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Melvyn Lloyd

Emperor for Rome, An
Pentland Press


This is a short and, I suspect first novel. The suspicion is based on the slow pace of the first chapters. Names abound without great substance. Romance, best omitted unless the author can convince, has an unreality, appearing to be included for the sake of it. One female 'prattles lightly', another is lustful and treacherous, a third not a decorous Roman maiden. An amusing altercation between Senator Licinius, his son Marcus and a stranger, Cornelius Laco, is delightful, marking the first chapter. Not surprisingly, Laco appears later, seething with hatred and malice. Nero is returning to Rome from Greece in triumph, less popular than he likes to think; there are many who plan not merely his downfall but his assassination. He falls; commits suicide in desperation. Thus the scene is set for the inevitable power struggle. The author has read widely and apart from a plethora of would-be emperors, there are changes of scene, 'introducing' the reader to a less popularised era. As the action accelerates, so the writing style matures, becomes more sure, more interesting. The young hero, Dion, a Greek freedman, conducts himself well at all times, earning gratitude and prosperity via his former master, Senator Licinius. Movement is hectic, with treachery and ambition arising in Spain, Germany and Judea. The climax of the novel coincides with a major crisis, but the story ends rather abruptly, which amazed me after so much earlier detail. There must surely be a sequel? - Kay Sylvester From The Historical Novel Review (May 1999), published by the Historical Novel Society.

- Kay Sylvester, 12/2/2005

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