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Octavian’s Light by Don E. McGregor

Octavian’s Light is a saga set in Roman Times. This compelling novel follows the interlinked stories of Mischella, who is born into slavery, street urchin Riccar with a talent for drawing, and Octavian, who is unexpectedly adopted by Julius Caesar, and who eventually becomes Rome’s first emperor, Augustus. For Octavian, there are wars, plotting from rivals, bouts of illness, his wife Liva’s scheming, and an extraordinary meeting with Cleopatra. For slaves Mischella and Riccar, their lives are more about survival than grandeur, but they are nonetheless extraordinary.

The concept of this novel is clever, as Riccar’s talent for drawing allows him to closely witness Octavian’s rise to power so that the lives of slave and emperor connect. You could argue that Riccar is perhaps Octavian’s only true friend in a world of betrayal and intrigue. Mischella also adds the female perspective, along with her mother’s story, and these story strands are expertly intertwined throughout.

What I enjoyed most about this novel is the details that bring the Roman Empire to life. The information about their homes, clothing, what they ate and drank, and the structure of society is so well–written that it allows you to walk the ancient streets or to be there at the Colosseum.

Impeccably researched with memorable characters, Octavian’s Light is a must-read for anyone with an interest in Roman history. It is a fascinating blend of fact and fiction.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Stargull Publishing


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