The Ancient Ocean Blues

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Though young Marcus Oppius Sabinus is less than thrilled when his cousin Gaius sends him on a spy mission, Marcus does find this preferable to helping Gaius in his everyday business of buying elections through bribery. Soon, therefore, he’s traveling to Athens, in the company of a Greek publisher and Marcus’s fiancée, Paulla (who stows away in hopes of improving her acquaintance with the heroic Aulus Lucinus Spurinna, not for the pleasure of Marcus’s company). Needless to say, smooth sailing does not lie ahead.

Narrated in a breezy, humorous style by Marcus, this was a fun read in which the carefully researched history went down painlessly and where the historical figures (including Gaius Oppius) easily mixed with the fictitious ones, several of whom first appeared in Mitchell’s previous novel, The Roman Conspiracy. I especially enjoyed Paulla, a connoisseur of romances who turns out to be anything but a starry-eyed romantic. Young adults, even those not normally interested in the ancient world, will find this an engaging read.

 

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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award

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(US) 9780887768323

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188

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