09 February, 2016

Render unto Caesar by Gillian Bradshaw

Render unto Caesar is an historical novel set in the Roman Empire. It follows a Greek money-lender from Alexandria who travels to Rome to collect on a defaulter. Unfortunately that defaulter happens to be one of the most powerful men in Rome. What transpires next is a battle of pride, privilege and plots (<<< alliteration!).

This was an incredibly easy read, due to the tremendous authorship of Gillian Bradshaw whose convincing portrayal of a burgeoning imperial Rome is excellent (This city feels alive and dangerous!). There is always a concern (in my case anyway) of being unable to suspend disbelief with historical fiction, but I feel in safe hands with Bradshaw, who leaves little doubt that she knows her setting and subject and is able to relay that knowledge with confidence.

Bradshaw also moves her plot along at a good pace, where the main character (Hermogenes) must find his way across the city quickly in an attempt to resolve his financial difficulties. She also gives plenty of time for the reader to breathe though, as Hermogenes and his travelling household, flesh out their own issues with one another.

While Bradshaw centres the book on themes such as the worth of citizenship and the abuse of power, wealth and law; she also manages to throw in a (albeit anachronistic) crisis of conscience as Hermogenes has a growing concern for the welfare of slaves.

Render unto Caesar is an excellent read and rewarding for anyone with a love for a good thriller set in historical times. Doubly so if you are into this particular period of history!

Title: Render unto Caesar
Author: Gillian Bradshaw

Recommended by James W, Mangere Bridge Library

Since James W thinks you remind him of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power! He therefore thinks that by Grabtha’s hammer and the sons of Worvan… you shall be avenged! James enjoys topical pop-culture references.

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