Lindsey Davis’ Master and God is a vastly entertaining historical novel set in the reign of the Emperor Domitian in first-century Rome. It is on the one hand a love story between Gaius Vinius Clodianus, a valiant but reluctant member of the Praetorian Guard, whose military career is as successful as his marital history is disastrous, and Flavia Lucilla, daughter of a freed slave and hairdresser to the ladies of the imperial household. A devastating fire in Rome brings them together as apartment-mates whose relationship survives separation and the apparent death of Gaius, evolving into a bond of real passion and understanding.
It is also the story of the seizure of power by the Emperor Domitian, his increasing paranoia and madness as he styles himself Master and God. As Domitian’s cruelties to his enemies and those he only thinks are enemies grows, the future of Rome demands desperate measures, measures that demand Gaius choose between his sworn duty to protect the Emperor becoming part of the forces arrayed against him.
©2012 Lindsey Davis (P)2012 AudioGO
Davis' concept of a wise-cracking, Raymond Chandleresque equivalent in ancient Rome, Didius Falco, was, at the time he first appeared, a new approach to the mystery novel and much praised. But Davis herself has never been an outstanding author, and there are now better authors in the genre [such as Ruth Downie]. Indeed, her later Falco novels weren't particularly good. But this novel is definitely more mediocre than her previous efforts. It is rather a "Everyday Life in Imperial Rome" with large dollops of history, social and political, and an awkward love story inserted at intervals.
Falco succeeded in large part by being in the first person; this book is in the third, and that makes the narrative sections somewhat slow going, not helped by Robin Sachs' attempt at being laconic -- which comes across as monotonous and soporific.
In short, this is overwritten, and not particularly interesting, and read rather than performed. I'd recommend Downie's "Medicus" series instead.
I think this would have been better received by me if the reader didn't drone on so. Good subject matter, but it doesn't hold my attention.
I loved the view into the "real" life in ancient Rome. Most books deal with life as an aristocrat. You never think about how the hairdressers and beat-cops live.
Master and God is very similar to Davis' incomparable "The Course of Honour" - it's both a history and a love story. Both couples ended with the long-term best type of companionship. But the road there was rocky - and the political situation added materially to the bumpy path.
I haven't listened to any of Sachs' other recordings. This one was calm. Very, very, VERY calm. He almost spoke in a monotone - but looking back, he nailed every voice perfectly. And, that calm mirrored the attitudes of the two main characters. Nicely done!
I don't think I'd go out drinking with any of the characters here. Most of Davis' other books have individuals who interest me - but no one here really catches my interest and sympathy. I admire and am interested in them, but am happy to do so from a distance.
This is a long book with a lot of history. As with all of Davis' books, I keep nipping out to check maps, look at the history of some of the characters, and find out more about food and implements and activities she mentions. This is my cup of tea. The book is filled with a lot of political stress. Sachs' even narration kept it from becoming too fraught.
If you don't enjoy the finer points of history, this may not be for you – it is intensely informative and obviously the author is a scholar of the period. That said, it is also a very involving tale of compelling and fully fleshed characters, most especially a praetorian soldier and a freedwoman hairdresser who come together after many years acquaintance, just at the time of the emperor Domitian's worst excesses. Davis is a master of clever dialogue, and I laughed out loud a number of times. The thing about her books that always fascinates me is the inescapable parallels between societal norms in the era she writes about and those of the 20th and 21st centuries. That and her ability to relate a sequence of historical events but illuminated by the very human strengths and weaknesses possessed by the chief players. Great stuff, really enjoyed it.
I love Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius series and was looking forward to this book, but it was so boring I kept falling asleep. I don't know if the bood was boring or the reader, but it seemed to take forever to finish. I suspect the fault lies with Robin Sachs, because I like her other books so much.
I'm listening to Creole Belle by James Lee Burke.
Not speak in a monotone!!!!!
I'm not sure I would cut anything, except the reader. Why would she change readers?
Why would an author change from a good reader?
Historians Or those who like The Fall of Pompeii, written in 1800 something.
Only the Marcus Didius series or something that many, many reviews recommend.
The writing was so bad, I don't think any narrator could have helped this story.
I would make the writer rewrite the entire book. I know Lindsey Davis can do better.
Disappointing. This could've been a great epic. I wanted to love it, I couldn't even like it. Plus, I second the other review that says this was BORING. But it was written more like history than good entertaining fiction. The love story was flat, as it was told like a third (or even fourth) person biography. (She did this, she felt that, then he went here and he did that and he felt that...).The emperor's story was told like it was a documentary on his reign, in third person, once removed. I know this writer can write great fiction, I can only hope that this is not a trend for future books. I kept waiting for it to get better. I invested so many hours, and hours and hours to it. I finally gave up 1/4 from the end, as I lost interest and hope. Not sure how it ended, don't really care.
This book transported me to Flavian Rome. I love well researched historical novels and Lindsey Davis never disappoints. Hairstyles, clothing, food, laws and customs are just a few of the topics she uses to paint a vivid picture of life at that time.
Robert Harris's Pompeii comes to mind. It takes place around the same time in history and also made me feel I was there in Pompeii.
I think he did a competent job. This is not a Falco novel. I think I expected to hear his witty, sarcastic voice at first. When I got into the story I began to enjoy the reader.
Dirty, sexy politics... Did you think Nixon and Clinton invented it?
If you are looking for a historical romance this is not the book for you.
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