I'm over at my 'WRANGLERS' blog today discussing description v dialogue.
The topic is in response to have recently read the novel below. Here are my thoughts on reading it.
The life story of Gaius Antistius Vetus, unfolded in first person, is an interesting and absorbing read. There’s a wealth of historical detail in it about the life and times of first century AD and plenty to kick start the imagination about the provincial Roman Empire, though less for living in Rome itself. The fact that so many lives were directly affected, and in some cases cut short, by the whims of the current Roman Emperor is evident in what happens to Gaius and his family when Nero purges Rome, causing death and destruction to families. Danger and political intrigue are a continuing thread in the novel as Gaius grows older. Being a known friend of someone like Vespasian, who in his early career wasn’t the flavour of the month, was a dangerous choice to have made. I enjoyed the focus on Gaius’ friendship with the volatile Domitian, who was eventually not the best person to be friends with. The flow of descriptive passages was very well written, yet I’d have liked more dialogue. This, I feel, might have increased the pace in places and might have given more depth to the many characters, including Gaius himself. The situations of minor characters are well described, but their feelings don’t come across as clear to me. They have brief mentions but are well in the sidelines.