In this colourful exploration of ancient Roman society and politics, eighteen year old Gordianus sets out with his elderly tutor, (the poet Antipater) to tour the seven wonders of the world. The book is structured as a series of short stories, and in each city young Gordianus explores one of the seven wonders, solves a local mystery, and has sex with one of his new acquaintances. The lives and customs of early Romans are brought to life in an engaging way and the descriptions of the seven ancient wonders will impress even the modern reader.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Saylor covers a lot of factual material in an entertaining way, however the book is extremely formulaic. The characters seem light-weight and their actions slightly cartoonish. This novel is a prequel to a mystery series featuring an older and wiser Gordianus, and perhaps the author assumed that his readers would already be quite familiar with his hero. Despite this flaw, the author does a great job of bringing the customs of the ancient world to life, and his research is impressive. The many details and descriptions create a strong sense of place and time.