Empire: An Epic Novel of Ancient Rome

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9781849016025: Empire: An Epic Novel of Ancient Rome

In the international bestseller Roma, Steven Saylor told the story of the first thousand years of Rome by following the descendants of a single bloodline. Now, in Empire, Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the Pinarius family, from the reign of the first emperor, Augustus, to the glorious height of Rome's empire under Hadrian.Through the eyes of the Pinarii, we witness the machinations of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, the cruel escapades of Nero, and the chaos of the Year of Four Emperors in 69 A.D. The deadly paranoia of Domitian is followed by the Golden Age of Trajan and Hadrian-but even the most enlightened emperors wield the power to inflict death and destruction on a whim.Empire is strewn with spectacular scenes, including the Great Fire of 64 A.D. that ravaged the city, Nero's terrifying persecution of the Christians, and the mind-blowing opening games of the Colosseum. But at the novel's heart are the wrenching choices and seductive temptations faced by each new generation of the Pinarii. One unwittingly becomes the sexual plaything of the notorious Messalina. One enters into a clandestine affair with a Vestal virgin. One falls under the charismatic spell of Nero, while another is drawn into the strange new cult of those who deny the gods and call themselves Christians.However diverse their destinies and desires, all the Pinarii are united by one thing: the mysterious golden talisman called the fascinum handed down from a time before Rome existed. As it passes from generation to generation, the fascinum seems to exercise a power not only over those who wear it, but over the very fate of the empire.Praise for Steven Saylor:'Saylor expertly weaves the true history of Rome with the lives and loves of its fictional citizens.' Daily Express'Saylor's scholarship is breathtaking and his writing enthrals' Ruth Rendell'With the scalpel-like deftness of a Hollywood director, Saylor puts his finger on the very essence of Roman history.' Times Literary Supplement'Readers will find his work wonderfully (and gracefully) researched... this is entertainment of the first order.' Washington Post

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About the Author:

Steven Saylor is the author of the popular and acclaimed historical mystery novels set in ancient Rome, the Roma sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder. His work has been widely praised for its remarkable accuracy and vivid historical detail as well as for its passion, mystery and intrigue. Steven divides his time between Berkley, California and Austin, Texas.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PART I
LUCIUS
The Lightning Reader
A.D. 14
Lucius woke with a start.
He had been dreaming. In his dream there was no earth, only a dark, empty sky, and beyond the sky, unimaginably vast, the crystalline firmament in which the stars shone brightly. No clouds obscured the stars, and yet there was lightning in the dream, lightning without thunder, random flashes of blinding light that illuminated great flocks of birds that suddenly filled the dark sky. There were vultures and eagles, ravens and crows, every sort of bird imaginable, soaring and flapping their wings, yet making no more sound than the silent lightning. The dream had filled him with a sense of urgency and confusion.
Awake now, Lucius heard a faint rumble of thunder in the distance.
He heard other sounds from elsewhere in the house. The slaves were up and beginning to stir, stoking the kitchen fire and opening shutters.
Lucius jumped from his bed. His room, with a small balcony looking west, was on the upper floor of the house. Below him was the slope of the Aventine Hill. The nearer houses, along the crest of the hill, were large and well made, like his family’s house. Farther down the hill, humbler houses and tenements and artisans’ workshops were crowded close together, and farther yet was a flat expanse with large granaries and ware houses close to the Tiber. At the river the city ended. On the far side of the Tiber, woods and meadows were divided into the private estates of the rich, which extended to the far horizon of hills and mountains.
How his mother hated this view! Born into a wealthy branch of the Cornelius family, she had grown up in a house on the other, more fashionable side of the Aventine Hill, with a view of the vast Circus Maximus below, the Capitoline Hill crowned by temples off to one side, and, directly opposite, the opulent Palatine Hill, where the emperor lived. “Why, from our rooftop, when I was a girl,” she would say, “I could see the smoke from sacrifices on the Capitoline, watch the chariot races below, and even catch a glimpse of the emperor himself, strolling on one of his terraces across the way.” (“All at the same time, Camilla?” Lucius’s father would say, gently mocking her.) But this was the view Lucius had grown up with. For twenty-four years this had been the Roma seen from his room, a jumble of the rich and poor—mostly the poor—where slaves labored endlessly in vast store houses to accommodate all the goods and grain that arrived day after day, carried up the river from the great world beyond, the world that belonged to Roma.
The month of Maius had been overcast and rainy so far, and this day promised to be no different. By the dim light of dawn beneath an overcast sky, Lucius saw the towering cypress trees along the Tiber sway this way and that. The blustering winds were warm and carried the smell of rain. In the far distance, black storm clouds roiled on the horizon, bristling with lighting.
“Perfect weather for an augury!” whispered Lucius.
His room was sparsely furnished with a narrow bed and a single backless chair, a small pigeonhole bookcase filled with scrolls left over from his childhood education, a mirror on a stand made of burnished copper, and a few trunks to accommodate his clothing. He opened the most ornate of the trunks and carefully removed the special garment it contained.
Ordinarily, he would have waited for a slave to help him dress—arranging the folds correctly was a complicated task—but Lucius could not wait. The garment was not simply a toga, such as the one he had put on when he became a man at the age of seventeen. It was a trabea, the special garment worn only by augurs, the members of the ancient priesthood trained to divine the will of the gods. It was not white but saffron with broad purple stripes. Except for the fitting, when the tailor had made it for him, this was the first time Lucius had even touched the trabea. The never-worn wool was soft and thick and had a fresh smell of murex dye.
He put on the garment and did his best to pull the hanging folds into a proper arrangement. He glanced at himself in the copper mirror, then reached into the trunk again. He picked up a slender ivory wand that ended in a little spiral. The lituus was a family heirloom and a familiar friend; Lucius had spent countless hours practicing with it in preparation for this day. But now he looked at the lituus with fresh eyes, studying the intricate carvings that decorated every part of its surface with images of ravens, crows, owls, eagles, vultures, and chickens, as well as foxes, wolves, horses, and dogs—all the various creatures from whose actions a trained augur could interpret the will of the gods.
He left his room and descended the stairs, crossed the garden surrounded by a peristyle at the center of the house, and stepped into the dining room, where his mother and father reclinined together on a couch while a slave served their breakfast.
His mother was wearing a simple stola, with her long hair not yet combed and pinned for the day. She leaped up from her couch. “Lucius! What are you doing dressed in your trabea already? You can’t eat breakfast wearing that! What if you get food on it? The ceremony is hours away. We’ll be going to the baths first. The barber must shave you and your father—”
Lucius laughed. “Mother, I did it on a whim. Of course I won’t wear it to breakfast. But what do you think?”
Camilla sighed. “You look splendid, Lucius. Absolutely splendid! As handsome as ever your father was in his trabea. Don’t you think so, dear?”
Lucius’s father, who strove always to maintain the restraint proper to a man of his standing—a patrician, a senator, and a cousin of the emperor—merely nodded. “Handsome our boy certainly is. But looking pretty is not the point when a man puts on his trabea. A priest must carry his garment as he carries his lituus, with dignity and authority, as befits the intermediary of the gods.”
Lucius drew back his shoulders, raised his chin, and held forth his lituus. “What do you think, father? Do I look properly dignified?”
The elder Lucius Pinarius looked at his son and raised an eyebrow. To him, young Lucius often still looked like a boy, and never more so than at this moment, dressed up in priestly finery but with the folds of his trabea tucked and draped haphazardly, like a child in grown-up costume. Twenty-four was very young for a man to be inducted into the college of augurs. The elder Pinarius had been in his forties before the honor came to him. With his black hair mussed from sleeping, his broad smile, and his smoothly handsome features, young Lucius hardly fit the standard image of the wrinkled, gray-haired augur. Still, the young man came from a long line of augurs, and he had shown great aptitude in his studies.
“You look very fine, my son. Now, go change into a nice tunic. We shall have a bite to eat, then be off to the baths for a wash and a shave, then hurry back home to get ready for the ceremony. Hopefully, the storm will hold off and we won’t be drenched with rain.”
Having a slave arrange the trabea certainly made a difference, Lucius had to admit, as he studied himself in the copper mirror later that day. The sight of himself freshly groomed and properly outfitted in his trabea filled him with confidence. Of course, he was not an augur quite yet. Preceding the induction ceremony there would be a final examination in which Lucius would be called upon to demonstrate his skills. Lucius frowned. He was a little nervous about the examination.
This time, when he descended from his room, his mother almost swooned at the sight of him. His father, now dressed in his own trabea and carrying his own lituus, gave him a warm smile of approval.
“Shall we be off, father?”
“Not quite yet. You have a visitor.”
Across the garden, a young man and a girl were seated on a bench beneath the peristyle.
“Acilia!” Lucius began to run to her, then slowed his pace. A trabea was not made for running, and it would not do to catch the soft wool on a thorn as he passed the rose bushes.
Acilia’s older brother rose to his feet, nodded curtly, and discreetly withdrew. Looking over his shoulder, Lucius saw that his parents had also disappeared, to allow him a moment of privacy with his betrothed.
Lucius took her hands in his. “Acilia, you look beautiful today.” It was true. Her honey-colored hair was worn long and straight, as befitted an unmarried girl. Her eyes were bright blue. Her cheeks were as smooth as rose petals. Her petite body was largely hidden by her modest, long-sleeved tunica, but during the year that they had been betrothed she had definitely begun to acquire the contours of a woman’s body. She was ten years younger than Lucius.
“Look at you, Lucius—so handsome in your trabea!”
“That’s what my mother said.” As they strolled across the garden, he suddenly felt self-conscious about their surroundings. Lucius was acutely aware that the house of Acilia’s father was far grander than that of the Pinarii, more lavishly furnished, tended by more house hold slaves, and located on the more fashionable side of the Aventine Hill, near the Temple of Diana. The Acilii were plebeians, descended from a family far less ancient than the patrician Pinarii, but the Acilii had a great deal of money, while the fortunes of the Pinarii had dwindled in recent years. Lucius’s late grandfather had owned a fine mansion on the Palatine, but his debts had forced the family to move to their current accommodations. To be sure, the vestibule of their house contained the wax masks of many venerable ancestors, but that was not the sort of thing to impress a girl. Had Acilia noticed how overgrown and untended the garden was? Lucius remembered the perfectly trimmed hedges and topiaries, the marble walkways and expe...

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Descripción Little, Brown Book Group. Paperback. Estado de conservación: new. BRAND NEW, Empire: An Epic Novel of Ancient Rome, Steven Saylor, In the international bestseller Roma, Steven Saylor told the story of the first thousand years of Rome by following the descendants of a single bloodline. Now, in Empire, Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the Pinarius family, from the reign of the first emperor, Augustus, to the glorious height of Rome's empire under Hadrian. Through the eyes of the Pinarii, we witness the machinations of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, the cruel escapades of Nero, and the chaos of the Year of Four Emperors in 69 A.D. The deadly paranoia of Domitian is followed by the Golden Age of Trajan and Hadrian-but even the most enlightened emperors wield the power to inflict death and destruction on a whim. Empire is strewn with spectacular scenes, including the Great Fire of 64 A.D. that ravaged the city, Nero's terrifying persecution of the Christians, and the mind-blowing opening games of the Colosseum. But at the novel's heart are the wrenching choices and seductive temptations faced by each new generation of the Pinarii. One unwittingly becomes the sexual plaything of the notorious Messalina. One enters into a clandestine affair with a Vestal virgin. One falls under the charismatic spell of Nero, while another is drawn into the strange new cult of those who deny the gods and call themselves Christians. However diverse their destinies and desires, all the Pinarii are united by one thing: the mysterious golden talisman called the fascinum handed down from a time before Rome existed. As it passes from generation to generation, the fascinum seems to exercise a power not only over those who wear it, but over the very fate of the empire. Praise for Steven Saylor: 'Saylor expertly weaves the true history of Rome with the lives and loves of its fictional citizens.' Daily Express 'Saylor's scholarship is breathtaking and his writing enthrals' Ruth Rendell 'With the scalpel-like deftness of a Hollywood director, Saylor puts his finger on the very essence of Roman history.' Times Literary Supplement 'Readers will find his work wonderfully (and gracefully) researched.this is entertainment of the first order.' Washington Post. Nº de ref. de la librería B9781849016025

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Descripción Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Not Signed; In the international bestseller Roma, Steven Saylor told the story of the first thousand years of Rome by following the descendants of a single bloodline. Now, in Empire, Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the Pinarius family, from the reign of the first emperor, Augustus, to th. book. Nº de ref. de la librería ria9781849016025_rkm

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Descripción Corsair, 2011. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M184901602X

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