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★★★★★

“The Princess and the Pirates ”

written by Harriet Klausner on 10/05/2005

The Princess and the Pirates
John Maddox Roberts
Dunne, July 2005, $22.95, 188 pp.
ISBN 031233723X

In the year 703 Rome, Decius Metellus wants to know why after serving two years as an aedile during which his popularity rose to unprecedented heights because he did so much good works, he can't be elected predator. The answer is simple: Politics. The Metellus family has different candidates they want to run for office this year and they think Decius needs more seasoning in the military arena.

Rome has recently annexed Cyprus from Egypt resulting in a resurgence of piracy in the area. Decius is sent there to break up their operation but when he arrives he finds a teenage Cleopatra there who gladly lends her vessel to his three ship armada. Although he is not certain he can trust the princess, he accepts her help and once he starts investigating, he realize there is a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the Cyprian government. Trapping and catching the conspirators will prove to be the most difficult assignment of his life.

John Maddox Roberts has the gift to describe a bygone era so perfectly that readers actually believe they are there. The author keeps his series fresh by constantly changing the location from Rome so although the protagonist remains the same, the far flung Roman Empire is described in exquisite meticulously researched detail. As usual, SPQR IX is a vivid and well designed historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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