Book Review: The Throne of Caesar

The Throne of Caesar
(Novels of Ancient Rome #16)
Published By: Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  February, 20, 2018
Page Count: 400
Buy it at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or IndieBound
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher
Historical Fiction — Murder Mystery

Gordianus, also known by reputation as The Finder, has at last accumulated enough wealth to be raised to the rank of Equestrian and to retire.  But as with all most fictional detectives about to retire, there is one last case.  Cicero engages Gordianus's services to find out whether there is a plot against the life of Julius Caesar who has recently been elevated to the status of dictator for life.  Later that morning, Caesar himself requests Gordianus to look into a list of men he suspects may be conspiring against him.

Having been interested in the classical world since I first learned about it in middle school, I was practically compelled to review The Throne of Caesar, by Steven Saylor.  And, of course, (nerd alert!) publish said review on the infamous Ides of March.  I also admit that it never occurred to me that ancient historical fiction could also be a murder mystery, but I am happily surprised to find that it is a thing — a thing that has sustained author Steven Saylor over more than a dozen novels.

Reading The Throne of Caesar is like opening a portal to the past and stepping into history.  I could say that Saylor paints a vivid picture of the life and workings of ancient Rome, but that would be an injustice.  His writing absolutely transported me from suburban America and plonked me down in the bustling streets of the Eternal City, with its seedy tavernas, and endless sights and smells.  When Gordianus visits Caesar's villa outside the city, I felt like I was tagging along with him through the lush gardens and seated next to him at their sumptuous dinner.

As Gordianus investigates, another mystery crops up surrounding the poet Gaius Helvius Cinna who awakens one morning to find the warning "Beware" scrawled in Greek outside the door of his home.  Saylor frequently engages with poetry, particularly Cinna's, and weaves it throughout the novel.  Poetry infuses the characters' interactions with each other and their lives in general.

The challenge with a novel like The Throne of Caesar is that everyone who's ever cracked a history book knows who killed Julius Caesar.  That Saylor manages to hold the tension of the novel up to that point is a testament to his skill as a writer (or laurel wreath if you will).  The one drawback of this novel for me is that the feeling of edge-of-your-seat tension evaporated between the murder of Caesar and the second murder of the book.

I jumped into this series at the end, and was able to follow the story perfectly well, despite missing whatever inside information that readers accrue over the life of a series.  I am excited to go back and start this lengthy series of books at the beginning!


Julius Caesar has been appointed dictator for life by the Roman Senate. Having pardoned his remaining enemies and rewarded his friends, Caesar is now preparing to leave Rome with his army to fight the Parthian Empire.

Gordianus the Finder, after decades of investigating crimes and murders involving the powerful, has set aside enough that he’s been raised to the Equestrian rank and has firmly and finally retired. On the morning of March 10th, though, he’s first summoned to meet with Cicero and then with Caesar himself. Both have the same request of Gordianus―keep your ear to the ground, ask around, and find out if there are any conspiracies against Caesar’s life. Caesar, however, has one other important matter to discuss. Gordianus’s adopted son Meto has long been one of Caesar’s closest confidants. To honor Meto, Caesar is going to make his father Gordianus a Senator when he attends the next session on the 15th of March.

With only four days left before he’s made a Senator, Gordianus must dust off his old skills and see what conspiracy against Julius Caesar, if any, he can uncover. Because the Ides of March are approaching...


  1. I love this period of history but have never read a book about it. Sounds riveting!
    I totally appreciate that you posted on March 15. :)


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