It is AD 81. The Roman emperor Domitian seizes power. Afflicted by classic paranoia, the self-styled Master and God sees enemies everywhere - and he is right. The Senate loathes him, his advisers are terrified, he cannot trust his wife, and barbarians menace the frontiers. As he vents his suspicions, no one is safe.
Gaius Vinius Clodianus survives physical and mental scars to reach high rank in the Praetorian Guard. Flavia Lucilla tends the privileged women at court; when Domitian's inherited talent unravels into madness, she loses her patron cruelly. In the haven of their shared apartment, Gaius and Lucilla find solace together, yearning for normality while living in a Reign of Terror.
Moves against Domitian are begun by his own household. Lucilla has to watch Gaius choose between love for her and risking death; between his sworn duty to protect the emperor and killing Domitian for the good of Rome. The plot careers close to exposure. Rome teeters on the brink of its Golden Age. A group of unlikely conspirators must now act with decency and courage, whatever the personal cost.
Master and God is the epic story of a despot whose contemporaries wrote him out of history. Told in Lindsey Davis' sardonic style, it is an intimate portrait of resilience, friendship, and love.
©2012 Lindsey Davis (P)2012 Hodder & Stoughton
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Think "I Claudius" merged with "Much Ado About Nothing", mix it with Davis's excellent writing style and sprinkle with the reality of historic first century Rome and you will be some way to appreciating what a superb novel this is.
The basis of this novel, as the title suggests, is the reign of Domitian, not one of Rome's better emperors. It opens in the aftermath of the eruption of Vesuvius and takes us on a journey of almost twenty years. In Davis's usual way, real historical characters are entwined with those of her rather idiosyncratic imagination. The main protagonists are neither hero nor anti-hero, but beautifully crafted flawed human beings doing their best to get by in a Rome in the grip of an increasingly insane emperor.
The use of two narrators, which can sometimes grate on the ear, works extremely well and the delivery adds depth to the characters.
This novel will be an instant hit with those who are already fans of Davis's books. For anybody who has not yet come across her work, I would seriously suggest that they give this novel a chance. I can guarantee that nobody will regret their choice and will come back to this book again and again.
"Master of None"
I will assume that this is the result of thorough research but it comes across as neither an historical document nor a novel. It is tedious and so frustrating, long minutes passed and I wondered, "Why am I listening to this, where is it going?".
I have noticed other, kinder reviews. I respect other viewpoints, I can only say that I don't share them and suggest that readers of this tread carefully. I felt I had wasted my time and money.
I always enjoy Lindsey Davis and look forward to another in her Falco series. This, however, is another of her standalone novels.
It is set in the time of Domitian, one of the emperors it was extremely unfortunate and highly dangerous to work for. One of his Praetorian guard is a major character, Gaius Vinius, as is Flavia Lucilla, an imperial hairdresser! They meet at the time of one of the great fires that devastated Rome, and their relationship developes over the years, despite Gaius' series of disastrous marriages. They see Domitian's increasing paranoia and are faced with the opportunity to do something about it.
The narration is in two voices which works very well.
"vintage Lindsey Davis"
I always love Ms.Davis books whether its Falco or Civil War (which I really admired). Although I warmed to the characters I was disappointed in the title as it had little to do with Domitian overall. And what was the fly chapter all about?
But thats only a small grumble. I really liked the dual narration - it worked well for me.
"A departure from the Falco character..."
but a good read nonetheless. Convuluted, with the usual twists and turns Lindsay Davis is so good at writing into her novels but in the end, this is a love story and Romeo does get his Juliet. I love that Lindsay makes her women capable and feisty. What I found difficult to listen to though was the narrator's voice used for the main female character.. that grated on me somewhat. On the whole a book worth listening to or for reading.
When I read on LD's website that the audio book was "not dramatised formally: all the text is there, but it is something special", I must admit I thought the worst!
The novel is wonderful and the audio book is pretty special too. I am not going to précis the novel here – there is no need. If you enjoy a good story well told then you will love this. The two central characters are totally believable; they are flawed and damaged by life, but despite this they are just so amiable. You will be totally caught-up in the sweeping storyline; right up to the very end!
This is my first Lindsey Davis novel and after so many 4 and 5 star reviews I was expecting more. This is a really thin book. It is superficial in its characterisation, lacks subtlety and has a lumbering plot interrupted by bits of potted Roman history which are like extracts from an old fashioned history text book for children. The writing is predictable and the images cliched. Without the male reader, who is excellent, I don't think I'd have managed to the end; the female reader is thoroughly irritating. If you want stories about ancient Rome, Robert Harris is much better.
This was a very interesting and unusual way of telling the history of the Roman Emperor Domitian. I enjoyed it very much.
While I found the story gave an insight into life in Domitian's Rome, The use of two narrators, each swapping at unlikely times very irritating indeed.
That and also too long...
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