Roma Amor official website
A novel of Caligula's Rome

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Book Review: Crystal King's FEAST OF SORROW

June 5, 2017 | from Sherry Christie's blog

In late Augustan Rome, food is power. Good food, that is. That’s why Marcus Gavius Apicius spends an unheard-of twenty thousand denarii to buy a slaveboy named Thrasius, who has begun developing a reputation as a chef. Exhilarated by his new purchase and entranced by the prestige of becoming Rome’s premier gastronome, Apicius disregards the warnings of a soothsayer that success will bring sorrow with it.

Apicius’s star ascends as Thrasius invents ever more unusual, succulent, and expensive dishes. Meantime, Thrasius finds a family in the house of the Gavii, from his appreciative (if increasingly erratic) master to Apicius’s wife Aelia and daughter Apicata, his own beloved Passia (Apicata’s slavewoman), and the other slaves. But a shadow looming over the household—the ill will of Livia, the emperor’s wife—is soon darkened by another: the rise of the ruthless Sejanus, who holds a dark secret over Apicius’s head.

Author Crystal King weaves an entrancing tale of ambition and treachery interspersed with exotic recipes from Apicius’s real-life cookbooks (which are really Thrasius’s, we assume). Her characters are fully dimensional with well-realized desires and fears, especially the likable Thrasius, who over time grows in confidence and authority. The relationship between masters and slaves is well handled. All in all, a well-told story that is definitely recommended.

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