Review: The Knife of Narcissus I & II by Carolyne Chand

Lucius Sentius, along with most people in the city of Rome, assumes that the debauched and chaotic days of Nero are behind them now that Rome has settled down under a sober new ruler, Vespasian. Lucius may be only the son of a merchant, but his newly arranged marriage to an older widow will bring powerful connections and an enviable life. If he keeps himself on a respectable path.

That seems impossible when he discovers that his heart lies somewhere not at all respectable: his lifelong friend Trio, the reserved and serious son of one of the most reserved and pious families in the city.

As Lucius is pushed along the course of duty to family, to his promised spouse, and to Rome itself, he begins to see under the surface of his city, into a net of intrigues, manipulation, and corruption that can carry him upward in status and and bring him what he most wants...or destroy both him and the people he loves.

A serial novel in 7 parts.


It's intoxicating, no? I've always been fascinated by the Roman Empire. Certainly, they accomplished a lot, advanced knowledge, conquered, pillaged… they were kind of on the depraved side. God bless 'em.

Bath houses.
Dens of iniquity.

Divine, I say. Scrumptious even.

So, yeah, I like Rome and all things Roman including TV shows and movies, which is why I picked these up when they became available and I regret nothing.

Ordinarily, I'm not down with serials, but I have them all so… *shrug* However, this feels much more akin to an epic saga rather than a serial. The Knife of Narcissus' story arch will take time to develop and unfold. I envision many obstacles along the way for Lucius and Trio. 

Lucius and Trio grew up together. They think of themselves as brothers as do their families. Boys will be boys and they engaged in some exploratory behaviors growing up, but nothing all that untoward. Somewhere along the way they fell in love, but this is ancient Rome. They both have obligations to their families and those obligations have come due for Lucius.

Lucius' father has arranged a marriage to a wealthy widow, Velleia, which will both further the family business and increase their standing in the community. Lucius understands his obligations, yet he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He propositions Trio and gets rejected. Ouch. This relationship strikes me as the heart and soul of this series. Word of caution:  there are ladies in this series. It's Rome. Think decadence or Caligula, whichever you prefer.

Lucius is determined to get his man. His methods are unorthodox and some may say foolhardy, but his devotion is unwavering. Along the way he's… ah, increasing his carnal knowledge. His educational efforts are nothing short of fervent. I admire that sort of devotion all in the name of pleasing his man. In fact, he's so assiduous that he's willing to experience both ends of the spectrum, so to speak. That's dedication, my friends. Hopefully, he's efforts will not be in vain.

The writing is solid. Ms. Chand seems to really know Roman history and it shows in the details. If you're a fan of Ancient Rome, this series should appeal to you.

Stay tuned for the next episode… 

I would like to thank the author for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


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