Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
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****Render Unto Caesar

by Gillian Bradshaw

Reviewed February 3, 2004.
Forge Books (Tom Doherty Associates), New York, 2003.  461 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F BRA).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #2, Historical Fiction

I love Gillian Bradshaw’s books.  Though The Sand-Reckoner and Imperial Purple are still my favorites, they all pull me in so that I don’t want to stop reading for anything.  I started this one the night before a day off, so I’m afraid I didn’t get anything done on that day off until I’d finished the book.

Render Unto Caesar is about Hermogenes, a Greek Alexandrian, who has come to Rome to collect a debt that he inherited from his uncle.  The debt ruined his uncle, and then his father died pursuing its collection, so he feels he has a score to settle with the Roman who incurred the debt.

Unfortunately, that Roman has just been made a consul.  He seems to feel himself above the law.  It’s not about money to Hermogenes.  As a Roman citizen, he doesn’t believe that anyone should be above justice, especially a consul who is supposed to uphold the law.  However, in his pursuit of justice he gets involved in plots and counterplots and finds his life in danger again and again.

Once again, Gillian Bradshaw writes the historical setting so you feel you know exactly what Rome of 16 B.C. was like.  The history and the intricate plot keep you reading, but first her wonderful, likeable characters draw you in.  Hermogenes is someone who treats people well and who wants to do what’s right.  The reader definitely wants him to find justice.  Along the way, he finds some romance as well.

There are some sordid details in the historical background that aren’t terribly pleasant, but you can’t help admiring how Hermogenes comes through it all.  This fascinating book teaches you history and gives you an absorbing plot and wonderful characters.  Definitely worth reading.

Reviews of other books by Gillian Bradshaw:
Imperial Purple
The Sand-Reckoner
The Wolf Hunt
Cleopatra's Heir
Dangerous Notes
The Wrong Reflection

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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