This book, set in Rome and the Roman Empire age, was a delight to read. This book involved so many characters, the first introduced being Achillas and Draco. Draco, first, is perceived by other characters as an “excellent merchant of impeccable reputation”. This sets the bar as to how the reader should perceive him and how the other characters already do. Following the first book, this one glides along with Cletus much more, and his personality is dug even deeper in this book than in the last. I became aware that he had an imperial warrant which automatically helped display his superiority. He also comes off as a fair and honest man who proposes gentle concerns on sensitive and large-scale topics, without losing his status as well-respected. I noticed he always smiles “inwardly” which also leads me to believe he has a mind of a genius, always thinking and observing to himself. Emperor Trajan is also introduced in the second chapter, as well as the setting in Mesopotamia aside from Rome, which opens a portal for the visual appeal the words in the story create. I also notice much more sentence structure and differing lengths throughout the whole novel, weaving in and out of the emphasis on certain topics by providing a little or a lot of context to each idea. The detail to explain the ideologies and time frame in which the story is placed is exquisite. Some of these details just touched at the surface in this review, included the setting, presentation of social class and rank, hierarchy of princes and emperors, and even captive slave warriors. All these minor but sufficient details provided greatly to the story’s overall complexity. Along with details, imperials are a big notion in this book with great reference to weapon production which shows what is used and why; arrows, spears, gladius, and scutae. There are so many characters, this review pinpointing my personal favorites, but all of them contribute to the storyline and are so well developed and clearly placed that it is never confusing or hard to keep track of who is speaking or acting in each scene. Two other characters I loved were Marcus Crassus and Livia. Marcus Crassus is a stubborn soldier who went on his own over the king’s orders and as a result, had a very resourceful consequence which teaches everyone in the story, and as a reader, a lesson. However, I will not spoil that. On the flip side, I love Livia. Her heart-filled and genuine personality is indescribable and makes her irresistible. She also has a very reflective side to her traits, always thinking both in her head and out loud. The last thing I want to speak on without spoiling the book is how the Rome setting and the tense inclusion of treaties and politics is perfectly balanced with secluded, risky romance. The secretive bonds and relationships are intriguing, to say the least, but again, I am going to keep from spitting too much detail to avoid spoilers. You will just have to read the book yourself. Overall, this was such a quick-paced and interesting book to read. Following “The Dacian Enigma”, this novel perfectly flows into the next steps for the overall plot and introduces so many characters while keeping all the old ones relevant. Definitely give this book a shot if you are interested in being completely indulged in a different time, with different aspects of life than modern society.
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