Review published on August 15, 2017.
Otho’s Regret is the third in the Four Emperors series by L.J. Trafford, and it continues the Year of Three Emperors story with Otho, who has seized power from Galba, but is facing opposition from would-be Emperor Vitellius. It is filled not only with battles, but palace intrigues and personal triumphs and tragedies.
Initially, I did not think I would enjoy this book as it has a very light, breezy style, and some of the phrases jar. However, by the time I was halfway through I was thoroughly hooked and almost felt bereft on finishing. The characters are totally believable, the scribe Philo, now a freedman and happily married, the palace eunuch Sporus, who is also the bisexual Emperor’s lover (and who is absolutely hilarious), Mina the Empress’s personal guard, and the lovelorn Lysander, who never has any luck with girlfriends but might just have met the right one, and his best friend Epaphroditus, the palace announcer. At the end of the novel they all feel like personal friends. Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian (who actually gets a good press here).
The author has a degree in Ancient History, and it shows. The reader can feel in very safe hands regarding the authenticity of ancient Rome. A great personal read and one for reading groups too. Can highly recommend.
Ruth Ginarlis 5/5
Otho’s Regret by L.J. Trafford
Karnac Books 9781782202660 pbk Jul 2017
Cheltenham Literature Festival 2017 – line-up and Q&A