The first in a trilogy that receives rave reviews but, despite the presence of The Shrander and K-Ship captain Seria Mau Genlicher, the ever present male gaze left me a bit cold. I won’t be continuing down the wormhole to read Nova Swing or Empty Space.
I’m still willing to give Climbers a try though, if I ever find a copy in the library…
Falco and Helena head east, to the kingdom of Nabatea and the Decapolis. Officially they are searching for a missing water organ player from snake charmer Thalia’s troupe; unofficially Falco is unexpectedly and unwillingly working for Imperial spymaster, and arch enemy, Anacrites.
The unofficial mission disappears almost as soon as they get to Petra, where they stumble across a dead body and fall in with with a touring group of theatricals.
Falco’s thespian side is unleashed as he, Helena and Nabatean priest/minder Musa try to work out who the murderer is.
Falco and Helena return to Rome after their adventures in Germania, straight into the bosom of Falco’s difficult family.
An army friend of his elder brother, Festus – who died a hero’s death in the Judean War – has lodged himself in Ma’s home and proceeds to make trouble for the Didius family, and Falco in particular.
We get to meet Falco’s errant father, Geminus, too and end up spending a lot of time in the company of The Didius Boys in a plot that revolves around stolen art, Mediterranean shipping, soldiers’ pay, Greek statues and auctions.