Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Book Recommendation: Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii A Day

Yeah, it's almost 11 and I'm still working. But that doesn't mean I can't recommend a kickass book.

This book was a happy accident - I ran into it yesterday while looking for the newest Richard K. Morgan novel, and it's title grabbed me. It's a history book about life in ancient Rome circa 200 AD, but it's written in the style of a Lonely Planet-like travel guide - complete with color pictures (well-done computer renders), maps, places to stay and sites to see. See if the first paragraph doesn't grab you:
All roads, they say, lead to Rome. But choose carefully which road to take, and just as importantly, when to take it. Go too early, and you will struggle against winter storms. Go too late, and all the festivals and spectacles will have finished, and everyone who can will have fled the summer heat to the seaside resort of Baiae, or the cool of the Tuscan hills. Really late arrivals will be jus tin time for the first damp of autumn - the unhealthiest time of year in an eternally unhealthy city.

And it just gets better from there. The style really grabbed me, because it does an excellent job of conveying what everyday life might have been like in terms that are easily accessible, especially to an audience not necessarily familiar with history books. It's also a really cool conceit: I'd love to do a series of role-playing sourcebooks in the same vein, similar to the Ravenloft Gazetteers or Castle Falkenstein.

But I digress. Check it out. Buy it from the link above and support this site. It's definitely worth a read.

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