In Steven Saylor's latest work, “Raiders of the Nile: A Novel of the Ancient World,” readers once again follow the exploits of Gordianus the Finder, ancient Rome's greatest detective. A sequel to 2012's “The Seven Wonders,” itself a prequel to Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series, “Raiders of the Nile” continues the story of Gordianus' adventures as a young man in ancient Egypt.
When the slave who is virtually his wife, Bethesda, is kidnapped in a case of mistaken identity, Gordianus must leave the comforts of Alexandria and undertake a perilous journey to find her. Along the way, he befriends a slave boy, is framed for murder and infiltrates a gang of outlaws who may be holding Bethesda for ransom. All of this leads Gordianus to his greatest adventure yet: the heist of Alexandria's greatest treasure.
In a departure from most books in the Roma Sub Rosa novels, “Raiders of the Nile” does not play out like a conventional mystery novel. Though there are questions posed throughout, this book reads more like an adventure novel, featuring thrilling chases, perilous escapes, fearsome beasts and exciting street battles. The change in tone is surprising, but Saylor's clever story, engaging characters and breakneck pace make “Raiders of the Nile” a difficult book to put down.
If a historian's mission is to provide history's naked facts, it is a historical novelist's goal to communicate the flavor and feeling of a particular era. In this, Saylor is unmatched. From the towering Pharos Lighthouse to the waters of the Nile Delta, from the dungeons of kings to the rowing decks of galleys, ancient Egypt comes alive on the pages.
With the beautiful prose and meticulous detail that readers have come to expect from the author, “Raiders of the Nile” is a novel that succeeds on every level. Quite simply, it is another triumph from a master storyteller.
“Raiders of the Nile” contains some brief sexual content and some brief descriptions of moderately violent acts.
Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at SLCC. Cody has also appeared on many local stages, including Hale Centre Theatre and Off Broadway Theatre. His email is [email protected].