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The Son of Heaven
A Septimus Quistus Book, #2

by Philip Boast

      If you have read The Third Princess (also reviewed on this site) you will know that Septimus Severus Quistus no longer possesses his name, nor anything else. Nero took it all away from him, including his home, job, slaves, wife and large brood of children (apart from two who are supposed to have escaped). Since then, he has been firmly down and out, reduced to sleeping off drunken nights among a seedy tavernís pigs. But somebody has noticed his prowess at uncovering secrets during his last case, and wants to hire him. This person is no less than the Son of Heaven himself, the heir apparent of the throne of Qin (or China), who is in Rome and on the run from enemies. Somehow Quistus has to get the better of these, solve a murder, unmask a traitor and get Prince Zhang home...

If Agatha Christie were describing this book it would definitely be called an "extravaganza"; no other word quite gets there. You have the lot in here - gold painted assassins, an epic journey, the Spice Road, Nero burning Rome, fireworks and hordes of fierce Huns. It is not a whodunit so much as an adventure story.

I do not profess to know much about China in the 1st century but I suspect some liberties have been taken with historical verisimilitude. All for the sake of a good story of course, and anybody who likes a fast-paced novel couldnít find one much faster than this without exceeding the speed limit. Sure to appeal to anybody who finds the average whodunit formulaic, and even surer to appeal to fans of fantasy novels, as it rather resembles one. Good fun in fact, and refreshingly original.

The Book

Severn House
June 1, 2007
Historical Crime - 64AD, Rome, China and various places en route
More at US|| UK
NOTE: Some violence

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2006