Review of David Barbaree’s The Exiled

Author Bio: David Barbaree’s debut work is the first volume in a historical trilogy. Deposed is set in Ancient Rome, ten years after the downfall of the emperor Nero. It is a novel of breath-taking scope, showcasing meticulous research and commendable erudition, as well as consummate writing skill and carefully crafted, vivid characters. It was published by Bonnier in May 2017.

Review:

I was provided an ARC through Bonnier Books, my thanks to them for this excellent novel!

This novel is one of those bittersweet endings that does not end up in a happy tale. It is a tale of tragedy, loss and betrayel.

It is also a story that is so immersive, that you are immersed into the world of Ancient Rome. The novel in my opinion has its strengths when it focuses on the individual characters through each chapter. By the end, I had grown a certain fondness for Pliny and Ulpius, who I will not reveal. It is best that you discover who Ulpius is. There are many viewpoints throughout the novel, though I had more sympathy for the Parthian’s point of view. David has done a tremendous amount of research for this novel.

I applaud David for breaking the conventional rules and showing each viewpoint through their point of view. It felt like a memoir, a diary of sorts. I was listening to the HBO soundtrack while listening to this. Its not easy to summarize a novel like this. The story structure is different and the pacing is unusually different. While the novel may feel at the start as a standalone, I would disagree with this. It is a different style that I cannot describe in a simple sentence.

The prose of the second person is David’s great strength in the novel. At many points you’ll laugh, chuckle and feel sadness. Some of the weaknesses held with Gaius, who I felt could have needed more scenes in the book. I feel we did not get to spend enough time with him. Likewise, the relationship between Domitilla and the Batavian needed a more deeper connection, I would have liked to seen more interaction between the two. And Titus’s opposition to this relationship. It is there, but to improve the stakes for this could also have been a more powerful cliff-hanger.

With Barlaas, I think he could have been given more of a motivation to run his ambitions to escape Rome. However, this is my general thought. Over-all, this novel is a complicated but enjoyable novel. When I mean complicated, think of it like looking at a 400 page hardcover of a new fantasy book, if this was a fantasy novel, I can gurantee you this would be a excellent debut.

This is definitely one of the best novels I’ve read on Rome, and this tops the rest. Compared to the other authors, this is AMAZING!

I enjoyed this novel, and my rating is 4.5/5

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