Master and God by Lindsey Davis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There's a reason why I don't put any author's books on an "automatically buy" list. Even if I love their earlier books, I don't necessarily believe I will love their later works. Such is the case (unfortunately) for Master and God. Having enjoyed Davis' Falco detective series, I thought I'd give this story a try--and trying it was.
In the Falco series the Roman history, culture and setting are seamlessly intertwined with fascinating and sympathetic characters, but the same can't be said of this book. The first part is a head-hopping nightmare. The point of view hops from omniscient to one character to the next (even within a paragraph). Then there's a head hop to a fly on the wall. Really! Having to edit and fix head-hopping problems in my own and others' manuscripts (Yes, I'm an evil editor), I don't care to read it in a professionally published book.
The second part of the story is a bit less head-hoppy, and the lovers Flavia Lucilla and Gaius Vinius are worth cheering for, but long "telling/info dumping" passages slow up the love story and cause frustration for both the lovers and the reader alike. It seems as if Davis couldn't figure out if she wanted to write a straight history of the reign of Domitian or a love story set in Rome. I wish she would have stuck with the second choice and edited the head-hopping and info dumping.
If readers could get a feel for Rome in the Falco series without chapter upon chapter of info dumping, surely Lucilla and Vinius' love story could have been written likewise. But if you enjoy Roman history and don't mind the romantic interruptions and head-hopping, Master and God might appeal to you.