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This is the second book I have read by this author. Although it is an investment of time due to its length, it is well worth it. As truth is often stranger than fiction, Maier does more than simply write historical fiction. He writes what he calls a Documentary Novel, which is more fact than fiction. All persons named are historical ; no proper name is invented. Fiction is used only for dialogue and fleshing out subplot. He does a great job at this. He draws you into life in Rome under Claudius and then Nero, by focusing on the family of the mayor of Rome. The accounts of palace intrigue, poisonings, attempted assassinations, public executions, the growth of the infant Christian church through the persecutions under Nero are all told. Even his end notes are interesting, telling you about his sources for the events he portrayed, and explaining any discrepancies or varying viewpoints. Having been in Rome this month, and seeing the Palatine and Circus Maximus and other places mentioned in the book I was reading while there, made it even more interesting to me.
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