Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he rides past his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.
37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son–Caligula’s closest friend–committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.
Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome’s enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father orders him to befriend Caligula, he has no choice.
Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life . . . and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.
“The first installment in a page-turning saga that revisits the heroes and villains of the grandest city of the ancient world . . . Comes alive with the long gone characters who were its lifeblood” -Kirkus Reviews
‘‘Combines current political concerns, the wide lens of the serious historical novel, and emotional maturity and realism with an utterly splendid grasp of what it must have been like to live in Rome under Caligula’s reign.” -Sarah Smith, Agatha Award winner and New York Times Notable author
Gods, Ghosts, and Germans in Caligula’s Rome
by Sherry Christie
Thank you, Jenny Q, for a chance to share some of the paranormal possibilities I explored while writing my first novel, ROMA AMOR, about Caligula’s Rome.
Right from the beginning, there’s tension between a main character who doesn’t believe in spirits and another who does. The scene is set in Chapter 1 when headstrong, hot-tempered Marcus Carinna, riding home from military service on the Danube frontier, hears a voice whisper, “Your turn, little brother,” as he passes his family tomb:
I whipped my head around so quickly that my helmet crest tugged at its lashings. No one was near enough to have spoken so softly to me.
Little brother . . . ?
By Mithras’s Dog! What made me imagine ghostly whispers from a dead man?
Moments earlier, something has also startled the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he’s bringing to Rome: She drew an amber pendant from under her tunic, and in a loud, strained voice called out what could only be an incantation against spirits.
At this time (37 AD), Rome is a hodgepodge of religions and cults. Officially everyone pays homage to the traditional Roman gods: Jupiter, Juno, Mars, and so on. Most people also pray privately to a god or goddess of their own—maybe a deity from their home country or a patron of their affinity group. The government is tolerant of different beliefs, as long as you’re willing to go along with the state religion in public.
Like most well-educated patrician men, Marcus pays lip service to the official gods. But in his opinion, only the weak-minded actually believe in a host of divine beings and spirits.
Aurima, on the other hand, is from a forest-dwelling people who see gods and ghosts everywhere in the natural world. She warns Marcus of a presence that may be the spirit of his brother, Publius, who killed himself three years earlier:
“A ghost is with you,” Aurima said.
Her gaze was unblinking. Despite myself I glanced to the side, then turned and looked behind me. There was nothing and no one but Ollius and Cleon, staring at me with eyes like goose eggs.
Speaking more harshly to hide my confusion, I said, “Ridiculous. You said nothing about this when we—when I brought you home from my sister’s house.”
“He was not with you then,” she said. “The spirits who are not at peace, it is death that calls them.”
After his return from the frontier, Marcus is ordered by his father, an ambitious Senator, to serve the man who was Publius’s closest friend. But Marcus can’t forget how his brother died, accused of treason—or that the friend who didn’t try to save him was Caligula Caesar, now master of Rome.
Caligula . . . ah, there’s a piece of work! As Marcus does his best to befriend and steady the temperamental ruler, he falls under the spell of the mystical and ruthless Aurima, who, as a hostage and an outlander, is forbidden to him.
But the past will not stay buried. Goaded by his brother’s restless spirit, Marcus will grapple with treachery and betrayal that threaten everything he holds dear . . . and may destroy peace and stability in the Roman world.
So here’s my question for you:
What do you think about the spirit Marcus senses, which impels him to seek the truth? Are you a skeptic or a believer? If you try the book, please give me your opinion. ROMA AMOR: A NOVEL OF CALIGULA’S ROME is just $2.99 in the Kindle store right now—or you can enter below for a chance to win one of two free print copies.
Thanks for your time. I’d love to hear your honest comments!
To win a paperback copy of Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome by Sherry Christie, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs!
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