By David Barbaree
Zaffre Publishing, May 2017
About the Book
More gripping than Game of Thrones and more ruthless than House of Cards—this a stunning new thriller of power, treachery and revenge.
In a darkened cell, a brutally deposed dictator lies crippled—deprived of his power, his freedom—and his eyes. On the edge of utter despair, his only companion is the young boy who brings him his meagre rations, a mere child who fears his own shadow. But to one who has held and lost the highest power, one thing alone is crystal clear: Even emperors were mere children once.
Ten years later, the new ruler’s son watches uneasily over his father’s empire. Wherever he looks rebellion is festering, and those closest to him have turned traitor once before. To this city in crisis comes a hugely wealthy senator from the very edge of the empire, a young and angry ward at his heels. He is witty but inscrutable, generous with his time and money to a leader in desperate need of a friend—and he wears a bandage over his blinded eyes.
The fallen emperor’s name is Nero. But this isn’t his story.
I really enjoyed this book. I found the wit and innuendos used by the author added another layer of depth to the characterization of Nero and the story overall. It contained a lot of intrigue as well as historical facts. The time period skipped around so on occasion I had to flip back and check which decade I was reading about. But that didn’t take away from the story. It also alternated points of view depending on which character’s perspective you were in at the time. I appreciated the author making that clear at the beginning of each segment.
The style of writing was very readable, but not overly simple. The author has a way with words and with dialog that makes you forget at times that you are reading. I ended up kind of liking Nero’s character by the story’s end. That was not something I expected to happen. Nero changed a lot because of his humble circumstances and figured out that what is most important in life is the people you care about and the legacy you leave behind. His relationship with Marcus changed him into a softer-hearted man because over time he became a father figure to Marcus.
I liked how the characters were the same historical characters as in several other books I’ve read about ancient Rome (by Kate Quinn.) The details came back to me as I read, and it felt like I was spending time with old friends. The cultish part of the story (regarding the “dark arts” practiced by the Germanic people) was sick, yet fascinating. I have read about some of these barbaric practices in other books so I know the cult did exist. I can’t begin to imagine the horror of watching human sacrifices to the pagan god.
I read this book pretty quickly. Normally I don’t plow through a story like I did with this one, but I kept finding myself wanting to pick it up and find out what happens next. Deposed contained intrigue and brutality that were coupled with the politics of the time period. I loved how Nero managed to work his way back into the lives of some of the very people who sought to depose/kill him in the first place. The fact that he was a cripple due to blindness made him virtually unrecognizable to many.
For lovers of ancient Roman history, this book is for you. I just ignored some of the words that didn’t fit the time period (like some f-bombs) as they managed to pull me out of the setting. Other than that small criticism, this book exceeded my expectations. It doesn’t read like a debut novel. I would read another book by this author.
Michelle Sutton author - Healing Hearts