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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Roman Empire

Thea (of Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn)

Mistress of Rome - Kate QuinnDear readers, tonight with me is a woman who came to us as a Judaean slave girl, only to catch the eye of our divine emperor. she is here to tell us of her remarkable journey, and about the highest echelons of Roman society.

 

 

What were your first impressions of Rome, after being sold to slavery in Judea?

I survived the suicide massacre of Masada when I was about four years old; one of seven survivors. The rest of my family died, and then I was enslaved and brought west. I don’t remember much of Judaea, but even so, Rome has never felt like home to me. It’s hot, teeming, raucous, and quite frequently cruel.

Is Emperor Domitian as bad in person as the senate makes him out to be?

It depends which side of him you see, and he has as many sides as a set of dice. To his soldiers he is blunt, honest, brave–they worship him. To the Senate he is arrogant, overbearing, dismissive–they despise him. To his family is he capricious, fearful, fickle–they quiver before him. To me . . . well. I fascinate him because he doesn’t frighten me. He likes to test that, and it’s kept me alive so far. Continue reading “Thea (of Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn)”

Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)

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Dear readers, tonight with us is a combat medic, servicing in the legions assigned to one of the Roman Empire’s most notoriously dangerous provinces – Britain. He’s here to tell about his adventures, and accidental involvement in crime.

How does a Roman army medic end up solving murders?

I’m glad you asked that, because the answer is: reluctantly. I’m supposed to be in the business of making people feel better, so despite what anyone tells you, I’m not keen on stirring up trouble. I wouldn’t have gone near that business of the dead girl back in Deva if anyone else had been willing to deal with it. Oh, and if the lady who is now my wife hadn’t been quite so insistent.

(Of course as the head of the household, I’m the one in charge. Not my wife. I want to make that clear, because some of the people reading this may be Britons, who often have trouble remembering the proper order of things. I know this because my wife, Tilla, is a Briton. On the other hand, since very few of them see the point of reading and writing, this paragraph may be redundant.)

To return to the subject of murders—I certainly don’t go looking for them, but in the course of my work I stumble across suspicious injuries, and now word seems to have got round that if you’ve found an unexpected body, Ruso’s the man to deal with it. My author tells me that in the future there will be a specialist unit called the Police Force who are called in to sort out these things, while doctors can get on with seeing their patients and writing reports for the Treasury administrators. I’m sure she must have got the second half of that wrong. No-one in their right mind would pay a doctor to work as a scribe. Continue reading “Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)”

Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)

Thomas Brooke - Roman MaskDear readers, tonight with me in a man who witnessed one of the Roman Empire’s most iconic events. He is here to tell us about some of the wonders to be found across the Empire, and of its leading men and women.

 

What is Germany really like? Are the people there really as tall as the legends say?

Germany is awful.  No, really it is.  The lands are mainly covered in dark, thick forests that are often shrouded in mist, so finding your way through the impenetrable maze of woodland is all but impossible.  You don’t ever want to get lost in the woods there, trust me.  What isn’t forested, tends to be covered in bogs, or stony fields unsuited for anything but the basest of crops.  Their winters are so cold, with a harsh wind that comes in from the East, that you’re likely to freeze to death unless you find shelter come nightfall.

But worst of all are the people.  The German tribes are made up of a variety of warlike people all full of giant muscle bound warriors, with blonde or red hair, and fierce cold pale eyes that bore through you with hatred and malice.  Their women are almost as bad, often following their men to the battlefield to hurl insults and spit anger at their enemies from behind the lines. Continue reading “Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)”

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