“Rubies of the Viper is a gripping mystery set in first century Rome during the reigns of the Emperors Claudius and Nero. If you’re looking for a real page turner – the kind of book that stays in your thoughts the entire day until you can open it up and read again, then this is the book for you. It’s got compelling characters who are unpredictable and fascinating; beautiful descriptions to make ancient Rome come alive; plenty of conflict with unpredictable twists and turns; and an incredible storyline.
Theodosia Varro leaves the slums of Rome to claim the vast fortune and a fabulous villa she has inherited from her unscrupulous, villainous brother who was murdered by persons unknown. Young and unmarried, Theodosia soon finds herself the love interest of several men, all eager to get a hold of her vast inheritance. She is warned to beware of slaves, friends, and patrician nobles – all who may have had something to do with her brother’s murder. And if her brother is murdered, then she may also become prey for the same reasons. Vulnerable, Theodosia must weave through a murky world filled with scrupulous and unscrupulous persons whose motives are all suspect. The novel’s title stems from a beautiful set of goblets in Theodosia’s villa that are embossed with a snake with ruby eyes. These goblets hold a great secret.
Rubies of the Viper is a wonderfully complex, opulent story! The plot us lush, the characters intriguing, and the mystery gripping. Get this book! Get it now! It’s more than worth it.
“I wasn't too sure I'd want to read this, but curiosity got the better of me and I have to say, I really enjoyed reading about the Roman empire era, kind of a mystery as well as some romance and I couldn't put it down. ”Sandee63 wrote this review Monday, January 21, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“In a Rome shortly set to fall under the infamous Nero's rule, Theodosia Varro has come into an fortuitous inheritance. All is not as it seems, however, as her good luck came at the cost of her half-brother's murder. Caught up in social intrigue and the struggles of a wealthy woman without any real male support, she soon learns the true value of life and freedom.
The story starts out with an interesting, if improbable, premise: a man is murdered, and somehow his estranged half-sister is able to take control of one of the wealthiest estates in the Roman Empire. The reader is then introduced to several other players, some more palatable than others. Motivations and personal relationships abound. As a "whodunnit," this could have been a highly entertaining, mind-bending set-up. Unfortunately, however, characters are painted in either one shade (e.g. Dionysian hedonist) or all the colors of the visible spectrum, creating people who cannot seem to decide on their own personalities, let alone reveal them to readers. The most glaring example of the latter is Theodosia herself, whose fickle and fleeting thought patterns make it difficult to discern any salient traits beyond her frustrating obstinacy.
With that said, Alexander proves to be a more interesting protagonist, and the separate storyline he is given remains the most natural part of the entire book. His experience is easily accessible on an emotional level, while the events themselves unfold as all scenes in a story should: smoothly. This interlude, however brief, shows that the author is a capable writer. Perhaps if the third of the novel devoted to Theodosia's romantic quandaries were removed in favor of more of this sort of plot development, the book would feel more like a cohesive, fascinating whole. As it stands, the strongest feature of this work is the writing itself.
The author's descriptions of surroundings and sumptuous splendor render her imagined environs rather easy to visualize. Her writing style is distinct: slightly stilted, but in a consistent manner to which one quickly adapts. Aside from a few anachronistic word choices, and a surfeit of ellipses, the language of the novel easily fades into the background in favor of the scenes it is meant to communicate. Any struggles that I had to refrain from skimming were due to the storyline itself, rather than its mode of conveyance.
For those who prefer stories that are more episodic in nature, Rubies of the Viper may very well be a good fit. Others, like myself, may find that it tastes more like someone else's cup of tea.
(Review copy provided by the author)”
“2009...library NO”Care B wrote this review Monday, January 17, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“In 53 AD, the property of wealthy Roman women was controlled by their husbands . . . fathers . . . brothers. They had no independence at all. But what might happen if the only surviving member of a patrician family was an unmarried female, and half Greek as well? This book is about such a young woman.
The strong-willed, impetuous Theodosia creates many of her own problems, but she faces them with courage and resilience, and I had to admire her spunk.
Full of action, plot twists and romance, it gripped me to the very end. The author has studied the era well, and recreates Ancient Rome and beyond with authenticity in a book full of strong characters and vivid settings, from palaces to prisons. Romance? Of course. I did say she was impetuous.
And who killed her brother Gaius? . . . and why should she care? ”
“Really got into the story but the ending seemed too abrupt. I enjoyed the book enough that I read in in 2 days though!”Bookwizard wrote this review Monday, January 10, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Rubies of the Viper is a fast-paced, suspenseful and romantic historical novel by Martha Marks, and a totally satisfying read. Set primarily in Rome at the time of Emperor Nero, Rubies of the Viper tells the story of Theodosia, a young single woman without family to guide or protect her when she suddenly inherits her family fortune at the death of her half-brother. The mystery surrounding that brother’s death, the confusion of competing suitors, the secrets surrounding her own background, the machinations of unknown enemies, and her conflicted relationship with her household slaves keep Theodosia off balance and in danger throughout the book. I loved how Marks accurately recreated the past, portraying the complicated social, economic, and political relationships of the Roman Empire through the relationships of the characters, while making me see, and smell, and feel the urban bustle of the metropolis and the cool luxury of a villa. However, my favorite element in the book is how Marks not only fully realized her main protagonist, Theodosia, but her development of the secondary protagonist, Alexander, a Greek slave. I learned to love these two characters, care about their futures, and look forward to seeing them in future novels. Buy this book, you will not be disappointed!
M. Louisa Locke, author of Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery