Sat. 14th August: The Boat of Fate

While hoping that The Road to Rome is soaring up the charts since its release on Thursday, I have been reading a wonderful Roman fiction novel recommended to me by a member of staff in my local Waterstone’s. It’s called The Boat of Fate and was written by a man called Keith Roberts. Set at the time of the decline of the western Roman Empire, it’s about a troubled young Iberian Roman called Sergius Paullus, and details his life from his youth in Iberia to his time as an apprentice in Rome, a military officer in Gaul, and then his role in the final struggle in Britain after the legions left in AD 410. It’s a wonderful read, and I urge you to get a copy if you can. I would rate in the top five of all Roman novels I’ve read.

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  1. leslieianjones
    Posted 28 August 2010 at 17:04 | Permalink

    Just in case anyone tries to find The Boat of Fate it is out of print. The good news is my small local bookshop says publishers will print off copy when it is ordered….so waiting for mine.

  2. benkane
    Posted 29 August 2010 at 19:43 | Permalink

    Fair play for ordering one, Les. I didn’t know it was POD. Fortunately, the Waterstone’s in which I was pointed to it, had a copy in stock. Amazon stock it too, and there are 2nd copies there too, all with even more dodgy covers than the current incarnation. I hope you like it.

  3. Posted 1 September 2010 at 17:26 | Permalink

    On the back of this recommendation i hunted down a signed 1st edition copy. Its now in my reading pile….No pressure on your recommendations Mr Kane (grin)

  4. benkane
    Posted 2 September 2010 at 08:50 | Permalink

    No where did I suggest that you buy a first edition, Parmenion! Well done on finding one, though – how much did that set you back? A shame that Keith Roberts won’t get the increased revenues (such as they are!) from more people buying his books: he died about 10 years ago. Seems as if he was quite a troubled character, unfortunately. There’s a good tribute to him on a site I found – just look him up on Google. I still think you’ll enjoy it.

  5. Posted 2 September 2010 at 20:16 | Permalink

    £35 its dedicated to his agent, its a good investment as well as potentially a good read..

  6. benkane
    Posted 2 September 2010 at 21:36 | Permalink

    Parmenion – wow – bargain! And potentially a good read?!

  7. Posted 2 September 2010 at 21:56 | Permalink

    Always save the review for when you have finished the book not before…. It has potential from your recommendation, now the next choice is what to read next your book or this one ? Thoughts???? LoL

  8. benkane
    Posted 3 September 2010 at 08:46 | Permalink

    Parmenion – true, very true. As for which one to read first, I wouldn’t know! 🙂

  9. leslieianjones
    Posted 4 September 2010 at 15:47 | Permalink

    Obtained The Boat of Fate. It’s clear within the first 10-15 pages that this was an author who really researched his subject.

  10. benkane
    Posted 6 September 2010 at 08:55 | Permalink

    Glad you think so, Les!

  11. leslieianjones
    Posted 6 September 2010 at 14:24 | Permalink

    I am loving this book. Keith Roberts knew how to create realistic characters who you can identify with. You really get a feel for the uncertain times Sergius lives in.

  12. benkane
    Posted 6 September 2010 at 14:28 | Permalink

    Result! I’m very glad that you like it, Les. Spread the word! Parmenion?

  13. Dale
    Posted 7 September 2010 at 16:07 | Permalink

    Have just ordered a copy from Amazon. They appear to have a few sellers with copies. It will have to wait until I have finished Road to Rome though ; )

  14. benkane
    Posted 7 September 2010 at 20:24 | Permalink

    Dale – good for you! I’m really delighted by the number of people who are going out and buying Boat of Fate. Of course, it’s not as important as finishing The Road to Rome LOL.

  15. Posted 8 September 2010 at 19:12 | Permalink

    errr…sorry i got side tracked when orion sent me a proof of Gentleman Soldier the new Adrian Goldsworthy…but Road to Rome is next honest…then Boat of fate

  16. benkane
    Posted 8 September 2010 at 20:14 | Permalink

    Fair enough!!

  17. leslieianjones
    Posted 16 September 2010 at 14:44 | Permalink

    Just finished The Boat of Fate, so no spoilers from me. A 10/10 book. Never known a ‘roman’ author to go into so much detail and obvious research….with possible exception of someone named Ben I think 🙂

  18. benkane
    Posted 16 September 2010 at 20:15 | Permalink

    I’m so chuffed that you gave it a 10/10, Les! It’s such a shame, isn’t it, that it isn’t better known? (Roberts’ sci-fi work is meant to be as good, and he’s regarded as one of the best writers in that genre ever, who never got the recognition he deserved.) Despite what you say about me – for which thank you! – I feel Roberts was a far greater writer than I am. That book, with its ridiculous cover, is an absolute gem, in my humble opinion.

  19. leslieianjones
    Posted 18 September 2010 at 10:27 | Permalink

    Bought ‘Roma’ The epic novel of ancient rome by Steven Saylor today. Backcover says it covers period from Rome as a campsite along a trade route to the beginnings of Imperial Rome. Sounds good to me. Will let you know what I think….

  20. benkane
    Posted 18 September 2010 at 11:26 | Permalink

    Please do, Les! It’s meant to be outstanding. I think I should buy it too. While I think that Saylor is an excellent writer, I’m not really in to detective stories, even if they’re in Rome. Roma is not about Gordianus, though, which is why I think I’d like it…

  21. leslieianjones
    Posted 22 September 2010 at 12:20 | Permalink

    Halfway through ‘Roma’ and just about the meet the Gauls. I love the way Steven knits his characters into historical fact. His story on how Rome came to be is thought prevoking and makes sense in many ways…..

  22. leslieianjones
    Posted 29 September 2010 at 14:30 | Permalink

    ‘Roma’ now finished. An epic read. When I read book I wonder if an film will ever come from it. I think the answer with ‘Roma’ is no. Maybe a mini-TV series. I think you have more chance of a screenplay with your trilogy….

  23. benkane
    Posted 30 September 2010 at 09:02 | Permalink

    It’s a real shame when books are so big, or the canvas is so vast that they can’t be made in to a film, isn’t it? They’d be excellent, but no one has $500 million to make them. Still, we die hard Tolkien fans thought that about Lord of the Rings for our entire lives until Peter Jackson came along…if The Forgotten Legion got made in to a film or TV series, I’d obviously be stoked becuase of the money it would bring in, but the thrill of seeing the battle of Carrhae would be absolutely immense. One day…

  24. leslieianjones
    Posted 2 October 2010 at 09:48 | Permalink

    Today I bought Steven Saylor’s sequel to ‘Roma’ entitled ‘Empire’ Really don’t know how you authors come up with the ideas for your book titles

    Should keep me busy along with other books until a certain vet/author gets his arm out of wherever it is today on the farm….

  25. benkane
    Posted 4 October 2010 at 09:03 | Permalink

    @Les: Har har! Unfortunately, in order for our books to sell, we ‘authors’ are stuck with really short, appealing names that catch readers’ eyes in the bookshop/supermarket. Hence Saylor’s titles, mine, and every one else’s! It’s quite hard as a result to come up with something original…
    And on the vet front, I’m very happy to say that I haven’t shoved my arm up anything bovine for many years (2000 in NZ). In addition, I haven’t worked as a vet for twenty months, which is a cause for great rejoicing on my part. And I know that the slow appearance of new books in the shops is annoying, but the delay in publishing is always the decision of the publishers, not mine, or any other authors. Sorry! I’d like them to come out faster too – the time between finishing a novel and seeing it in the ‘flesh’ as it were is often so long that it seems really strange when it is published. An almost ‘did I write that?’ feeling, because invariably I’m 2/3 or 3/4 of the way in to another one by then.

  26. leslieianjones
    Posted 5 October 2010 at 18:16 | Permalink

    Me annoyed? Never!! I’m enjoying all the Roman based books I’m buying now. Even got myself a Waterstones Card….things must be serious.

  27. leslieianjones
    Posted 15 October 2010 at 18:57 | Permalink

    Well that’s Steven Saylor’s “Empire” finished. Better than “Roma” because it covers the period 14AD-141AD in 589 pages. You get more of a feel for the intrigues of the Imperial court and the Emperors. You grow with the Pinarii family. 10 out of 10 marks.

  28. benkane
    Posted 18 October 2010 at 11:56 | Permalink

    Wow – that’s a recommendation and a half! I’ll have to put it on my TBR list *sigh* (because it’s so big!). To be fair, though, I’ve just finished the lengthy amazing Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness – the conclusion of his 10/10 Chaos Walking trilogy. They’re not my usual type of genre at all – young adult – but they came to me very highly recommended, and boy did they live up to it.

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