Fabulous review from UNRV

A rather wonderful review from a reviewer who has spent time contemplating the characters and themes of Palatine.


It is interesting to see Philo described as innocent.
It is a topic that crops up in the books and i am not sure it holds up.

Despite his apparent naivety, working for Epaphroditus Philo is complicit in the assassinations and interrogations of probably innocent people.
In Palatine he is given the task of sourcing a good assassin to depose of Galba.
At no time does he even question this order or ask what Galba has done to deserve this fate.

It is this tendency to blindly follow orders that leads Philo into grave peril in Galba’s Men.

How to end a series: BIG!

Palatine 2015galbas menjpothos regretvitellius feast2

I am now at the point of plotting out Vitellius’ Feast which will be the final book in the Four Emperors Series.
By the time I have written the final sentence of Vitellius’ Feast I will have contributed over 400k words on the subject of 69 AD.

So how to end what has been a rather enjoyable ride through Palatine, Galba’s Men, Otho’s Regret and Vitellius’ Feast? Answer=BIG!

Luckily history is on my side. Vitellius was a big man of ample appetites and tastes.
Suetonius says of him:

But his besetting sins were luxury and cruelty. He divided his feasts into three, sometimes into four a day, breakfast, luncheon, dinner, and a drinking bout; and he was readily able to do justice to all of them through his habit of taking emetics.

Which gives me scope to try and out do some of Nero’s excesses depicted in Palatine.
We also have drama a plenty with the burning down of the Temple of Jupiter amongst many shocking events that took place towards the end of 69 AD.
Along with the inevitable deaths, including one historically attested death of a character I know readers are extremely fond of (me too!).

So all in all we have excesses and action, death and mourning, treachery and betrayal to come in the final showdown.
But also some kind of conclusion to the lives of the characters who survive to the end. An ending for them all. One that I hope will satisfy.

Characters in Five Quotes: Tigellinus

1) Tigellinus strode in, his unsteady gait betraying his unusual wakefulness; he was drunk, roaring drunk.

2) But Tigellinus was afternoon drunk. He was the Praetorian prefect. A friend to Nero. He thought himself invincible

3) “I thought you weren’t coming.”
“Why would you think that?” slurred the prefect.
“Because you weren’t invited.”
“Wasn’t I? I go to everything, it is my thing. Besides I’m the pre, pre, pre, the soldier thing, I look after the emperor.”

4) Dribbling from the side of his mouth, Tigellinus had yet to experience the all-time killer hangover that was waiting to hit him, or the painfully stiff neck incurred while sleeping curled up by an ornamental fountain

5) Diplomacy had never been Tigellinus’ strong point. It was difficult to know what his strong point actually was, each positive aspect to his nature being anchored down firmly by the negative

Characters in 5 Quotes – Epaphroditus

1) His path from imperial slave to pre-eminence had been a treacherous one; he’d survived by successfully skidding between palace factions, keeping his head down when others were literally losing theirs, and by being really quite good at his job.

2) Epaphroditus was just old enough to remember Livia, though not her husband the Emperor Augustus. If asked to recall he offered some vague waffles, infected by the freedman’s insistence that his life began on the day of his manumission from slavery. This was a shame since he possessed the type of tip top stellar imperial gossip that sadly never makes the history books.

3) With an absurdly generous emperor you could find yourself at the end of the day up by a seaside villa, a dozen slaves, and two bags of denarii just for complimenting Sporus’ slippers. Epaphroditus had done very well for himself.

4) Aphrodite was an intelligent woman, and even if she had not caught Mina’s suggestive eyes, the quick flash of panic that ran across her husband’s countenance would have alerted her. He smoothed it away and offered her the smile he utilised whenever he was about to suggest something he knew she would object to.

5) The grounds and house were confiscated and shortly after the old Eemperor’s death they were discreetly handed over to Epaphroditus. A reward which had garnered much palace speculation.

From Nero in Greece: The Tour!

From Nero in Greece: The Tour!

It’s a draft so all grammatical mistakes are my own etc etc.

Philo stood by the far wall of Sporus’ lounge examining the brand new frescoes, attempting to decode the story, assuming it be the life of a God or a hero. What perplexed him were the handstanding naked youths, their genitals painted with an accurate eye, dangling downwards.

“Are they Baccanates?” he asked Epaphroditus. “They seem very jolly.”
“They’re even jollier done that end,” replied the Secretary pointing to a section of the frieze further down the wall.

Philo followed his finger and was instantly assailed by a hot flush that worked up his neck. “Gosh,” he breathed.
“I don’t think that is even anatomically possible,” said Epaphroditus pointing at a particularly lurid depiction of a sexual act that had Philo’s brown eyes opening extremely wide.

They were interrupted from their pondering by a grand entrance; four huge black Ethiopian slaves carrying a golden sedan chair on which sat Sporus dressed in a purple dressing gown with fluffy matching slippers, his hair hidden beneath a white towel knotted atop his head. The slaves lowered to their knees, placing the chair on the ground. Sporus took a regal step and flourished a hand. Two slaves dashed to the couch and lifted it between them, carrying it over to the eunuch and placing it down, saving him a valuable five steps. Sporus threw himself dramatically onto the couch, sprawled across it, one leg escaping from his gown and showing off his smooth, shaved calf and thigh. He waved a hand, giving Epaphroditus permission to speak.

The secretary fought to suppress a smile at such antics. Even the usually grim Straton showed off his four remaining teeth. In actuality this merriment indicated less amusement and more glee; for if Sporus carried on in this manner Straton anticipated an afternoon of exercise for his whipping hand.

Epaphroditus turned calmly to the litter bearers. “You four are reassigned.”
Then to the two coach bearers. “You two are reassigned.” And then over to Sporus’ beauticians, all twelve of them. “And so are you lot.”

An outraged Sporus squeaked, “You can’t do that!”
“Yes I can,” Epaphroditus told him evenly, arms folded across his chest.
“I’m the Empress!” declared Sporus pushing back his shoulders. an action that caused the towel to fall from his head, revealing short dark curls, so very different to Poppaea’s auburn hair.
“No you are not. You are the Empress’ stand in. You will share her slaves. They are the most experienced in created her look after all. We shall also have….”

Epaphroditus looked to Philo, he read from a list “Seventeen tiaras, three solid gold ankle bracelets, two lapis lazli broaches, nineteen silver hair combs, four full golden dinner sets including pepper sellers.”
“The Emperor gave those to me.”
“No he didn’t. You ordered these items personally. They should not have been sanctioned.”

Characters in Five Quotes – Nero

As June 9th is the anniversary of Nero’s suicide in 68 AD, how could I fail to represent him in five quotes from Palatine http://www.karnacbooks.com/product/palatine-the-four-emperors-series-book-i/36826/


1) You could always tell when Nero was about to enter a room. The air was sucked out, there was a momentary silence, and then you were hit in the face with a full blown typhoon. It was, Epaphroditus imagined, like hearing the whistle of a ballista bolt above your head just before it obliterated you off the face off the earth.

2) “You will leave. You will all leave. I wish to spend time with my Poppaea. Rome needs an heir as everyone keeps telling me. It is my duty. Our duty.”
Good luck with that one, thought Epaphroditus as he departed to the sounds of a giggling eunuch and his amorous emperor

3) Where it had fallen down was the timing, which was his department. He wasn’t going to beat himself up about it, though. Who would have thought to check the delivery schedule for the day? And why would anyone have thought it necessary to inform him about the delivery of a water organ? And how was he supposed to know that water organs were Nero’s newest and greatest passion? Nero’s passions were so numerous it was impossible to keep track of them all. And water organs? Why water organs?

4) Nero, placated, attempted a smile. “Answer me honestly, Epaphroditus.”
“I always have, Caesar.”
“Tell me, am I a good lyre player?”
Epaphroditus affected incredulity. “Caesar, you have spent many years in a painstaking cultivation of the art.”
“I have, haven’t I?”
“How could one fail to be a good player after such a length of study?”
It was a good question and one Epaphroditus had wondered about for years.

5) “We should expel all the Gauls from Rome, don’t you think? They are going to be in on it and they’re just waiting for the signal and then they’ll kill us all in our beds. We should execute them first. Can you look into that?
“I am going to Gaul. No, don’t protest. I am going. When the troops see their emperor and see him weep before them …
We could use the elephants. The ones from that show last year, we could ride them to Gaul, across the Alps. Like Hannibal. Vindex would never expect that. Poppaea could sit on the trunk dressed up like an Indian. I can just see you in a turban, you’d look so sweet. Get Calvia to design an outfit