Roma Sub Rosa Books in Order: How to read Steven Saylor’s Series?

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Written by American author Steven Saylor, Roma Sub Rosa is a series historical mystery novels set in ancient Rome during the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire periods. The series follows the adventures of Gordianus the Finder, a private investigator (or “informer”) who solves crimes and uncovers mysteries in the bustling and often treacherous city of Rome.

Steven Saylor’s Ancient Rome series is a prequel following a young Gordianus. It is included in this Roma Sub Rosa reading order.

How to read the Roma Sub Rosa series in order?

Every entry in the Roma Sub Rosa book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other. That said, they were not all published in chronological order. We’ll start with the publication order, you can see the other reading option at the end of the article.

Reading the Roma Sub Rosa series in Publication Order

  1. Roman Blood (1991) – In the unseasonable heat of a spring morning in 80 B.C., Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, a young advocate staking his reputation on a case involving the savage murder of the wealthy, sybaritic Sextus Roscius. Charged with the murder is Sextus’s son, greed being the apparent motive. The punishment, rooted deep in Roman tradition, is horrific beyond imagining. The case becomes a political nightmare when Gordianus’s investigation takes him through the city’s raucous, pungent streets and deep into rural Umbria. Now, one man’s fate may threaten the very leaders of Rome itself.
  2. Arms of Nemesis (1992) – The hideously disfigured body was found in the atrium. The only clues are a blood-soaked cloak, and, carved into the stone at the corpse’s feet, the word Sparta. The murdered man was the overseer of Marcus Crassus’s estate, apparently killed by two runaway slaves bent on joining Spartacus’s revolt. In response to the murder, the wealthy, powerful Crassus vows to honor an ancient law and kill his ninety-nine remaining slaves in three days. Now Gordianus the Finder has been summoned from Rome by a mysterious client to find out the truth about the murder before the three days are up. 
  3. Catilina’s Riddle (1993) – Gordianus, disillusioned by the corruption of Rome circa 63 B.C., has fled the city with his family to live on a farm in the Etruscan countryside. But this bucolic life is disrupted by the machinations and murderous plots of two politicians: Roman consul Cicero, Gordianus’s longtime patron, and populist senator Catilina, Cicero’s political rival and a candidate to replace him in the annual elections for consul. Claiming that Catilina plans an uprising if he loses the race, Cicero asks Gordianus to keep a watchful eye on the radical. 
  1. The Venus Throw (1995) – On a chill January evening in 56 B.C. , two strange visitors to Rome–an Egyptian ambassador and a eunuch priest–seek out Gordianus the Finder whose specialty is solving murders. But the ambassador, a philosopher named Dio, has come to ask for something Gordianus cannot give–help in staying alive. Before the night is out, he will be murdered.
  2. A Murder on the Appian Way (1996) – Torchlight flickers on the elegant marble walls. The sound of a mob echoes in the street. The year is 52 B.C. and the naked body of Publius Clodius is about to be carried through the teaming streets of Rome. Clodius, a rich man turned rabble-rouser, was slain on the most splendid road in the world, the Appian Way. Now Clodius’s rival, Milo, is being targeted for revenge and the city teeters on the verge of chaos. 
  3. The House of the Vestals (1997) – It is Ancient Rome, and Gordianus the Finder has a knack for finding trouble. Known to many as the one man in the ancient world who can both keep a secret and uncover one, Gordianus lays bare some of his most intriguing and compelling adventures.
  1. Rubicon (1999) – As Caesar marches on Rome and panic erupts in the city, Gordianus the Finder discovers, in his own home, the body of Pompey’s favorite cousin. Before fleeing the city, Pompey exacts a terrible bargain from the finder of secrets-to unearth the killer, or sacrifice his own son-in-law to service in Pompey’s legions, and certain death. Amid the city’s sordid underbelly, Gordianus learns that the murdered man was a dangerous spy. Now, as he follows a trail of intrigue, betrayal, and ferocious battles on land and sea, the Finder is caught between the chaos of war and the terrible truth he must finally reveal.
  2. Last Seen in Massilia (2000) – In 49 B.C., a bloody civil war between the forces loyal to Pompey and Julius Caesar has engulfed the Roman world and no one is allowed to be neutral. With Rome itself in turmoil, Gordianus the Finder receives an anonymous message informing him of the death of his son Meto, who lately has been acting as a double agent for Caesar. In search of the truth about Meto’s fate, Gordianus journeys to the beseiged seaport of Massilia (modern-day Marseilles) which has sided with Pompey and is now stubbornly holding out against Caesar’s troups camped just outside it’s gates and harbor. 
  3. A Mist of Prophecies (2002) – During the Roman Civil War, as the forces of Pompey and Julius Caesar fight a series of battles in the provinces over control of the Republic, Rome itself is a hotbed of intrigue as those left behind wait for word. In this tentative and treacherous environment, a beautiful young seeress is murdered in the marketplace. Possibly mad and claiming no memory of her own past, Cassandra – like her namesake – is reputed to have had the true gift of prophecy and, as a result, she became a confidante of the rich and powerful. 
  1. The Judgment of Caesar (2004) – It is 48 B.C. For years now, the rival Roman generals Caesar and Pompey have engaged in a contest for world domination. Both now turn to Egypt, where Pompey plans a last desperate stand on the banks of the Nile, while Caesar’s legendary encounter with queen Cleopatra will spark a romance that reverberates down the centuries. But Egypt is a treacherous land, torn apart by the murderous rivalry between the goddess-queen and her brother King Ptolemy. Into this hot-house atmosphere of intrigue and deception comes Gordianus the Finder, innocently seeking a cure for his wife Bethesda in the sacred waters of the Nile. But when his plans go awry, he finds himself engaged in an even more desperate pursuit – to prove the innocence of the son he once disowned, who stands accused of murder.
  2. A Gladiator Dies Only Once (2005) – Set during period between the events of his novels Roman Blood and Catalina’s Riddle, these previously untold adventures range from twisted search for truth behind a threatening blind item in the Acta Diurna (“The Consul’s Wife”) and a kidnapping and murder during the revolt of Sertorius (“The White Fawn”) to the story behind Cicero’s discovery of Archimedes’s tomb (“Archimedes Tomb”) and a perplexing domestic situation in Gordianus’s own home (“If a Cyclops Could Vanish in a Glimpse of an Eye.”) 
  3. The Triumph of Caesar (2008) – The Roman civil war has come to its conclusion – Pompey is dead, Egypt is firmly under the control of Cleopatra (with the help of Rome’s legions), and for the first time in many years Julius Caesar has returned to Rome itself. Appointed by the Senate as Dictator, the city abounds with rumors asserting that Caesar wishes to be made King – the first such that Rome has had in centuries. And that not all of his opposition has been crushed. Gordianus, recently returned from Egypt with his wife Bethesda, is essentially retired from his previous profession of ‘Finder’ but even he cannot refuse the call of Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife. Troubled by dreams foretelling disaster and fearing a conspiracy against the life of Caesar, she had hired someone to investigate the rumors.

The next stories are part of the Ancient Rome prequel series.

  1. The Seven Wonders (2012) – The year is 92BC and Gordianus has just turned eighteen and is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: a far-flung journey to see the Seven Wonders of the World. Gordianus is not yet called ‘The Finder’ – that title belongs to his father, who we meet in these pages. But at each of the Seven Wonders, the wide-eyed Roman encounters a mystery to challenge his powers of deduction. Here is a portrait of a master sleuth in the making, the earliest exploits of the man who will become the most sought-after investigator in Rome. 
  2. Ill Seen in Tyre” (2014) – A short stories collected in the anthology Rogues.
  3. Raiders of the Nile (2014) – Gordianus is now twenty-two years old and living in Alexandria with Bethesda, scraping by in modest and haphazard fashion. But then Bethesda is kidnapped by mistake. With few resources available to him, Gordianus has to find the people who kidnapped her and get her back – before they realise they have the wrong woman and dispose of her for good. A raid on the golden tomb of Alexander the Great, a semi-shady troupe of travelling performers, highwaymen, amorous innkeepers, the politics of the pharaohs, smugglers, camels and an adventure up the Nile all combine to make this a rescue mission neither Gordianus – or Bethesda – will ever forget.
  • Wrath of the Furies (2015) – In 88 B.C., it seems as if the entire ancient world is at war. In the west, the Italian states are rebelling against Rome; in the east, Mithridates is marching through and conquering the Roman Asian provinces. Even in the relatively calm Alexandria, a coup has brought a new Pharaoh to power and chaos to the streets. The young Gordianus has been waiting out the chaos in Alexandria, with Bethesda, when he gets a cryptic message from his former tutor and friend, Antipater. Now in Ephesus, as part of Mithridates’ entourage, Antipater seems to think that his life is in imminent danger. To rescue him, Gordianus concocts a daring, even foolhardy, scheme to go “behind enemy lines” and bring Antipater to safety. 

  1. The Throne of Caesar (2018) – Julius Caesar, appointed dictator for life by the Roman Senate, has pardoned his remaining enemies and rewarded his friends. Now Caesar is preparing to leave Rome with his legions to wage a war of conquest against the Parthian Empire. But he has a few more things to do before he goes. Gordianus the Finder, after decades of investigating crimes and murders involving the powerful, has been raised to Equestrian rank and has firmly and finally decided to retire. But on the morning of March 10th, he’s first summoned to meet with Cicero and then with Caesar himself. Both have the same request of Gordianus–keep your ear to the ground, ask around, and find out if there are any conspiracies against Caesar’s life.

Reading the Roma Sub Rosa series in Chronological Order

The Seven Wonders (2012) — set in 92-90 BC
Raiders of the Nile (2014) — set in 88 BC
Wrath of the Furies (2015) — set in 88 BC
Roman Blood (1991) — set in 80 BC
The House of the Vestals (1997) — set in 80-72 BC
A Gladiator Dies Only Once (2005) — set in 77-64 BC
Arms of Nemesis (1992) — set in 72 BC
Catilina’s Riddle (1993) — set in 63 BC
The Venus Throw (1995) — set in 56 BC
A Murder on the Appian Way (1996) — set in 52 BC
Rubicon (1999) — set in 49 BC
Last Seen in Massilia (2000) — set in 49 BC
A Mist of Prophecies (2002) — set in 48 BC
The Judgment of Caesar (2004) — set in 48 BC
The Triumph of Caesar (2008) — set in 46 BC
The Throne of Caesar (2018) — set in 44 BC

If you like the Roma Sub Rosa reading order, you may also want to see our guide to the Marcus Didius Falco series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.

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