“Rivals of the Republic” by Annelise Freisenbruch was published by Duckworth Overlook on 20th October 2016.
The body of a Vestal Virgin is dragged out of the River Tiber. A senator bleeds to death in his bath. As the authorities turn a blind eye, Hortensia, daughter of the capital s most celebrated orator, feels compelled to investigate a trail of murders that lead to the dark heart of Rome. Flying in the face of her husband’s and father s attempts to protect her, rebelling against the constraints imposed upon her sex, she is drawn ever deeper into the corrupt underworld that lurks in the shadows cast by the city s all-powerful elite. When fires begin to rage in the slums and other key witnesses are silenced, only one man can save Hortensia from becoming the next victim of a conspiracy to destroy the Republic: Lucrio, the damaged ex-gladiator to whom she already owes her life. But will the secrets of his own tragic past threaten to subsume them both…
This is set in Rome, 70BC, its main protagonist is Hortensia, daughter of a notable and renowned lawyer Hortentsius. She has her fathers tenacity, skills and understanding of law and the Roman legal system. She discovers a devious plan that if successful will send shock waves throughout Rome, she will call on the help of an ex gladiator to delve into this murky world of back stabbing, underhandedness that is called politics. It soon becomes obvious that Hortensia is not your average Roman, but a strong-willed individual with strong moral ideals.
This book took a couple of chapters to get into before I really got the feel for it. There are quite a few characters, with some similar sounding names, as well as getting into the story, but as I started to get a handle on this I was then able to really enjoy it. Once in full flow, it became obvious that the author really knows and loves her subject, her knowledge of law, society, status and history. I really liked the characters of Hortensia and Lucrio, as well as the dodgy Petro. As mentioned previously there are a lot of characters, and they have a varied range of traits and characteristics that make them memorable as the story progresses. Also in this book is a handy lists at the beginning of who’s who, and what their role is.
The author mentions at the end of the book that she has used many actual historical figures and accounts of events, she has then woven her story around this. The story revolves around a murder / mystery, but it much more than that. What made it more enjoyable for me was the historical content such as people, places, habits, customs, social class and structure and the differences between people. I would recommend this book to people who like historical fiction and murder mystery genres.
About the Author:
Annelise Freisenbruch was born in Bermuda in 1977. After moving to the UK with her family, she studied Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and was awarded a PhD in 2004. She is the author of The First Ladies of Rome (Jonathan Cape), a highly-acclaimed history of Rome’s empresses, which was published in the US as Caesars’ Wives: Sex, Power and Politics in the Roman Empire (Free Press) and has been translated into eight languages. Her first novel Rivals of the Republic – which previously appeared Amazon e-book Blood in the Tiber – was published by The Overlook Press (US) and Duckworth (UK) in 2016. She lives with her partner in Dorset where she teaches Latin.
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (10 Aug. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0715652206
- ISBN-13: 978-0715652206
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