MysteryPeople Review: THE WRATH OF FURIES by Steven Saylor

Steven Saylor, Austinite and author of the Gordianus the Finder historical detective novels, joins us at BookPeople to speak and sign his latest, Wrath of the Furieson Tuesday, November 3rd, at 7 PM

  • Post by Molly

wrath of the furiesSteven Saylor has thrilled us for years with the adventures of Gordianus the Finder, a private detective in ancient Rome. By the power gifted to him by the historical fiction genre, Gordianus, along with his former slave/later wife Bethesda, manages to meet most important figures and be at the center of most historical events in the transition from republic to dictatorship, serving as a cheeky guide to wonders and pitfalls of the ancient world. Saylor’s wrapped up his Roma Sub Rosa series, in which Gordianus first appears, and has recently embarked on a new series, Ancient World, exploring the world of Gordianus’ youth and focusing more on events across the Mediterranean.

In Seven Wonders, Gordianus and his tutor travel to each of the seven wonders of the ancient world, parting ways, at the end of the novel, in Egypt. Wrath of the Furies takes up where Seven Wonders leaves off, in the great city of Alexandria. Gordianus, young and in love with his Egyptian slave Bethesda, recklessly risks all to travel to the midst of a war zone to rescue an old friend. He encounters treachery, obstacles, and intrigue along the way, as he races to stop the anti-Roman crusader King Mithridates, who has come up with a plan to slaughter every Roman citizen within his conquered territory.

As Gordianus travels deep into enemy territory, eventually ending up in the city of Ephesus, with its great Temple of Artemis, Saylor takes every opportunity to show us the wondrous and the grotesque. Wrath of the Furies, like Saylor’s previous novels, balances action, historical description, and comparative cultural analysis, all while moving the plot along. Saylor is a master of historical fiction, placing the larger context of Mithridates’ planned slaughter of the Romans within a personal quest by Gordianus to aid his friends, and thus heightening the plot’s tension without losing the historical context.

Wrath of the Furies is just as epic, and just as personal, as any of Saylor’s previous books to star the intrepid Gordianus. Unusually for Saylor, Wrath of the Furies focuses on Romans as victims, rather than perpetrators, rounding out his previous focus on portraying Rome as a complex, and often villainous, society. His portrayal of Mithridates’ actions, like many of the misdeeds in previous novels, is eerily reminiscent of the 20th century. Saylor writes chillingly of Mithridates’ soldiers rounding up Romans for mass execution and forcing Roman men to wear the toga, previously reserved for formal occasions, and now used as a method for Romans to be singled out for targeting. It is this extra infusion of a sense of modernity that elevate Saylor’s novels from the realm of comfort into the category of great historical mysteries.

Steven Saylor will be speaking and signing Wrath of the Furies on Tuesday, November 3rd. BookPeople events are free and open to the public. You can find copies of Saylor’s latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

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