In the international bestseller Roma, Steven Saylor told the story of the first thousand years of Rome by following the descendants of a single bloodline. Now, in Empire, Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the Pinarius family, from the reign of the first emperor, Augustus, to the glorious height of Rome's empire under Hadrian.
Through the eyes of the Pinarii, we witness the machinations of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, the cruel escapades of Nero, and the chaos of the Year of Four Emperors in 69 A.D. The deadly paranoia of Domitian is followed by the Golden Age of Trajan and Hadrian-but even the most enlightened emperors wield the power to inflict death and destruction on a whim.
Empire is strewn with spectacular scenes, including the Great Fire of 64 A.D. that ravaged the city, Nero's terrifying persecution of the Christians, and the mind-blowing opening games of the Colosseum. But at the novel's heart are the wrenching choices and seductive temptations faced by each new generation of the Pinarii. One unwittingly becomes the sexual plaything of the notorious Messalina. One enters into a clandestine affair with a Vestal virgin. One falls under the charismatic spell of Nero, while another is drawn into the strange new cult of those who deny the gods and call themselves Christians.
However diverse their destinies and desires, all the Pinarii are united by one thing: the mysterious golden talisman called the fascinum handed down from a time before Rome existed. As it passes from generation to generation, the fascinum seems to exercise a power not only over those who wear it, but over the very fate of the empire.
Praise for Steven Saylor:
'Saylor expertly weaves the true history of Rome with the lives and loves of its fictional citizens.' Daily Express
'Saylor's scholarship is breathtaking and his writing enthrals' Ruth Rendell
'With the scalpel-like deftness of a Hollywood director, Saylor puts his finger on the very essence of Roman history.' Times Literary Supplement
'Readers will find his work wonderfully (and gracefully) researched... this is entertainment of the first order.' Washington Post
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. \n