Eterlimus, by Aziz Hamza, is a fast-moving and riveting historical fiction novel set in the 500s BC.
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus became the seventh King of the Roman Kingdom after assassinating King Servius Tullius. Tarquinius didn’t stop there. He also took care of his enemies and those loyal to the previous king to cement his rule. During Tarquinius’ reign the people suffered. Injustice and corruption were rampant. The time was ripe for a revolution and the rape of Lucretia, a noble woman, lit the spark. This novel relates how Eterlimus, an owner of a brothel, played a vital role in the king’s downfall and the end of the Roman Kingdom.
Politics makes for fascinating reading. Throughout history leaders and politicians have gone to great lengths to succeed and stay in power. Many may believe that this is a modern phenomenon or that corruption has drastically increased. However, historical accounts, myths, and legends dating back to ancient Rome prove that many were just as power hungry and corrupt or even more so.
Eterlimus is less than 150 pages, but the author has crammed in history lessons, political machinations, vengeance, violence, romance, and twists and turns. Ultimately, this short novel leaves a lasting impression about the evils of ambition and revenge. It should be noted that there are some scenes that make for uncomfortable reading and one scene in particular is beyond disturbing.
What’s even more upsetting is the role of the hero. The reader expects the villain to act villainously. Yet, many want to believe that the hero will rise above the rest of us. And the author dangles this belief in the opening pages. The reader is introduced to a caring man who does his best to go above and beyond to take care of his slaves. And then Eterlimus sets in motion a despicable act. The saving grace and what makes this a fascinating character study is how Eterlimus reacts to his own plotting. The character’s inner turmoil and ultimate choice sheds much light on how one decision can drastically alter a person’s heart and soul. The inclusion of Eterlimus opens the door to an interesting exploration about individuals. Heroes, more than likely are flawed, because they are human. This historical fiction novel exposes past events, but it also serves as a warning for modern readers:
When you walk the path of revenge, know that someone will always follow your trail.
At times, the author glosses over some important developments, such as the blossoming relationship between Eterlimus and Alba, the slave woman he purchased. The two meet and then suddenly they are pledging their love and devotion. The reader doesn’t see the deepening of their feelings, which diminishes believability. It’s important for authors to keep the plot moving, but it’s just as important to outline crucial plot lines. The suspense builds quickly and doesn’t let up until the end.
Eterlimus will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction set in ancient Rome. It’s a quick read and the crisp writing brings the time period and characters to life.
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