triumph, Who Has the Rank of Consul, Who Is Chairman of the Priests' Collegium of the God Vespasian and a member of the Roman Senate / Mika Waltari. English version by Joan Tate.  New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons [1966]  637pp. Main Library PH355.W3 I3413 : The Roman is a superb reconstruction of a time long ago, the Roman world in the time of the Emperors Claudius and Nero. It is the story of Minutus, of noble birth, he serves the government and travels widely through the Empire, from his home in Antioch to the seat of world power, Rome.

Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa Series #1) / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 2001. 357pp. Main Library  PS3569.A96 R6 1991 : First in a unique and acclaimed mystery series set in ancient Rome. Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, the young advocate who is defending a man accused of patricide. In a society where neither slave nor citizen is free to speak without reprisal, Gordianus is hired to learn the truth.

Rubicon (Roma Sub Rosa Series #7) / Steven Saylor.  New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.  276pp.  Main Library PS3569.A96 R8 1999 : As Caesar marches on Rome and panic erupts in the city, Gordianus the Finder discovers—in his own home—the body of Pompey's favorite cousin. Before fleeing Rome, Pompey exacts a terrible bargain from our hero, the Finder himself: Gordianus must locate the killer, or sacrifice his own son-in-law to service in Pompey's legions—and certain death. Amid the city's sordid underbelly, Gordianus learns that the murdered man was a dangerous spy. Now, as he follows a trail of intrigue, betrayal, and ferocious battles on land and sea, the Finder is caught between the chaos of war and the terrible truth he must finally reveal.

Selected Titles : Rome, S-Z

Sand of the Arena: A Gladiators of the Empire Novel / William Duffy.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : For this first entry in a new series, debut novelist Duffy recreates in gory detail the world of Roman gladiators, complete with larger-than-life characters and plenty of fast-paced, sanguinary action. When the hero, Quintus Honorius Romanus, loses his parents and is injured during a storm at sea, a resentful and resourceful slave, Lucius, steals his identity. The real Quintus-renamed Taurus-works to rebuild his life as a gladiator, with the help of new friends Lindani, an African hunter, and Amazonia, a rare female gladiator who seems lifted straight from the overheated world of professional wrestling. Meanwhile, Lucius-masquerading as the patrician Quintus-rises to a position of power in Rome. Beginning in Britannia on the frontier of the Empire, Taurus fights his way to notoriety, a match in Rome and the inevitable showdown with his nemesis. From training regimen to weapons and fighting tactics, Duffy renders the technical elements of the "sport" in layman's terms. He also corrects some common misconceptions about gladiatorial combat-e.g., the losing fighter was more likely to be spared than killed.

Scipio : A Novel / Ross Leckie.  Canongate, 2008.  392pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  In the name of Rome, Scipio Africanus systematically destroyed the hard-won empires of Hannibal and Alexander the Great. With breathtaking battle scenes and a tale of violent passions, Scipio is a stunning sequel to Hannibal. This inspired narrative reveals the aristocrat, general, politician, and aesthete behind the Roman triumph to bring us a novel of love and betrayal, about a genius who discovers he is only a man.

The Scourge of God / William Dietrich.  New York, NY : HarperCollinsPublishers, c2005.  334pp.  Main Library PS3554.I367 S35 2005 : Life was not secure for citizens of the Roman Empire in the mid-fifth century, who had reason to fear the "scourge of God," as Attila the Hun was called. A canny leader and warrior, Attila had his forces destroy everything in his path as he set out to conquer both eastern and western Roman empires. Dietrich (Hadrian's Wall, 2004) hews strongly to historical fact, providing a cast of characters and map of the period, adding just three fictitious characters to his primary cast: Jonas Alabanda, a Roman historian and diplomat from Constantinople; Ilana, a Roman who loses father, home in Axiopolis, and fiance to the Huns, who take her hostage; and Skilla, a Hun soldier and nephew of warlord Edeco. Their personal relationships help connect the actual events of the time and add humanity to them. Dietrich vividly describes treachery, betrayals, assassination attempts, executions, and battles, culminating in the almost incomprehensibly massive and bloody Battle of Chalons, in 451 A.D.  Booklist. 

Ship of Rome / John Stack.  2009.  Master of the Seas #1.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  Against a backdrop of the clash of the Roman and Carthaginian empires, the battle for sovereignty takes place on the high seas Atticus, captain of one of the ships of Rome's small, coastal fleet, is from a Greek fishing family. Septimus, legionary commander, reluctantly ordered aboard ship, is from Rome, born into a traditionally army family. It could never be an easy alliance. But the arrival of a hostile fleet, larger, far more skilful and more powerful than any Atticus has encountered before, forces them to act together. So Atticus, one of Rome's few experienced sailors, finds himself propelled into the middle of a political struggle that is completely foreign to him. Rome need to build a navy fast but the obstacles are many; political animosities, legions adamant that they will only use their traditional methods; Roman prejudice even from friends, that all those not born in Rome are inferior citizens. The enemy are first class, experienced and determined to control the seas. Can Atticus, and the fledgling Roman navy, staffed with inexperienced sailors and unwilling legionaries, out-wit and out-fight his opponents.

The Siege (Agent of Rome #1).  Nick Brown   Hodder & Stoughton, 2011. 390pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : 270 AD. Rome has ruled Syria for more than three centuries but now the weakened empire faces a desperate threat. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra has turned her Roman-trained army against her former masters and the once invincible legions have been crushed. Arabia, Palestine, and Egypt have fallen and now Antioch, Syria's capital, stands exposed. A young intelligence agent fresh from officer training, Cassius Corbulo is the only ranking Roman officer left in the line of the Palmyran advance. He must take command of the fort of Alauran, the last stronghold still in Roman hands, and hold it until reinforcements arrive. What Cassius finds at Alauran would daunt the most seasoned veteran, let alone a 19 year-old with no experience of war. A mere scattering of divided and demoralized legionaries remain, backed up by some fractious Syrian auxiliaries and a drunken Praetorian Guardsman. With the Palmyrans just days away, Cassius must somehow find the discipline, resourcefulness and courage to organize the garrison, save Alauran and secure Rome's eastern frontier.

The Silver Branch / Rosemary Sutcliff.  1993.  228pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : A sequel to the novel, The Eagle of the Ninth, also by Rosemary Sutcliff. May be requested through MelCat by participating libraries : Takes place in Britain approximately one hundred years before Rome's decline. Justin, a young surgeon, is posted at Rutupiae where he incidentally meets a distant relative, also posted at Rutupiae, named Flavius. The youthful surgeon and eager new soldier quickly become close friends and they jointly discover a traitor inside the camp. When they tell Britain's Emperor, Carausius, of the betrayer, he doesn't seem to believe them, and they are sent from Rutupiae to Magnis on the Wall where they are stationed together as Surgeon and Cohort Commander to the Eighth Cohort. But when Carausius is overthrown by the cruel rebel from Rutupiae, Justin and Flavius abandon their positions at Magnis on the Wall and join a man named Paulinus to try and save Britain from its new emperor who seems destined to destroy it.

The Silver Chalice : A Novel / Thomas B Costain.  Garden City, N.Y. :  Doubleday, 1952. 533pp.  Main Library PS3505.O818 S5 : The Silver Chalice recounts the story of Basil, a young silversmith, who is commissioned by the apostle Luke to fashion a holder for the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. The Silver Chalice was the best-selling fiction title of 1953 in the United States and was made into a film starring Paul Newman.

The Silver Eagle / Ben Kane. St. Martin's Press, 2010. 480pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Trapped in Parthia by Crassus’s failed invasion, ten thousand legionaries are captured and marched to the edge of the known world—these men are the Forgotten Legion. Among them are Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinius, all men with troubled pasts and good reason to hate Rome. Together the trio must face the savage tribes that surround them as well as the more treacherous enemies within the ranks of the legion itself. The three friends’ character will be tested to the utter limit as they struggle to find a way back to Rome. Meanwhile, Fabiola, Romulus’ twin sister, fights to survive and maintain hope in her brother’s survival. Freed by her powerful lover but beset by enemies on all sides, she must travel to Gaul to find her lover, Caesar’s right-hand man, where Vercingetorix threatens the life and the lives of all who rally around Caesar.

Soldier of Rome : Heir to Rebellion : Book Three of The Artorian Chronicles / James Mace. iUniverse, Inc., 2009.  256pp.  Available through interlibrary loan A year has passed since the end of the Gallic rebellion of Sacrovir and Florus. Retribution has been exacted and the province is at peace once more. And yet there are some who escaped Rome's justice. They are led by a man whose heart burns with hate; an heir to rebellion. Knowing that there can be no victory against the legions; his vengeance can only be wrought through terror and murder. The Gallic city of Lugdunum will be the first to taste his wrath.The city of Lugdunum flourishes; the Twentieth Legion's Third Cohort having been stationed within the city since the end of the Sacrovir Revolt. For Centurion Proculus and his legionaries their comfortable assignment will soon come unraveled as a series of grisly murders looks to upset the order of the city. Sergeant Artorius inadvertently finds himself at the center of the search to find these mysterious killers before they undermine the city's faith in the protection of the legions; a search that will lead him on a journey into the darkest corners of what lurks in a broken man's wicked soul.

Soldier of Rome : The Legionary : A Novel of the Twentieth Legion during the campaigns of Germanicus Caesar / James Mace.  Lincoln, NE : iUniverse, c2006. 297pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : In the year A.D. 9, three Roman Legions under Quintilius Varus were betrayed by the Germanic war chief, Arminius, and destroyed in the forest known as Teutoburger Wald. Six years later Rome is finally ready to unleash Her vengeance on the barbarians. The Emperor Tiberius has sent his adopted son, Germanicus Caesar, into Germania with an army of forty-thousand legionaries. The come not on a mission of conquest, but one of annihilation. With them is a young legionary named Artorius. For him the war is a personal vendetta; a chance to avenge his brother, who was killed in Teutoburger Wald. In Germania Arminius knows the Romans are coming. He realizes that the only way to fight the legions is through deceit, cunning, and plenty of well-placed brute force. In truth he is leery of Germanicus, knowing that he was trained to be a master of war by the Emperor himself. The entire Roman Empire held its collective breath as Germanicus and Arminius faced each other in what would become the most brutal and savage campaign the world had seen in a generation; a campaign that could only end in a holocaust of fire and blood.

Soldier of Rome : The Sacrovir Revolt : A Novel of the Twentieth Legion During the Rebellion of Sacrovir and Florus / James Mace. iUniverse, Inc, 2008.  266pp.  Available through interlibrary loan : It has been three years since the wars against Arminius and the Cherusci. Gaius Silius, Legate of the Twentieth Legion, is concerned that the barbarians-though shattered by the war-may be stirring once again. He also seeks to confirm the rumors regarding Arminius' death. What Silius does not realize is that there is a new threat to the Empire, but it does not come from beyond the frontier; it is coming from within, where a disenchanted nobleman looks to sow the seeds of rebellion in Gaul....Legionary Artorius has greatly matured during his five years in the legions. He has become stronger in mind; his body growing even more powerful. Like the rest of the Legion, he is unaware of the shadow growing well within the Empire's borders, where a disaffected nobleman seeks to betray the Emperor Tiberius. A shadow looms; one that looks to envelope the province of Gaul as well as the Rhine legions. The year is A.D. 20.

Spartacus / Howard Fast.  Originally published in 1951.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Spartacus, born and raised a slave, is sold to Gladiator trainer Batiatus. After weeks of being trained to kill for the arena, Spartacus turns on his owners and leads the other slaves in rebellion.

The Spear / Louis de Wohl.  Ignatius Press, 1988.  380pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  This panoramic novel of the last days of Christ ranges from the palaces of imperial Rome to the strife-torn hills of Judea-where the conflict of love and betrayal, revenge and redemption, reaches a mighty climax in the drama of the Crucifixion. For this is the full story of the world's most dramatic execution, as it affected one of its least-known participants-the man who hurled his spear into Christ on the Cross.

The Sword of Attila: A Novel of the Last Years of Rome / Michael Curtis Ford.  St. Martin's Press, 2006.  432pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Roman general and Asiatic warlord trade places in childhood and find comradeship - before the tides of history sweep them into bloody conflict. Ford writes manly historicals, the kind that, being set so far in a safely distant past, allow his readers the vicarious thrills of taking part in gargantuan military campaigns and being present at momentous events without having to be entangled in all those modern political complications. And there's nothing wrong with that. This time out, Ford continues to mine the rich vein of antiquity and here, in the fifth century A.D., comes up with Attila, a smart sort of Hun who gets sent as a hostage (to enforce the keeping of a treaty) to the Roman court in Ravenna, where he meets Flavius Aetius, who, in turn, is soon hostaged to the rough wooden dwellings of the Huns. Raised in their respectively alien environments, the two men respond in markedly different styles. Ford delves deeply into Hunnish ways, providing extensive detail about how this fierce, nomadic Central European people lived-though he admits in a postscript that, given the dearth of almost any decent research on the Huns, much of this had to be made up-while practically ignoring Attila's young adulthood among the decadent Romans. After being returned to their native environments, these two natural leaders react somewhat differently, with Attila immediately returning to his Hunnish roots and Aetius keeping a hard-bitten Hun's perspective about him as he ascends to the rank of Roman general. Initially, it seems these two men will be able to forge some sort of lasting peace between their feuding empires, but outside pressures and the arrogance of power conspire against such a friendly resolution. Thus, the stage is set for the apocalyptic Battle of Chalons, in Gaul, where over a million men battle to determine who will rule Europe. It's a massively long, brutal spectacle, supremely well-executed by Ford. Well-rounded it's not, but, again, Ford offers solidly researched and lustily violent military historical fiction. Kirkus Reviews.

The Triumph : A Novel / Ernest K. Gann. New York : Simon and Schuster, c1986. 382pp.  Main Library PS3513.A56 T6 1986 : In this sequel to The Antagonists (1970), Readers of The Antagonists, Gann's version of the siege of Masada on which the TV miniseries was based, may be less than enthralled by this desultory sequel. Unlike the earlier book, there is no great central conflict here. Picking up from Flavius Silva's discovery of the mass suicide of the Jews of Masada, the novel moves tediously towards a struggle over the Roman throne, with Flavius a key player in the intrigue. With Emperior Vespasian dying, the stage is set for a contest between his two sons, Titus and Domitian. Allied with Titus is Domitillia, his sister, who becomes Silva's lover, thrusting the battle-weary general into the center of the struggle. Gann fails to pump much drama into this history; those interested in Roman intrigues would do best to turn back to I, Claudius.

The Triumph of Caesar : A Novel of Ancient Rome (Roma Sub Rosa Series #12) / Steven Saylor. New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2008. 311pp.  Browsing Collection (1 East) PS3569.A96 T75 2008 : At the start of bestseller Saylor's stellar 10th novel in his Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, Gordianus is at first reluctant to accept a commission from Julius Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, to discover which of the general's many enemies may be plotting her husband's assassination soon after his victory in the Roman civil war. When Calpurnia reveals that the first man she'd hired for the job, Hieronymous, was murdered, the sleuth agrees to help because Hieronymous was an old friend of his. The suspects in Hieronymous's death, who include such prominent figures of the period as Cleopatra and Marc Antony, may well be the ones seeking to kill Caesar. Since the action takes place two years before Caesar's actual death in 44 B.C., there's little suspense about the outcome, but Saylor ably rises to the challenge. The convincing backdrop of daily life in ancient Rome helps make this compelling whodunit a triumph. Publishers Weekly.

Under the Eagle : A Tale of Military Adventure and Reckless Heroism with the Roman Legions / Simon Scarrow.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : It is the year 42 AD, and Centurion Macro, battle-scarred and fearless, is in the heart of Germany with the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman army. Cato, a new recruit and the newly appointed second-in-command to Macro, will have more to prove than most. In a bloody skirmish with local tribes, Cato gets his first chance to prove that he's more than a callow, privileged youth. As their next campaign takes them to a land of unparalleled barbarity - Britain - a special mission unfolds, thrusting Cato and Macro headlong into a conspiracy that threatens to topple the Emperor himself. 1st installment of series.

Venus Throw (Roma Sub Rosa Series #4) / Steven Saylor. New York : St. Martin's Press, 2008, 368pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : On a chill January evening in 56 B.C., two strange visitors to Rome--an Egyptian ambassador and a eunuch priest--seek out Gordianus the Finder whose specialty is solving murders. But the ambassador, a philosopher named Dio, has come to ask for something Gordianus cannot give--help in staying alive. Before the night is out, he is murdered.

When the Eagle Hunts / Simon Scarrow. New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2004.  274pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : In the bitter winter of a.d. 44, the Roman troops in Britain are impatiently awaiting the arrival of spring so that the campaign to conquer the island can be renewed. But the native Britons are growing more cunning in their resistance, constantly snapping at the heels of the mighty Roman forces....When the most brutal of the native tribesmen, the Druids of the Dark Moon, capture the shipwrecked wife and children of General Plautius, quick action is called for. Two volunteers from the crack Second Legion must venture deep into hostile territory in a desperate attempt to rescue the prisoners....Centurion Macro and his optio, Cato, find themselves slipping out of camp in the dead of night to reach the General’s family before they are sacrificed to the Druids’ dark gods. They know they are heading towards an almost certain death, and their only hope is that, with sheer courage and ingenuity, they can outwit the most ruthless foes they’ve ever faced.  3rd installment of series.

The Wolf's Gold / Anthony Riches.  (Empire series; 5)   Hodder & Stoughton, 2012.  Wolf's Gold is the fifth book in Anthony Riches's action packed Empire series. In his latest book, Riches takes our hero Centurion Marcus Corvus and his Tungrians away from their recent victory in Germania to the far reaches of the Empire. Their destination is Dacia on the north-eastern edge of the Empire, and their job is to protect an important gold mine that supplies the Imperial Treasury with tonnes of gold every day! The mine has come under threat from the Sarmatians, a rebellious tribe that lives in the area. The Sarmatians are a war-like people who are feared for their skills in archery and for the poisoned arrows they use against their enemies....However, as Marcus and his fellow officers find out, the rebellion is not as straightforward as it seems, as the King of the Sarmatian horde, Asander is not as hostile to Rome as is first thought. However, he is a puppet for his hot headed brother-in-law Inarmaz, who is violently opposed to Roman rule in Dacia. Marcus and his Tribune, Scaurus work hard to have Inarmaz removed as a threat from the Sarmatian army. However, they soon find out that the temptation of gold is not easily quenched, as traitors from within their own ranks plot to seize the gold mine and steal all of the Emperor's gold, whilst setting their old comrades up to face a severe fight. The likes of which they haven't seen since Germania.

Wolves of the North / Harry Sidebottom.  Warrior of Rome 5.  In the fifth novel in Harry Sidebottom's acclaimed and bestselling Warrior of Rome historical fiction series, Ballista returns to undertake yet another epic mission -- while the Roman Empire reels in chaos around him....In AD 263, the Roman Empire is close to turmoil, violent uprising threatening to shatter the fragile balance of power. In the north, the tribes are increasingly bold in their raids on the Imperium. Ballista must undertake his most treacherous journey yet. He must face the Heruli -- the Eaters of Flesh, the Wolves of the North -- the most brutal tribe of them all, and try to turn them against one another. As Ballista and his retinue make their journey, someone -- or something -- is hunting them, picking them off one by one, and leaving a trail of mutilated corpses and terror. Ballista is in a strange land, among strange people, but is it possible that the greatest threat may come from within his own circle? Renowned for their skilled blending of action and historical accuracy, Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome novels take the reader from the shouts of the battlefield to the whisperings of the emperor's inner circle. Rich in detail and punctuated by harrowing action, there's no better way to transport yourself back to the days of the Roman Empire.

Wounds of Honour / Anthony Riches.  2009.  Empire Series.  : Marcus Valerius Aquila has scarcely landed in Britannia when he has to run for his life - condemned to dishonorable death by power-crazed Emperor Commodus. The plan is to take a new name, serve in an obscure regiment on Hadrian's Wall and lie low until he can hope for justice. Then a rebel army sweeps down from the wastes north of the Wall, and Marcus has to prove he's hard enough to lead a century in the front line of a brutal, violent war.

Zenobia (Warrior Queen) / Haley Elizabeth Garwood.  The Writers Block, Inc, 2005.  364pp.  Available through Interlibrary Loan : The fourth book in Haley Elizabeth Garwood's Warrior Queen Series, Zenobia, is the story of a 3rd century Syrian queen who fights the Romans. After the Romans assassinate Zenobia's husband, she pulls herself from the depths of despair and does what she does best -- marches her army against an ally turned enemy.

Selected Titles : Greece

The Afghan Campaign / Steven Pressfield.  New York : Doubleday, 2006.  354pp. Main Library PS3566.R3944 A69 2006 : 2,300 years ago an unbeaten army of the West invaded the homeland of a fierce Eastern tribal foe. This is one soldier’s story . . .The bestselling novelist of ancient warfare returns with a riveting historical novel that re-creates Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Afghan kingdoms in 330 B.C....In a story that might have been ripped from today’s combat dispatches, Steven Pressfield brings to life the confrontation between an invading Western army and fierce Eastern warriors determined at all costs to defend their homeland. Narrated by an infantryman in Alexander’s army, The Afghan Campaign explores the challenges, both military and moral, that Alexander and his soldiers face as they embark on a new type of war and are forced to adapt to the methods of a ruthless foe that employs terror and insurgent tactics. An edge-of-your-seat adventure, The Afghan Campaign once again demonstrates Pressfield’s profound understanding of the hopes and desperation of men in battle and of the historical realities that continue to influence our world.

Black Ships / Jo Graham.  New York : Orbit, 2008.  431pp. Browsing Collection (1 East) PS3607.R338 B55 2008 : Graham's exquisite and bleak debut views the events of The Aeneid through the oracle Gull, a disciple of the Lady of the Dead. Taken to the Lady's temple after being lamed in a chariot accident, Gull quickly displays her power to see the future. Her first vision-black ships fleeing a burning city-lets her recognize Aeneas when he arrives after the fall of Wilusa (the Hittite name for Troy), hoping to save those sold into slavery. Gull joins Aeneas, and they take the few remaining people of Wilusa on a glorious journey to find their scattered brethren and a site where they can found a new city. Historians will admire Graham's deft blending of Virgil's epic story and historical fact, most notably the creation of Egyptian princess Basetamon to take the place of magnificently anachronistic Dido. Graham's spare style focuses on action, but fraught meaning and smoldering emotional resonance overlay her deceptively simple words. Publishers Weekly.

The Bull from the Sea / Mary Renault.  Harmondsworth, England ; New York : Penguin Books, 1973, c1962.  234pp. Main Library PR6035.E55 B8 1973 : Reconstructs the legend of Theseus, the valiant youth who slew the Minotaur, became king, and brought prosperity to Attica. Chief among his heroic exploits is the seduction of Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, who irrevocably brought about both his greatest joy and his tragic destiny.

Creation: A Novel / Gore Vidal.  New York : Random House, c1981.  510pp. Main Library PS3543.I26 C7 : 2002 edition may be requested through MelCat from participating libraries  : A sweeping novel of politics, war, philosophy, and adventure – in a restored edition, featuring never-before-published material from Gore Vidal’s original manuscript – Creation offers a captivating grand tour of the ancient world. Cyrus Spitama, grandson of the prophet Zoroaster and lifelong friend of Xerxes, spent most of his life as Persian ambassador for the great king Darius. He traveled to India, where he discussed nirvana with Buddha, and to the warring states of Cathay, where he learned of Tao from Master Li and fished on the riverbank with Confucius. Now blind and aged in Athens–the Athens of Pericles, Sophocles, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Socrates–Cyrus recounts his days as he strives to resolve the fundamental questions that have guided his life’s journeys: how the universe was created, and why evil was created with good. In revisiting the fifth century b.c.–one of the most spectacular periods in history–Gore Vidal illuminates the ideas that have shaped civilizations for millennia. Note: 1981 version available in MSU Library.

Dark Prince / David Gemmell.  1993.  576pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : The chaos spirit had chosen the child Alexander to be its human host. But Parmenion, most powerful warrior of ancient Greece, had won a small victory over the darkness that sought to rule through Alexander. The boy's soul had not been destroyed by evil, but instead had merged with it -- and now Parmenion aided Alexander in the battle between light and dark that constantly raged within him.
But there was another world, where the creatures of Greece's legends still flourished. There, the chaos spirit already ruled, through a demon king. In this Greece, there was a prophecy that a child of great power, the legendary golden child, would come and restore the fading magic of the land to the creatures of myth. The demon king believed also that devouring the heart of this fabled child would give him immortality. He believed Alexander, with the power of the chaos spirit within him, to be that child. And so he called Alexander into his world . . .
Only Parmenion, guided by the seeress Derae, his lost love from another life, could hope to save Alexander from the demon king. But who could save the young prince from the chaos spirit that threatened to conquer his soul?

Fire from Heaven / Mary Renault.  New York, Pantheon Books [1969]  375pp. Main Library PR6035.E55 F5 : Alexander’s beauty, strength, and defiance were apparent from birth, but his boyhood honed those gifts into the makings of a king. His mother, Olympias, and his father, King Philip of Macedon, fought each other for their son’s loyalty, teaching Alexander politics and vengeance from the cradle. His love for the youth Hephaistion taught him trust, while Aristotle’s tutoring provoked his mind and Homer’s Iliad fueled his aspirations. Killing his first man in battle at the age of twelve, he became regent at sixteen and commander of Macedon’s cavalry at eighteen, so that by the time his father was murdered, Alexander’s skills had grown to match his fiery ambition.

Funeral Games / Mary Renault.  London : John Murray, [1981]  257pp. Main Library PR6035.E55 E45 : After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C .his only direct heirs were two unborn sons and a simpleton half-brother. Every long-simmering faction exploded into the vacuum of power. Wives, distant relatives, and generals all vied for the loyalty of the increasingly undisciplined Macedonian army. Most failed and were killed in the attempt. For no one possessed the leadership to keep the great empire from crumbling. But Alexander’s legend endured to spread into worlds he had seen only in dreams.

Funeral Games (Tyrant, 3) / Christian Cameron.  Orion, 2010.  512pp.  Satyrus and Melitta, twin heirs to a rich kingdom on the Black Sea, become desperate fugitives when their mother, the Scythian warrior-princess Srayanka, is cut down in a savage act of betrayal. Accompanied by their tutor, the Spartan Philokles, they must make a perilous journey west, pursued by ruthless assassins, to find sanctuary with the army of their father's closest friend, Diodorus. But Diodorus is caught up in the tangled web of alliances, betrayals and intrigue that followed Alexander the Great's death, as his generals fought over the huge empire he had created - and soon the twins will have their first taste of real battle as two Macedonian warlords clash. In this violent and unstable world, they must chose sides carefully, as Antigonus One-Eye, and his brilliant son Demetrius, prepare to take on the might of Ptolemy's Egypt, and the forces gather for the biggest and most spectacular battle the world had ever seen - Gaza.

Glory and the Lightning : A Novel of Ancient Greece / Taylor Caldwell.   Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1974.  468pp.  Available through interlibrary loan.  :  Born in the Greek city of Miletus, Aspasia was destined for a life of tragedy. Her wealthy father vowed to abandon any female child, so Aspasia was secreted away, educated independently of her family, and raised as a courtesan. She discovered at an early age how to use her powers of intellect as ingeniously as those of the flesh....  Ensconced in the Persian harems of Al Taliph, she meets the man who will change her fate: Pericles, the formidable political leader, statesman, ruler of Athens, and Aspasia’s most cherished lover. She becomes his trusted confidante, his equal through scandal, war, and revolt....   From the eruption of the Peloponnesian War to violent political and family rivalries to a devastating plague, author Taylor Caldwell plunges the reader into the heart of ancient Athens. In bringing to life the tumultuous love affairs and gripping power struggles of one of history’s most complicated and fascinating women, Glory and the Lightning is thrilling proof that “Caldwell never falters when it comes to storytelling” (Publishers Weekly).

Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae / Steven Pressfield.  Random House, 1999.  480pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : At Thermopylae, a rocky mountain pass in northern Greece, the feared and admired Spartan soldiers stood three hundred strong. Theirs was a suicide mission, to hold the pass against the invading millions of the mighty Persian army.  Day after bloody day they withstood the terrible onslaught, buying time for the Greeks to rally their forces. Born into a cult of spiritual courage, physical endurance, and unmatched battle skill, the Spartans would be remembered for the greatest military stand in history--one that would not end until the rocks were awash with blood, leaving only one gravely injured Spartan squire to tell the tale....

Hand of Isis / Jo Graham.  New York : Orbit, 2009.  513pp.  Browsing Collection (1 East) PS3607.R338 H36 2009 : Historical fantasist Graham (Black Ships) heads to Egypt with this elegant, engaging memoir of Charmian, half-sister and handmaiden to Cleopatra. The two young women and their other sister, Iras, are inseparable from childhood, getting one another into and out of numerous mishaps. As teenagers, they vow to Isis that they will protect Egypt from the covetous Romans, and in return for their devotion, the goddess rewards Cleopatra with the throne. Graham never resorts to melodrama even at the murder of Julius Caesar or to cliché when Charmian recalls her past lives, and she supplies plenty of superb historical detail, but doesn't let it overwhelm the narrative. Charmian's shy hopes, failures and devotion to Cleopatra and Isis make her one of the most memorable "witnesses to history" to emerge from fantasy in quite some time.  Publishers Weekly.

Killer of Men / Christian Cameron.  Orion, 2010.  Arimnestos is a farm boy when war breaks out between the citizens of his native Plataea and and their overbearing neighbours, Thebes. Standing in the battle line - the wall of bronze - for the first time, alongside his father and brother, he shares in a famous and unlikely victory. But after being knocked unconscious in the melee, he awakes not a hero, but a slave. Betrayed by his jealous and cowardly cousin, the freedom he fought for has now vanished, and he becomes the property of a rich citizen of Ephesus. So begins an epic journey from slavery that takes the young Arimnestos through a world poised on the brink of an epic confrontation, as the emerging civilization of the Greeks starts to flex its muscles against the established empire of the Persians. As he tries to make his fortune and revenge himself on the man who disinherited him, Arimnestos discovers that he has a talent that pays well in this new, violent world, for like his hero, Achilles, he is 'a killer of men'.

The King Must Die / Mary Renault.  [New York] Pantheon [1958]  338pp. Main Library PR6035.E55 K5 : The story of the mythical hero Theseus, slayer of monsters, abductor of princesses and king of Athens. He emerges from these pages as a clearly defined personality; brave, aggressive and quick. The core of the story is Theseus' Cretan adventure.

Kleopatra / Karen Essex.  New York : Warner Books, 2001.  382pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :  This retelling of the legendary Egyptian monarch's story opens when she is "three years old and she cannot speak even one sentence of passable Greek." All the familiar aspects of her life unfold with an emphasis on palace intrigues, royal excesses and scheming courtiers but Essex also highlights the young princess's prodigious talents for language, adventure and politics. In contrast to many authors who wish to humanize Kleopatra and focus only on her life as a woman, Essex chooses to explore her subject's absolute dedication to the political intrigues of her time, and her connection to Greek culture (hence the unusual spelling of her name). While the framework is familiar, her rendering of the ancient world's culture and political machinations make this fast-paced treatment of Kleopatra's adventures particularly engaging. Exhaustive research is evident throughout, in the form of intriguing minutiae such as a list of the exotic dishes at a banquet or meticulous descriptions of astounding displays during a pageant in honor of Dionysus. When Kleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII Auletes, is exiled to Rome, the young princess accompanies him, both literally and figuratively leaving behind her childhood in preparation for ruling Egypt. When she returns, she is named co-regent with her father, who dies shortly thereafter. She marries her half-brother and eventually raises an army with her cousin and lover, Archimedes. This volume ends with the young queen in exile, waiting for Julius Caesar; a sequel is in the works. Essex delivers a consistent and historically accurate reading of Kleopatra, and even those who think they know the queen will discover new facets of her life that will engage both theintellect and the senses.

Last of the Amazons / Steven Pressfield.  New York : Doubleday, 2002.  400pp. Main Library PS3566.R3944 L37 2002 : The author of the international bestsellers Gates of Fire and Tides of War delivers his most gripping and imaginative novel of the ancient world–a stunning epic of love and war that breathes life into the grand myth of the ferocious female warrior culture of the Amazons....Steven Pressfield has gained a passionate worldwide following for his magnificent novels of ancient Greece, Gates of Fire and Tides of War. In Last of the Amazons, Pressfield has surpassed himself, re-creating a vanished world in a brilliant novel that will delight his loyal readers and bring legions more to his singular and powerful restoration of the past....In the time before Homer, the legendary Theseus, King of Athens (an actual historical figure), set sail on a journey that brought him into the land of tal Kyrte, the “free people,” a nation of proud female warriors whom the Greeks called “Amazons.” The Amazons, bound to each other as lovers as well as fighters, distrusted the Greeks, with their boastful talk of “civilization.” So when the great war queen Antiope fell in love with Theseus and fled with the Greeks, the mighty Amazon nation rose up in rage....Last of the Amazons is not merely a masterful tale of war and revenge. Pressfield has created a cast of extraordinarily vivid characters, from the unforgettable Selene, whose surrender to the Greeks does nothing to tame her; to her lover, Damon, an Athenian warrior who grows to cherish the wild Amazon ways; to the narrator, Bones, a young girl from a noble family who was nursed by Selene from birth and secretly taught the Amazon way; to the great Theseus, the tragic king; and to Antiope, the noble queen who betrayed tal Kyrte for the love of Theseus....With astounding immediacy and extraordinary attention to military detail, Pressfield transports readers into the heat and terror of war. Equally impressive is his creation of the Amazon nation, its people, its rituals and myths, its greatness and savagery. Last of the Amazons is thrilling on every page, an epic tale of the clash between wildness and civilization, patriotism and love, man and woman.

The Last of the Wine / Mary Renault.  [New York] Pantheon [1956]  389pp. Main Library PR6035.E55 L3 : The story of Alexias, a young Athenian from a good family who gets drawn in to the controversial teachings of Socrates and a participates in the Olympic Games -- all set against the background of famine, siege and civil conflict.

Lion of Macedon / David Gemmell.  2005.  528pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : This enjoyable historical fantasy set in ancient Greece spans three decades in the career of Parmenion, a Spartan of mixed ancestry whose life is being shaped and monitored by an aging seeress. Scorned as a half-breed by the Spartans, he leaves vowing to wreak vengeance--which he does, at the head of a victorious Theban ar- my. Parmenion goes on to become Greece's preeminent soldier of fortune, a brilliant military strategist and tactician. Eventually, he hires on to Philip, the beleaguered king of Macedonia. Parmenion provides the young king with military help but, more importantly, intervenes in a ceremony meant to secure the siring of a child whose birth might signal the ultimate triumph of evil. Parmenion's final--and most meaningful--battle takes place not in this world but in Hades, where the forces of evil are held at bay long enough to deny the Dark God dominion over the newly born soul of Alexander the Great. Particularly enchanting in Gemmell's ( Legend ) ambitious book is the appearance of Aristotle as a wizard and guide through the underworld, a Greek combination of Arthur's Merlin and Dante's Virgil.  Publisher's Weekly.

The Lost Books of the Oddyssey.  Zachary Mason.  Picador, 2011.  240pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Mason's fantastic first novel, a deft reimagining of Homer's Odyssey, begins with the story as we know it before altering the perspective or fate of the characters in subsequent short story–like chapters. Legendary moments of myth are played differently throughout, as when Odysseus forgoes the Trojan horse, or when the Cyclops—here a gentle farmer—is blinded by Odysseus while he burgles the Cyclops's cave. Mason's other life—as a computer scientist—informs some chapters, such as The Long Way Back in which Daedalus's labyrinth ensnares Theseus in a much different way. Part of what makes this so enjoyable is the firm grasp Mason has on the source material; the footnotes double as humorous asides while reminding readers who aren't familiar with the original that, for instance, Eumaios is the swineherd who sheltered Odysseus when he first returned to Ithaca and later helped him kill the suitors. This original work consistently surprises and delights.

Marathon / Christian Cameron.  Orion, 2011.  400pp.  The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC was one of history's great turning points - the first time the Greeks managed to defeat the Persians in a pitched battle, it enabled the rise of classical Greek civilization. As John Stuart Mill famously put it, 'The Battle of Marathon, even as an event in British history, is more important than the Battle of Hastings.' Without it, the modern world as we know it would not exist. Christian Cameron's epic retelling of the battle will bring it alive, with all of its human drama and tragedy, as never before. The Greeks do not always behave well - in fact, many readers may come to see them as ignorant and bigoted as compared to the multi-cultural Persians, who for some, actually bring greater freedom - at least for a while. The heroic Militiades, who led the Greeks at Marathon and then died in exile, a ruined man, was a fatally flawed character. His opponent, The Persian King Darius, was guilty of vaulting ambition and hubris, but he combined it with personal integrity and vast generosity. And in the middle, torn between two cultures, one of which has already made him a slave, we find Arimnestos - ancestor of the Kineas of the Tyrant books - nicknamed 'Killer of Men', he will lead a decisive contingent of infantry in the thickest of the battle...

The Mask of Apollo / Mary Renault.  New York, Pantheon Books [1966]  371pp. Main Library PR6035.E55 M3 : Set in fourth-century B.C. Greece, The Mask of Apollo is narrated by Nikeratos, a tragic actor who takes with him on all his travels a gold mask of Apollo, a relic of the theater's golden age, which is now past. At first his mascot, the mask gradually becomes his conscience, and he refers to it his gravest decisions, when he finds himself at the center of a political crisis in which the philosopher Plato is also involved. Much of the action is set in Syracuse, where Plato's friend Dion is trying to persuade the young tyrant Dionysios the Younger to accept the rule of law. Through Nikeratos' eyes, the reader watches as the clash between the two looses all the pent-up violence in the city.

Memnon / Scott Oden.  [Odessa, Fla.] : Medallion Press, 2006. 503pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Memnon of Rhodes (375-333 BCE) walked in the footsteps of giants. As a soldier, sailor, statesman, and general, he was, in the words of Diodorus of Sicily, “outstanding in courage and strategic grasp.” A contemporary of Demosthenes and Aristotle, Memnon rose from humble origins to command the whole of western Asia in a time of strife and slaughter. To his own people, he was a traitor, to his rivals, a mercenary. But, to the King of Kings, his majesty Darius III of Persia, Memnon was the one man capable of defending Asia Minor from the rising power of the barbaric Macedonians. In a war pitting Greek against Greek, Memnon proved his quality beyond measure. His enemies fought for glory and gold; Memnon fought for something more, for loyalty, for honor, and for duty. He fought for the love of Barsine, a woman of remarkable beauty and grace. Most of all, he fought for the promise of peace. Through the deathbed recollections of a mysterious woman, the life of Memnon unfolds with brilliant clarity. It is a record of his triumphs and tragedies, his loves and losses, and of the determination that drove him to stand against the most renowned figure of the ancient world—the ambitious young conqueror called Alexander the Great.

The Persian Boy / Mary Renault.  New York, Pantheon Books [1972]  419pp. Main Library PR6035.E55 P4 1972 : The Persian Boy traces the last years of Alexander’s life through the eyes of his lover, Bagoas. Abducted and gelded as a boy, Bagoas was sold as a courtesan to King Darius of Persia, but found freedom with Alexander after the Macedon army conquered his homeland. Their relationship sustains Alexander as he weathers assassination plots, the demands of two foreign wives, a sometimes-mutinous army, and his own ferocious temper. After Alexander’s mysterious death, we are left wondering if this Persian boy understood the great warrior and his ambitions better than anyone.

Pharaoh: Volume II of Kleopatra / Karen Essex.  Grand Central Publishing, 2009.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : The second volume of Essex's Kleopatra series, which picks up as the 22-year-old queen of Egypt returns from exile in Rome, overflows with war, sex, political intrigue and the fruits of Essex's assiduous research on everything from ancient Egyptian religious ceremonies to traffic laws in Julius Caesar's Rome. Essex's Kleopatra is ruled by her lust for power. Everything she controls her body, her money is a tool with which to improve her position and that of her country. As she puts it, "In matters of state, let your blood run cold." She joins with Caesar, aligning Egypt with Rome, but when he's murdered, Kleopatra lays the groundwork for a similar association with Antony, to whom she is overwhelmingly attracted. Each of these alliances transcends its political motivation. Kleopatra loves both men, viewing Caesar as a mentor and Antony as a soul mate. Yet this love never clouds her self-promoting vision, making Essex's Kleopatra more than a simple seductress, as she is often portrayed. Indeed, the careful balance Essex strikes between Kleopatra's intimate emotional life and her statecraft makes this a satisfyingly nuanced and approachable portrait. As with its predecessor, the novel's rich language, attention to historical detail and fast-flowing action offer an invigorating read for those interested in ancient history or simply the thrills of battles and romance.

The Sand Reckoner / Gillian Bradshaw.  Forge, 2001.  320pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : Armed with just a few antique facts, Bradshaw ably recreates the extraordinary life of Archimedes, the great mathematician and engineer who built sophisticated weapons during the first Punic War. Archimedes lived in the Greek city of Syracuse from 287 to 212 B.C., except for a brief but glorious youthful stint in Alexandria, the hub of intellectual life in the classical age. Surrounded by men who share his genius for geometry, the absentminded Archimedes becomes intoxicated by numbers, often scribbling diagrams on tablecloths and staring for hours into a box of sand to calculate grains. After three years, he begrudgingly returns to his hometown with his slave, Marcus, to find his father dying and his city at war with the Romans. Putting his engineering skills to use for the army, Archimedes builds bigger and better catapults, and he is soon being courted for his talent by the good King Hieron. Jealous co-workers and an unexpected betrayal shadow Archimedes's rise to fame as the Archimechanic. But Syracuse is winning the war because of his inventions, and King Hieron gives him the royal treatment in an effort to keep him from accepting a job offer from King Ptolemy of Egypt. Archimedes sets his sights on Delia, King Hieron's half-sister, with whom he shares a love of music, but he must choose between her and the fair city of Alexandria, between a career as a simple engineer and the siren call of pure mathematics. Bradshaw (Island of Ghosts) is skilled at bringing historical figures to life, and this intriguing and entertaining novel of the boyish dreamer who possessed one of the ancient world's most brilliant minds demonstrates her vivid imagination.

Stealing Fire.  Jo Graham.  New York : Orbit, 2010. Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  Alexander the Great's soldier, Lydias of Miletus, has survived the final campaigns of the king's life. He now has to deal with the chaos surrounding his death. Lydias throws his lot in with Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals who has grabbed Egypt as his personal territory. Aided by the eunuch Bagoas, the Persian archer Artashir, and the Athenian courtesan Thais, Ptolemy and Lydias must take on all the contenders in a desperate adventure whose prize is the fate of a white city by the sea, and Alexander's legacy.

Storm of Arrows (Tyrant, Book 2) / Christian Cameron.  Orion, 2009.  384pp.  Kineas, the Athenian cavalry commander, has come a long way since being dismissed from the army of Alexander and vengefully exiled by his own city. Together, his mercenary force and their Scythian allies have defeated a mighty Macedonian army at the Ford of the River God, and his adopted city of Olbia is now free once more. But his destiny will not allow him to enjoy the fruits of victory for long. Far to the east, at the farthest edge of the Sea of Grass, Alexander is threatening to crush the Scythian hordes once and for all. The Lady Srayanka of the Cruel Hands, the Scythian warrior-princess who spurned a king's love to be at Kineas's side, is pledged to take her tribe east to help stop 'the monster' - and Kineas knows he has no choice but to follow, even if it means embracing the violent death in battle that he has seen prefigured in countless dreams. But long before he can confront the might of Alexander's army alongside his beloved Srayanka, he must undertake an epic journey, of breathtaking daring, taking an army through hundreds of miles of hostile terrain - towards his own appointment with fate.

The Sun's Bride / Gillian Bradshaw.  Severn House, 2008.  231pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : Bradshaw’s latest offers swashbuckling, seafaring adventure, political intrigue, a dash of romance, and a meticulously researched historical mystery set in 246 BCE. Isokrates is commanding his first ship, hunting down pirates who attack sailing vessels and sell their passengers and crew as slaves. So when he sinks a pirate ship, he is elated—especially when he rescues Dionysia, a beautiful young woman captured by the pirates. Isokrates learns that, before the pirates waylaid her, Dionysia was on her way to the Egyptian court of King Ptolemy to inform him of a deadly plan by King Antiochos of Miletos to attack Cairo. War may be imminent, but Isokrates’ head is filled with visions of the luscious Dionysia. Although he is far too poor to marry her, he can at least find the pirate who captured her and avenge her ill-treatment. So off he sails on a mission that will bring him plenty of surprises. An action-filled plot replete with larger-than-life characters combines nicely with a believable picture of life on the Mediterranean more than two millennia ago.

Ten Thousand : A Novel of Ancient Greece / Michael Curtis Ford.  New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2001.  383pp.  Main Library   PS3606.O74 T4 2001 : In 401 B.C., a thundering army of mercenaries, camp followers, dreamers, and glory seekers set off to help a rebellious foreign general named Cyrus. In the months that followed, ten thousand men--trained and hardened in three decades of war in Greece--would engage in pitched battles, witness untold horrors, and begin a desperate march across he desert, over raging rivers, and into the jaws of hell itself. By the time it was over, some would be alive, others dead, and one among them would emerge and the greatest hero of all...In a novel of high adventure and riveting historical drama, Michael Curtis Ford brings to life an amazing true story from Greek antiquity--Xenophon's march of the ten Thousand. A tale of war and peace, of loyalties and betrayals, and of a soldier's love for a mysterious and dangerous woman, The Ten Thousand captures the eternal spirit of courage--in the face of impossible odds.

Tides of War: A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War / Steven Pressfield.  New York : Doubleday, c2000.  426pp. Main Library PS3566.R3944 T54 2000 :  Yoked together, the great warrior-hero Alcibiades and the legendary city-state of Athens were virtually unbeatable; but divided from Athens, Alcibiades went on to lead Sparta and Persia to glory. This epic novel tells the story of the proud, hardheaded soldier whose heroics and passions fueled the Peloponnesian War and whose fatal flaws left him exiled from all factions at the end of his life.

Troy : Fall of Kings (Troy Series #3) / David Gemmell and Stella Gemmell.  New York : Ballantine Books, c2007. 447pp.  Browsing Collection (1 East) PR6057.E454 T76 2007 : Outside the golden city of Troy, Prince Hektor leads the Trojan cavalry in daring raids against the forces led by his young rival, the peerless warrior Achilles. Meanwhile, burning for vengeance after the brutal murder of his wife, Helikaon commands the Trojan fleet, sowing misery and death among the Mykene navy and supply ships. But even these mighty efforts are of scant avail against the hordes of battle-hardened Mykene infantry, the Myrmidon soldiers of Achilles, and the cunning strategies of Odysseus, compelled against his heart’s urgings to aid the cause of Agamemnon....Now, before the gates of Troy, Hektor and Achilles will find themselves inexorably drawn into a battle of champions that will decide the fate of the innocents trapped within the city walls. There, as King Priam slips into madness, Andromache–wife of Hektor, lover of Helikaon, mother, warrior, and priestess–must navigate a maze of treachery and danger to save her children and her city from the massacre about to unfold.

Troy : Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy Series #1) / David Gemmell. New York : Del Rey Books, c2005. 476pp.  Main Library PR6057.E454 L67 2005  : He is a man of many names. Some call him the Golden One; others, the Lord of the Silver Bow. To the Dardanians, he is Prince Aeneas. But to his friends, he is Helikaon. Strong, fast, quick of mind, he is a bold warrior, hated by his enemies, feared even by his Trojan allies. For there is a darkness at the heart of the Golden One, a savagery that, once awakened, can be appeased only with blood....Argurios the Mykene is a peerless fighter, a man of unbending principles and unbreakable will. Like all of the Mykene warriors, he lives to conquer and to kill. Dispatched by King Agamemnon to scout the defenses of the golden city of Troy, he is Helikaon’s sworn enemy....Andromache is a priestess of Thera betrothed against her will to Hektor, prince of Troy. Scornful of tradition, skilled in the arts of war, and passionate in the ways of her order, Andromache vows to love whom she pleases and to live as she desires....Now fate is about to thrust these three together–and, from the sparks of passionate love and hate, ignite a fire that will engulf the world....Readers who know the works of David Gemmell expect nothing less than excellence from this author, whose taut prose, driving plots, and full-bodied characters have won him legions of fans the world over. Now, with this first masterly volume in an epic reimagining of the Trojan War, Gemmell has written an ageless drama of brave deeds and fierce battles, of honor and treachery, of love won and lost. Source : Publishers Weekly.

Troy : Shield of Thunder (Troy Series #2) / David Gemmell.  New York : Ballantine Books, c2006.  490pp.  Main Library PR6057.E454 S55 2006 : Prolific historical novelist Gemmell continues his imaginative and addictive Trojan War trilogy with this second installment (after Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow). While King Agamemnon schemes and "dreams of a war with Troy," rival monarch Priam of Troy maneuvers to secure his city's future through the marriage of his son Hektor to Princess Andromache of Thebe Under Plakos. Born with a birthmark resembling the shield of Athene—"the Shield of Thunder"—Andromache will, according to prophesy, bear the Eagle Child: a king who will never be defeated and whose city "will be eternal." Faithful to Homeric legend, there is enough intrigue, treachery and sanguinary violence to keep readers riveted as Priam publicly humiliates King Odysseus of Ithaka, who had hoped to remain neutral in the coming conflict. With Odysseus and the demigod warrior Achilles among his allies, Agamemnon attacks Troy in a war for hegemony. Seamlessly blending legend, mythology and history, Gemmell vividly recreates the world of the Greek city-states in all of their nobility and pettiness. Lively and seductive, this is historical fiction at its page-turning best. Source : Publishers Weekly.

Tyrant / Christian Cameron.  Orion, 2008.  480pp.  Glory. Death. Well-born Athenian cavalry officer, Kineas, fought shoulder to shoulder with Alexander in his epic battles against the Persian hordes. But on his return from the east to his native city, he finds not glory but shame - and exile. With nothing to his name but his military skills, Kineas agrees to lead a band of veterans to the city of Olbia, where the Tyrant is offering good money to train the city's elite cavalry. But soon Kineas and his men find they have stumbled into a deadly maze of intrigue and conspiracy as the Tyrant plots to use them as pawns in the increasingly complex power games between his own citizens, and the dread military might of Macedon. Caught between his duty to the Tyrant, his loyalty to his men and a forbidden love affair with a charismatic Scythian noblewoman, Kineas must call on all his Athenian guile, his flair on the battlefield, and even - he is convinced - the intervention of the gods, to survive.

Tyrant : King of the Bosporus (Tyrant 4) / Christian Cameron.  Orion, 2011.  416pp. Satyrus and Melitta, twin heirs to a rich kingdom on the Black Sea, were hounded into exile in FUNERAL GAMES after their mother was brutally murdered by one of their father's former comrades, Heron. Heron now rules the land that is theirs by right, but the twins are older and battle-hardened in the wars of Alexander's Successors. Once they have gathered their forces, nothing will stop them from exacting a terrible revenge...

The Virtues of War : A Novel of Alexander the Great / Steven Pressfield.  New York : Doubleday, 2004.  348pp. Main Library PS3566.R3944 V57 2004 : Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) ascended to the throne of Macedon at the age of twenty. He fought his greatest battles - including the conquest of the mighty Persian Empire - before he was twenty-five and died at the age of thirty-three, still undefeated by any enemy. His reputation as supreme warrior and leader of men is unsurpassed in the annals of history. In this brilliantly imagined first-person voice of Alexander the Great, acclaimed novelist Steven Pressfield brings to life his epic battles, his unerring command of his forces, and the passions and ambitions that drove him.

When We Were Gods : A Novel of Cleopatra / Colin Falconer.  New York : Crown Publishers, c2000.  462pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  :  Falconer paints an enthralling fictional portrait of one of the most powerful and beguiling women of all ages. Fiercely independent, politically astute, and exotically beautiful, Cleopatra is threatened by both domestic and international enemies from the moment she inherits the throne of Egypt until the time of her premature death. To protect both her public and her private interests, she engages in passionate affairs with both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Motivated by both ambition and love, Cleopatra forges diplomatic and personal bonds with Rome that inevitably result in deception and warfare. The author interweaves the fast-paced narrative with authentic period details that vivify the exotic splendor of ancient Egypt. Spectacular historical fiction blazing with intrigue, romance, and dramatic action.

Other Areas

The Assyrian / Nicholas Guild.  New York : Atheneum, 1987. 552pp.  Main Library PS3557.U357 A9 1987 : Set in ancient Ashur (called Assyria by Greeks), this absorbing epic novel dramatically portrays two royal half-brothers whose childhood camaraderie later gives way to acrimony and violence. Tiglath and Esarhaddon, sons of aging King Sennacherib, grow up amicably and share rigorous military training. Their friendship dissolves when the king's priest proclaims the gods' decree that Esarhaddon will be the next monarch. Resentful of Sennacherib's preference for Tiglath and not eager to assume his prospective duties, Esarhaddon dreads his fate, while noble Tiglath unhappily refrains from usurping the throne out of a concern for his country's well-being. Even more disturbing to Tiglath, however, is the certainty that his lover, comely Esharhamat, must become the future sovereign's bride. Reeling with grief, Tiglath leaves Ashur to become a seasoned conqueror worthy of his compatriots' homage, yet a momentous clash between him and Esarhaddon still awaits. Guild (The Berlin Warning masterfully describes court intrigues and the feverish panorama of the battlefield, but the book's abundant merit lies in its timelessness and universality. This story of a passionately moral man torn among amorous longings, the seductiveness of power, fraternal emotion and cognizance of his nation's welfare holds many contemporary implications.

Dawn of Empire / Sam Barone.  Harper, 2007.  608pp.  Request through MelCat or Interlibrary Loan.  : Former software designer Barone sets his entertaining debut novel in Mesopotamia at the dawn of civilization. The nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes, who in 2500 B.C.E. still dominate the fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, are agitated at encroaching gentrification. Barbarian chieftain Thutmose-sin announces that Orak, the agricultural "great village" of 2,000 people nestled along the banks of the Tigris, "defies our way of life" and must be destroyed. Instead of fleeing the fearsome barbarian warriors who have never been defeated by "dirt eaters," the citizens of Orak stay and fight. They're led by a former barbarian, Eskkar, and his young slave mistress, Trella, who is wise beyond her years and station. The apocalyptic battle that ensues will determine which culture—that of the nomad or the villager—will prevail. Barone's characters are engaging enough, if not fully realized, and the action is fast-paced, if sometimes predictable. The combat scenes, gritty and bloody, are especially vivid. Equal parts history lesson, love story and war saga, Barone's first historical will have readers turning pages.

Empire Rising / Sam Barone. Harper, 2008.  576pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Barone returns to the cradle of civilization in his sanguinary sequel to Dawn of Empire. Lord Eskkar, a former barbarian who earlier saved the city of Akkad from almost-certain defeat, and Lady Trella, an erstwhile slave and his wife, now rule the biggest city on the Tigris. Hoping to crush the bandits marauding in the countryside and extend Akkadian rule, Eskkar dispatches one band of soldiers south from Akkad and leads another north. In Eskkar's absence, Korthac, a newly arrived Egyptian warrior posing as a trader, schemes to infiltrate the city with his followers and seize power. Korthac sends assassins to track down Eskkar, and bandits south to ambush the returning Akkadian soldiers. Inside the city, his followers attack the soldiers left behind to keep order and take a pregnant Lady Trella prisoner. The ruthless Korthac plans to kill Trella once his rule is established, but, unknown to him, Eskkar survives and is preparing to retake the city. The frenetic action might be predictable, but it's never boring. The setting is convincingly rendered, and the characters—heroes and villains—are sharply drawn. Fans of ancient historical fiction will enjoy this instructive journey to the dawn of civilization.

The Heretic Queen : A Novel / Michelle Moran.  New York : Crown Publishers, c2008.  383pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  The intricacies of the ancient Egyptian court are brought to life in Moran's fascinating tale of a princess's rise to power. Nefertari, niece of the famed heretic queen Nefertiti, becomes part of the court of Pharaoh Seti I after her family is deposed, and she befriends Ramesses II, the young crown prince. When Ramesses is made co-monarch, he weds Iset, the granddaughter of a harem girl backed by Seti's conniving sister, Henuttawy, the priestess of Isis. As Nefertari's position in the court becomes tenuous, she realizes that she, too, wants to marry Ramesses and enlists the help of Seti's other sister, Woserit. But when Nefertari succeeds in wedding Ramesses, power struggles and court intrigues threaten her security, and it is questionable whether the Egyptian people will accept a heretic descendant as their ruler or if civil war will erupt. Moran (Nefertiti) brings her characters to life, especially Nefertari, who helped Ramesses II become one of the most famous of Egyptian pharaohs. Nefertari's struggles to be accepted as a ruler loved as a leader and to secure her family's position throughout eternity are sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction.

Horses of Heaven / Gillian Bradshaw.  Spectra, 1992.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries :  British novelist Bradshaw has created a richly detailed, absorbing historical novel of the ancient world, with strong, well-developed characters and all the right plot elements: love, war, courtly life and the magic of the gods. In 140 B.C., narrator Tomryis, age 18, is chosen by Saka King Mauakes of Ferghana (now Afghanistan), to attend his new wife, Heliokleia, a Greek from the kingdom of Bactra. The marriage is a political alliance, and Mauakes makes it clear that beautiful, intelligent Heliokleia is to have only limited powers. The aloof queen decides to seek her soul's release by being the perfect ruler. Mauakes's grown son Itaz, devoted to his father, is sensitive to both the king's isolation behind the mask of power and Heliokleia's emotional suffering. Eventually Mauakes falls in love with his wife, but he can't demand her affection, which has settled on Itaz. Aided by their sun god patron, Heliokleia and Itaz must confront the paranoid, embittered Mauakes and endure a horrible confrontation with a supernatural creature. Well-researched, interesting details on the cultural and religious customs of the period provide background for the noble characters, who fulfill the promise, good or evil, of their true natures.

Quest for Honour / Sam Barone.  Random House, 2011.  618pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries  : The beginning of civilization is fraught with war, invasion, plunder, and rapine. The little city state of Akkad is carving out a mini-Empire on the banks of the mighty Tigris river—prosperity has returned after the bloody pitched battles waged by Akkad’s ruler Eskkar and his beautiful wife Trella. But now comes Akkad’s greatest threat from the south: Akkad’s rival Sumer, a port city at the hub of the great sea trade routes. Sumer is poised to give birth to the mightiest empire in history. It is ruled by an incestuous parricide and his power-hungry sister who are determined to crush and enslave the nation state on their northern borders. Esskar and Trella must prepare their fledgling nation for total war before it is too late. This time it will be a battle not of villages or of roving warrior bands, but a battle for Empire and a fight to the death. As ever Eskkar, the ultimate warrior and battle tactician, must pit his wits against a vastly superior force in a battle to the death.

The Woman Who Would Be Pharaoh : A Novel of Ancient Egypt / William Klein.  Clearwater, FL : Kunati, 2009.  297pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Ranging from the flood plains of the Nile to the snow-covered passes of the Taurus Mountains, this historical novel is set in the tumultuous period of the waning 18th Egyptian Dynasty, and follows Ankhesenamun, the newly widowed wife of the murdered Tutankhamun. She rules over a court rife with intrigues, assassins and daring sexual liaisons. Facing a forced marriage to her own grandfather—who covets the throne for himself—Ankhesenamun desperately turns to her dear friend, the warrior and scholar Menkhara, for help. She sends him on an impossible mission to the land of the Hittites, and the court of the most feared ruler of the ancient world. His task is to bring one of the sons of this sworn enemy of Egypt to be Ankhesenamun's husband, thus saving her throne. This saga is at once a portrait of a remarkable queen willing to embrace in marriage her country’s ancient foe to save her crown, and a heartbreaking love story that weaves history, mystery, regicide, incest and a terrifying conclusion into a compelling tale.


Alchemy of Fire / Gillian Bradshaw. Severn House, 2004.  256pp.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Bradshaw weaves a story of love, war, treachery, and magic set in seventh-century Constantinople. Anna, former concubine of the emperor's disgraced brother, Theodosius, has retired to a quiet life as a perfumer. The only token she has of her former life is her teenage daughter, Theodosia. But when handsome Syrian alchemist Kallinokos arrives in Constantinople, her life is turned upside down. Not only does Theodosia see Kallinokos as a dear friend but Anna finds herself falling in love with him. He is working on a secret weapon--unquenchable fire--that could save the city from the Arab fleet that might attack at any time. Unfortunately, his superior is an insecure man who fears Kallinokos may find favor with the emperor, so he arranges for Kallinokos to be jailed on trumped-up charges. When Theodosia seeks a personal audience with Constantine to plead Kallinokos' case, forces are set into play that change many lives forever. A gripping adventure with a dash of romance, a soupcon of suspense, engaging characters, and vivid historical detail make this genre bender a good choice for historical fiction collections.

The Bearkeeper's Daughter / Gillian Bradshaw.  Houghton Mifflin, 1987.  310pp. Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Bradshaw's growing renown as a historical novelist should be enhanced by this story, set in Constantinople. To the recorded facts about Justinian I and his empress Theodora, Bradshaw adds an illegitimate son born to Theodora. John arrives from Arabia seeking the truth of statements his father made on his deathbed. Afraid to acknowledge him, Theodora finds a place for John as secretary to the palace chamberlain. Later, he becomes involved in court intrigue, riots, and war in Thrace. John's uncertainties over his status and his unfamiliarity with a new life are deftly portrayed. Swift-moving, engrossing in plot and characterization, this is highly recommended.

Belt of Gold / Cecilia Holland.  New York : Knopf, 1984. 305pp.  Main Library PS3558.O348 B4 1984   : The focus of this book is the Empress Irene, a member of the merely provincial aristocracy who ruled Constantinople for a few years at the end of the 8th century -- a contemporary of the newly crowned Charlemagne, whom some would have like d to see her marry in order to re-unify the old Roman empire. Irene is a consummate politician who acted as Regent for her son after the death of her husband, Leo IV, who had supported the Iconoclasts to the great detriment of Constantinople, and which Irene brought to an end. When her son began to reinstate the destruction of icons, Irene had him blinded (since an "imperfect" man could not rule) and replaced him on the throne. And she called herself basileus, which means "emperor," not "empress." That much is history. Into this social and religious maelstrom comes young Hagen, a minor Frankish nobleman, on a pilgrimage with his brother to the Holy Land (as an alternative to being hanged back home). The two young men are approaching the Great City when they unintentionally become involved in a political plot involving a list of conspirators stolen by a young woman in the employ of Irene, and the brother is killed. Hagen swears revenge (if he can find out who's responsible), but when he arrives in the City he's drawn into the orbit not only of the girl but of Irene herself, who finds herself fascinated by the barbarian. He's intelligent and courageous and loves a fight, but also capable of tenderness -- not at all what either of the two women expected. But there's another plot, too -- the rivalry between the two greatest drivers in the races at the Hippodrome, for the races (the champion of which holds the golden belt) are the only thing other than the intricacies of religious doctrine that can really arouse the passions of the Byzantines. But there's a third plot -- the desire of John Cerulis to be emperor. In fact, he regards the throne as his right, since the notion of a woman running the empire is blasphemous. The list of names, in fact, was his. And there's yet another plot, involving an ascetic holy man from the desert who wants to spread the iconoclasm again, but who is co-opted by the increasingly pathological John Cerulis. (Actually, there are several more minor plotlines, but that's enough to be going on with.) Over it all is Irene, pulling the strings, and all the threads will come together in the end. And very few of the major players will escape whole.

Count Belisarius / Robert Graves. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Penguin Books [1954]  421pp.  Main Library PR6013.R35 C67 1954 : Count Belisarius is about the sixth century Byzantine general Belisarius in the service of the great emperor Justinian. Belisarius is the scorge of the Vandals, the Persians and the Goths, but they are not the only enemies he has. Back in Constantinople the emperor, jealous of his succes, is continuously plotting against his loyal subject. If it weren't for the friendship between Belisarius' wife and the empress Theodora, things would have looked much bleaker for the Roman empire because Belisarius is doing just fine in kicking the barbarians back to the frontiers of the old empire. Fans of historical novels and Graves will find much to enjoy here and in the process learn a lot about a relatively unknown period in the history of the Roman empire, namely the one after the fall of the Western Empire and between the actual Byzantine period. This is a period when the emperors in Constantinople still considered themselves to be masters of the entire mediterranean, if not in actuality , then at least in name and constantly strove to reassert their authority.

The Dark Angel / Mika Waltari; translated by Naomi Walford.  New York, Putnam [1953]  374pp.  Main Library PH355.W3 D3 : "Today I am called a spy and the lover of the empires most desirable woman. But no one knows my true identity and no one ever shall. For it is the year 1453; and here in Constantinople a mighty Christian empire is dying brutally as the Moslem hordes storm its massive wall."

Empress of Byzantium / [Translated from the German original by the author with the assistance of Leona Nevler]  New York : Coward-McCann, c1952.  376pp.  Main Library PA5610.M246 E5713 1952 : In the last days of the Roman Empire, Christianity challenged a world rotten with depravity and weak from incessant war. Out of the splendor and squalor of those turbulent days comes the story of Athenais, a beautiful pagan who rose to be Empress of Byzantium, the envied bride of the young Emperor Theodosius II.The young Queen was a virtual prisoner amidst the barbaric splendor of the royal palace, enslaved by her husband's possessive lust. When she sought escape in the love of the handsome Lord Chamberlain, Paulinus, she unleashed the demoniacal fury of the Emperor, who plunged the Empire into an orgy of violence and destruction.

Imperial Purple / Gillian Bradshaw. 324pp.  Houghton Mifflin, 1986.  Available through MelCat from participating libraries : Bradshaw creates a compelling fictional character, Demetrias. Wife and mother, well-born slave, she is the premier silk weaver working in fifth century Tyre, where life and commerce revolve around the precious purple dye that symbolizes the power of imperial Rome. When Demetrias is assigned to weave a cloak in the proscribed imperial color, but not of measurements to fit Emperor Theodosius II, she realizes that treachery is afoot, but refusal is not a slave's option. Her survival depends on devising a strategy to save her life and those of her family. The plot twists and turns through a diorama of actual events involving historical figures, notably Demetrias's encounter with the emperor's formidable sister, Pulcheria. Historical novels are stamped by both the writer and the backdrop of an era; Imperial Purple is doubly embossed with strength in a style that will appeal to readers of Robert Graves and Mary Renault. The author's historical afterword further illuminates the turbulent Byzantine era.

Their Most Serene Majesties / Ange Vlachos. Translated from the Greek by Kay Cicellis.  London, Bodley Head, [1963]  318pp.  Main Library  PA5610.B55 T47 

Byzantium Empire - Fiction.  A compilation of titles by GoodReads.

Michigan State University