The book “Vespasian. Rome’s Sacred Flame” by Robert Fabbri is the eighth part of the historical novel telling the story of Vespasian, the first emperor of the Flavian dynasty. This time the main character becomes a governor in Africa and is sent on a dangerous mission to bring enslaved Roman citizens from the exotic country of the Garamantes.
REBIS Publishing didn’t keep us waiting long for the next volume of Vespasian’s adventures, after the seventh volume of the novel appeared at the beginning of the year. As I mentioned, this time the plot is to move to the southern outskirts of the Empire for a while, and Vespasian, together with his companion Magnus and servants, goes to the capital of the Garamants – Garama, as a representative of Nero and governor of Africa. There, in exchange for pearls given to the king, he is to free Roman citizens from slavery and bring them to their homeland. The task is not only difficult due to the notoriously hostile plans of political opponents, but also the fact that he has to operate in a region that is extremely hostile to life. The factors necessary for success in the expedition are: speed of action and water, which accumulated in the ground allows the travelers to survive.
Vespasian also returns to Rome, where Nero’s power is becoming more and more insane. A feast is organized at which Roman women from prominent families are forced to take part in love excesses in front of their fathers and husbands. Nero, as an emperor, focuses primarily on his career as an artist, “regaling” his subjects with his voice and playing musical instruments. His rule and judgments make no logical sense. To top it all off, when a fire breaks out in 64, the emperor is in a music competition. Ultimately, Nero decides to return to the capital when he learns that the fire may reach his palace on the Palatine. Enormous destruction is born in Nero’s mind to build a new capital, “worthy” of his person. At his request, buildings are set on fire, which are to be destroyed and made available, among others, for under his Golden House. To quash any rumors of involvement in the arson, Nero accuses a secret sect of Christians, including the Roman citizen Paul of Tarsus.
Vespasian, as the former governor of Africa, and Sabinus – his brother – the prefect of Rome have to face hard times again. Vespasian in particular will be put to the test as his family is threatened by an old enemy.
As with the previous parts, there is nothing to complain about the plot. The author continues in the footsteps of Vespasian’s biography, adding color to fragments that are not fully known to us. The plot threads are referred to by the author at the end of the book, clearly indicating which places he has colored with fiction.
The next volume of the novel “Emperor of Rome” is in preparation and I certainly do not have to encourage readers and enthusiasts of this series to reach for the eighth volume of the novel. In my opinion, it is as good as the previous ones, and I look forward to the Jewish Revolt and Vespasian’s rise to power.