SPQR I: The King's Gambit Audiobook | John Maddox Roberts | Audible.com
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SPQR I: The King's Gambit | [John Maddox Roberts]

SPQR I: The King's Gambit

John Maddox Roberts takes listeners back to a Rome filled with violence and evil. Vicious gangs ruled the streets of Crassus and Pompey, routinely preying on plebeian and patrician alike. So the garroting of a lowly ex-slave and the disembowelment of a foreign merchant in the dangerous Subura district seemed of little consequence to the Roman hierarchy.
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Publisher's Summary

In this Edgar Award-nominated mystery, John Maddox Roberts takes listeners back to a Rome filled with violence and evil. Vicious gangs ruled the streets of Crassus and Pompey, routinely preying on plebeian and patrician alike. So the garroting of a lowly ex-slave and the disembowelment of a foreign merchant in the dangerous Subura district seemed of little consequence to the Roman hierarchy.

But Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger, highborn commander of the local vigiles, was determined to investigate. Despite official apathy, brazen bribes, and sinister threats, Decius uncovers a world of corruption at the highest levels of his government that threatens to destroy him and the government he serves.

©1990 John Maddox Roberts; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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4.0 (207 )
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3.9 (153 )
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  •  
    Michael Sun City, AZ, United States 12-29-08
    Michael Sun City, AZ, United States 12-29-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pleasant suprise"

    Too tell the truth I got this book because I'm a big Lindsey Davis fan (the Falco Mystery Series), and felt I needed a "Roman" fix!
    I really didn't know what to expect, just hope it was good. And, it was! The author John Maddox did his homework and this book is full of the flavor, smells, life, corruption, etc., that was Rome. So if you want a quick read (listen) of a well crafted detective story then get this book. I'm looking forward to other books in this series.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 08-07-12
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 08-07-12 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hoc Est Totaliter Rrigus! Totally Frigus!"

    Captivating... Mesmerizing... The performance is perfect. It's a history romp... NO! It's a murder mystery. NO! It's a police procedural. Well it's all of those things and it's also whimsical, insightful, even a dose of political theory. Buy it... Listen... Luvvit! I'm off to find the next in this ancient Roman series.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abigail arlington, VA, United States 11-05-11
    Abigail arlington, VA, United States 11-05-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    142
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    "Love these! Need more!"

    Ok these aren't highbrow literature or anything but the story and the history are highly enjoyable. It's a great slice of Rome at the beginning of it's most famous historical events. Great road trip listening and about a pg13 rating (no excessive bad language or graphic rape scenes, etc.). I tend to mention this because after listening to pillars of the earth I learned how much more noticeable this stuff is in audio format (my BF kept walking in at highly graphic points which was highly embarrassing as well) The history in this is much better than many series that take place in ancient rome, without sounding in any way educational. It likely is educational but you dont notice. Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators and I think just perfect for this book. I love him as the main character. I'm mostly through the 2nd book now and crave more!

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 07-01-13
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 07-01-13 Member Since 2006

    i'm listening

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "excellent historical fiction"

    Roman historical fiction can be risky - some of the authors who enjoy writing this period focus on hours long descriptions of torture and pain and violence, and much of it sexual. That's not what I like.
    I like the politics and the social history, the rituals and the food. That, my friends, is what we have here. The mystery gives the story a form and is engaging, but this is more historical fiction and in my opinion, best in class since Colleen Mccullough. And if you know those books this is even more fun because it offers another perspective on the same events.

    I dunno if I want to get the rest of the books though. I love simon vance - he is always always great, but the narrator change is not one that I care for

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Florence, MA, United States 12-28-11
    John Florence, MA, United States 12-28-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic"

    I've read all of Lindsey Davis' books (Marcus Didius Falco) and followed every one of Gordianus the Finder's investigations (Steven Saylor) so I'm no slouch when it comes to great, authentic, ancient Rome detective novels. Mr. Roberts develops the characters in a way that gives them depth and individual voices. I found that I really cared about what happened to them. He paints a wonderful picture of the expanse of Rome but also the danger and political doings that was ancient Rome. I must say that Simon Vance was superb as the narrator. He read naturally and imparted emotion to the characters and helped add to the events and story line.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA, United States 03-27-13
    M HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2013

    history fan, curious to a fault

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great mystery set in the time of ceaser"
    What made the experience of listening to SPQR I the most enjoyable?

    A tale of intrigue and conspiracy set during the fall of the roman republic. Great characters and historical figures. You are able to keep up with the various titles and hierarchies our lead comes into contact with while gaining an insight into the roman world at the time. Very well narrated and enjoyable overall.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listened to this over two days.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 06-23-11
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 06-23-11 Member Since 2001

    BJS

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you enjoy historical novels......."

    Not Robert Graves, how ever I did enjoy the mystery and the the time line of the story was well studied by the author. (If anyone saw the "Spartacus" series on "Stars" the brutality and total disregard for humanity by those in power) "Ultimate power corrupts ultimately." readers should be prepared for some intense sexuality, brutality, and total disregard for life. However our hero, is a strong personality and tries to over come much of what his station demands of him, and what the higher up in Roman power structure demand. He is a man of conscious, which is very rare in this time. I enjoyed this book enough to get SPQR II.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 02-04-12
    Marie ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 02-04-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Maybe better read than in audio"

    Having finished Ruth Downie's mystery series of books about a doctor in Roman Britian, I started the SPQR series in great anticipation. I was excited because Simon Vance was the narrator and he had also narrated Downie's books. I was looking for something with a bit more detail about Roman life and more setting details. I was disappointed. Not because this book didn't provide what I was looking for in terms of detail but because it provided so much detail and back story that there was little new story. At only 7 1/2 hours, way to much of the time was spent by the author on having to explain the intricacies of the government, military and judicial aspects of the Roman system. During the book, the protagonist interacts with or discusses every single prominent Roman of the day, often as a means of explaining a brief happening. The names and the politial allegiance began to run together, and by the end, I wasn't quite sure what was going on or why. Maybe if I had read the book so I could have flipped back and checked earlier narrative sections it would have been better. As it was, by the time the book ended, I really didn't care who did it. And I never connected with Metellus. If you are well versed in Roman history, this might be the book for you. If you are looking for a story that moves and entertains, go with Ruth Downie or Lindsey Davis.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 02-22-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 02-22-14 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A visit to ancient Rome"

    I have read a few books on ancient Rome recently and came across this Edgar nominated mysteries by John Maddox Roberts. He is a new author to me but I understand he is a well known Sci-Fi writer. The book takes place in about 70 B.C.E. and follows Decius Caecilius Metellus the younger, who is a patrician and former soldier how is now a low ranking official in the commission of Twenty Six (sort of policeman). The garroting of a manumitted gladiator, a foreign merchant and a wealthy freedman all in a short time in his district has Decius investigation the murders. He uncovers a conspiracy by Publius Claudius Putcher. Roberts is using a first-person narration. Robert does spend a lot of time in forming us of the history of wars and Roman politics of the time. The author also relays Roman customs of daily life and religious life into the story. Decius’s consultation with Cicero was well done in providing background information but disguised as advice. Lots of famous people in the book such as, Cicero, Pompey and Crassus as the dual consuls, Roman General Lucullus commander in Asia, and also Prince Tigranes of Armenia, brings history to life. The story provides a murder mystery along with a bit of history of ancient Roman and information into the daily life of a Roman. Makes for a fun read with a bit of education along the way. Simon Vance did his usual excellent job narrating the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pierre-luc Arnprior, ON, Canada 06-06-12
    pierre-luc Arnprior, ON, Canada 06-06-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
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    "Solid mystery set in Ancient Rome"
    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    No, not to that extent, but it was interesting. The pace was slow, but not boring.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to the book around a holiday in Rome, and I enjoyed combining pleasure with some education, since the author seemed to have done a good amount of research on the period, and he peppered the story with explanations and historical colour, without weighing down the narrative unpleasantly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Rogayah
    Reading, United Kingdom
    11/27/08
    Overall
    "A true Roman"

    This was an exciting introduction to this series. It was enjoyable to learn more about Roman and the Republic before the take over by Julius Ceasar and the like. It was not a nice place but John Maddox Roberts brings the story, the time and the place alive.

    I shall look out for more from this author who has made a piece of Roman history entertaining and enjoyable. A real treat. A good narrator too.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Bibliophile
    Cumbria
    4/18/11
    Overall
    "Welcome to another Roman"

    There seems to be endless interest in the Roman Empire, but Roberts is a welcome addition to the field. His hero is rather similar to that of Lindsey Davis and others, but quite sympathetic, and Roberts has a nice eye for what was happening in Rome, bringing in some of the important characters as the bit parts they would have been at the time.
    Simon Vance reads the character well and it is good to know that there is at least one more to carry on what I hope will be a long series

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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