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Review: The King’s Gambit

John Maddox Roberts

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

The King's Gambit

The book “The King’s Gambit” by Mr. Maddox opens a promising series of historical novels in which the criminal theme is strongly present.

The author has done an almost titanic work, consisting in getting to know the political and social realities of the era of the decline of the Roman Republic (1st century BCE). The realities of everyday life of the ancient inhabitants of Rome are conveyed to us with photographic accuracy, not excluding the topography (and its evolution over time) of the Eternal City.

Admittedly, while reading this book, I caught Mr. Maddox on a factual error. It’s a shame that such an oversight could be found in such a carefully crafted book.

namely. In the dialogue between the main character Decius and the envoy of the Roman commander Lucullus, it is stated that Bithynia is the only province of Rome acquired by way of rewriting it by testament as a gift for the Senate and the Roman people by the dying ruler. This is not true. Bithynia was the third and last such acquisition in Roman history. The first was Pergamon, which was bequeathed to the Roman Senate and people by Attalus III in 133 BCE, the second was Cyrenaica bequeathed to Rome in 96 BCE by Ptolemy Apion, and the third was Bithynia, which was bequeathed to the Roman Republic in 74 BCE by Nicodemus IV and not III as in the novel. But in this case, I do not know whether the error in the numbering of the Bithynian Nicomedes should not be blamed on the publisher of the book, i.e. Bellona, ​​for the lack of proper correction of the text.

Despite the above-mentioned weaknesses, which I found in this book, I recommend reading it to all lovers of detective stories and good historical novels.

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