Roma Eterna

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"What if the Empire never crumbled - and the Eternal City reigned supreme for thousands of years?" "No power on Earth can resist the might of Imperial Rome, so has it been and so it ever shall be. Through brute force, terror, and sheer indomitable will, her armies have enslaved a world, crushing all who would oppose her in her divine mission of total domination. From the reign of Maximilianus the Great in A.U.C. 1203 onward, Rome thrives through the myriad bloody intrigues and corrupt sovereignties that would doom a lesser state. Upstarts and
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Overview

"What if the Empire never crumbled - and the Eternal City reigned supreme for thousands of years?" "No power on Earth can resist the might of Imperial Rome, so has it been and so it ever shall be. Through brute force, terror, and sheer indomitable will, her armies have enslaved a world, crushing all who would oppose her in her divine mission of total domination. From the reign of Maximilianus the Great in A.U.C. 1203 onward, Rome thrives through the myriad bloody intrigues and corrupt sovereignties that would doom a lesser state. Upstarts and enemies arise and fall, ground beneath merciless Roman boot heels; the prophet Mohammad murdered before his influence can take root; the Mayans in Mexico cruelly subjugated by the invading hordes of the Emperor Trajan VII on their first voyage of circumnavigation." "So it is and so it ever shall be - into a new age of scientific advancement and astounding technologies." Throughout the many centuries of Roman rule, one people have suffered and bled...and endured. In the year A.U.C. 2723, at last a faint hope has been born with the advent of a miraculous new industry. For an intrepid band of those who are called Hebrews, the day is coming when the heavens themselves will be opened to them, and escape from Rome's eternal oppression may finally be possible - as the ships are prepared in secret that will carry the enslaved on their "Great Exodus" to the stars.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In Robert Silverberg's alternate history Roma Eterna, Moses failed to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt as written in the Book of Exodus. Since the Jews never made it to Palestine, Jesus of Nazareth didn't exist and Christianity never developed. The Great Roman Empire never fell; in fact, it continued to expand until its glorious decadence spanned the entire world.

Although Silverberg has been writing Roma Eterna stories since the late 1980s, this is the first time that all the short stories and novelettes have been gathered together to form a huge epic history that spans 15 centuries. Much of the book consists of previously unpublished works, however, and will surely surprise and delight even longtime fans of Silverberg's alternate Rome. The beautiful and brutal Empire is seen through the eyes of a diverse group of people throughout its vast history -- from a soldier seeing the New World for the first time to a British aristocrat witnessing firsthand the slaughter of an entire royal bloodline, from a child stumbling across a long-lost emperor living the life of a recluse to a modern-day Hebrew seeking asylum from Roman oppression.

After almost five decades of writing numerous Hugo and Nebula Award–winning stories, Robert Silverberg still surprises me with his never-ending creativity. With more than 100 novels and countless short stories and novellas to his credit, Silverberg remains one of the sharpest and most ambitious writers in the genre. Roma Eterna is yet another indication that Silverberg has yet to reach the apex of his craft. Paul Goat Allen

The New York Times
Robert Silverberg has been a major force in science fiction for 50 years. No matter what story he tells, his authorial voice is always recognizable: literate, lucid, calm to the point of detachment, a touch world-weary. In Roma Eterna he has found a subject well suited to his gifts: a what-if history of the world, starting from the premise that the Roman Empire never fell. — Gerald Jonas
Publishers Weekly
In Hugo and Nebula winner Silverberg's epic alternative history, as grandly sweeping and imaginative as his celebrated Majipoor Cycle (Lord Valentine's Castle, etc.), the imperial Eternal City (aka Roma) takes 2,000 years to decline but not quite fall. Starting with a scholar's recollection of a failed Hebrew exodus from Egypt centuries earlier, this unusually moving novel depicts 10 crucial historical moments, each centering on the personality of a fictional emperor seen through the eyes of an engaging lesser figure, like an imperial bureaucrat, a luscious and wealthy widow, a brave legionary commander, a conscientious architect, a hunky son of a Celtic chieftain, or even barbarian children who unwittingly bring down the last emperor. Silverberg seamlessly interpolates glimpses of Rome's real history in this handsomely crafted fiction, whether looking back to the ideals of the ancient Republic-duty, honor, country-or inventing a captivating cast of might-have-beens. He unifies his narrative with unusual but convincing historical theory: that Roma's vaunted religious tolerance, in turning the sacred into a mere instrument of governance, had sown the seeds of revolution-a spiritual and intellectual upheaval that here leads the children of Israel to a second and glorious trek to the stars. Guided by the sure hand of an old master, these many roads lead to a fascinating city of multitudinous souls. (June 4) FYI: Some of the sections were published separately in somewhat different form, starting in 1989. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
From Rome's absorption of the barbarian lands around it to the exploration of the New World and the conquest of the Mayan Empire, Silverberg's latest tale chronicles the rise of the Eternal City to the peak of world rulership. Eleven connected stories (some of which have been published previously in different forms) depict various stages of Roman history, spanning more than 1,500 years and covering periods of civil war, dictatorship, persecution and republic, ending with the desperate attempt of a small band of Hebrews to flee to the stars and gain their freedom. Silverberg's (The Majipoor Chronicles) always elegant storytelling and vast comprehension of history combine in this outstanding work of alternate history that belongs in most libraries Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From the veteran author/editor (The Longest Way Home, 2002, etc.), a fix-up consisting of ten stories, 1989-2003, some of which have appeared before in somewhat different form, whose premise is a highly familiar one: What if the Roman Empire never fell? Silverberg's crucial divergence point is the Exodus: here, Moses failed, the Hebrews were re-enslaved, Israel never arose, neither did Christianity, and still-pagan Rome defeated its barbarian foes. By the equivalent of a.d. 450, the Eastern Empire under Justinianus at Constantinople is strong, while the Western Empire is weak and again beset by barbarians. Silverberg replays the stock Shakespearean tale of Falstaff and Prince Hal: suddenly, both the emperor and his heir die, the once-dissolute Prince Maximilianus spurns Faustus, his old companion-in-iniquity, and assumes Caesar's mantle. Less than a century later, Corbulo, exiled to Mecca for offending Caesar, arranges the assassination of the prophet Mohammed. In other episodes, the Mayans rebuff an attempted Roman invasion; the Byzantine Empire attacks and defeats Rome-temporarily; a Roman emperor recapitulates a brutal Spanish voyage of conquest across the Pacific; mad emperors come and go, threatening but never quite toppling the Imperium, as do wars of secession and reunion. Finally, the Republic is bloodily restored, but Rome continues; and a small band of militant Jews attempts to build a starship and found an Israel far off in space. Works better as individual stories, where Silverberg can bring his scholarship to bear, than as a quasi-novel whose overall justification grows steadily more improbable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380978595
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/27/2003
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Silverberg has won five Nebula Awards, four Hugo Awards, and the prestigious Prix Apollo. He is the author of more than one hundred science fiction and fantasy novels -- including the best-selling Lord Valentine trilogy and the classics Dying Inside and A Time of Changes -- and more than sixty nonfiction works. Among the sixty-plus anthologies he has edited are Legends and Far Horizons, which contain original short stories set in the most popular universe of Robert Jordan, Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear, Orson Scott Card, and virtually every other bestselling fantasy and SF writer today. Mr. Silverberg's Majipoor Cycle, set on perhaps the grandest and greatest world ever imagined, is considered one of the jewels in the crown of speculative fiction.

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First Chapter

Roma Eterna

Chapter One

A.U.C. 1282: With Caesar In the Underworld

The newly arrived ambassador from the Eastern Emperor was rather younger than Faustus had expected him to be: a smallish sort, finely built, quite handsome in what was almost a girlish kind of way, though obviously very capable and sharp, a man who would bear close watching. There was something a bit frightening about him, though not at first glance. He gleamed with the imperviousness of fine armor. His air of sophisticated and fastidious languor coupled with hidden strength made Faustus, a tall, robust, florid-faced man going thick through the waist and thin about the scalp, feel positively plebeian and coarse despite his own lofty and significant ancestry.

That morning Faustus, whose task as an official of the Chancellery it was to greet all such important visitors to the capital city, had gone out to Ostia to meet him at the Imperial pier -- the Greek envoy, coming west by way of Sicilia, had sailed up the coast from Neapolis in the south -- and had escorted him to the rooms in the old Severan Palace where the occasional ambassadors from the eastern half of the Empire were housed. Now it was the time to begin establishing a little rapport. They faced each other across an onyx-slab table in the Lesser Hall of Columns, which several reigns ago had been transformed into a somewhat oversized sitting-room. A certain amount of preliminary social chatter was required at this point. Faustus called for some wine, one of the big, elegant wines from the great vineyards of Gallia Transalpina.

After they had had a chance to savor it for a little while he said, wanting to get the ticklish part of the situation out in the open right away, "The prince Heraclius himself, unfortunately, has been called without warning to the northern frontier. Therefore tonight's dinner has been canceled. This will be a free evening for you, then, an evening for resting after your long journey. I trust that that'll be acceptable to you."

"Ah," said the Greek, and his lips tightened for an instant. Plainly he was a little bewildered at being left on his own like this, his first evening in Roma. He studied his perfectly manicured fingers. When he glanced up again, there was a gleam of concern in the dark eyes. "I won't be seeing the Emperor either, then?"

"The Emperor is in very poor health. He will not be able to see you tonight and perhaps not for several days. The prince Heraclius has taken over many of his responsibilities. But in the prince's unexpected and unavoidable absence your host and companion for your first few days in Roma will be his younger brother Maximilianus. You will, I know, find him amusing and very charming, my lord Menandros."

"Unlike his brother, I gather," said the Greek ambassador coolly.

Only too true, Faustus thought. But it was a remarkably blunt thing to say. Faustus searched for the motive behind the little man's words. Menandros had come here, after all, to negotiate a marriage between his royal master's sister and the very prince of whom he had just spoken so slightingly. When a diplomat as polished as this finely oiled Greek says something as egregiously undiplomatic as that, there was usually a good reason for it. Perhaps, Faustus supposed, Menandros was simply showing annoyance at the fact that Prince Heraclius had tactlessly managed not to be on hand to welcome him upon his entry into Roma.

Faustus was not going to let himself be drawn any deeper into comparisons, though. He allowed himself only an oblique smile, that faint sidewise smile he had learned from his young friend the Caesar Maximilianus. "The two brothers are quite different in personality, that I do concede. -- Will you have more wine, your excellence?"

That brought yet another shift of tone. "Ah, no formalities, no formalities, I pray you. Let us be friends, you and I." And then, leaning forward cozily and shifting from the formal to the intimate form of speech: "You must call me Menandros. I will call you Faustus. Eh, my friend? -- And yes, more wine, by all means. What excellent stuff! We have nothing that can match it in Constantinopolis. What sort is it, actually?"

Faustus flicked a glance at one of the waiting servitors, who quickly refilled the bowls. "A wine from Gallia," he said. "I forget the name." A swift flash of unmistakable displeasure, quickly concealed but not quickly enough, crossed the Greek's face. To be caught praising a provincial wine so highly must have embarrassed him. But embarrassing him had not been Faustus's intention. There was nothing to be gained by creating discomfort for so powerful and potentially valuable a personage as the lord of the East's ambassador to the Western court.

This was all getting worse and worse. Hastily Faustus set about smoothing the awkwardness over. "The heart of our production lies in Gallia, now. The Emperor's cellars contain scarcely any Italian wines at all, they tell me. Scarcely any! These Gallian reds are His Imperial Majesty's preference by far, I assure you."

"While I am here I must acquire some, then, for the cellars of His Majesty Justinianus," said Menandros.

They drank a moment in silence. Faustus felt as though he were dancing on swords.

"This is, I understand, your first visit to Urbs Roma?" Faustus asked, when the silence had gone on just a trifle too long. He took care to use the familiar form, too, now that Menandros had started it.

"My first, yes. Most of my career has been spent in Aegyptus and Syria."

Faustus wondered how extensive that career could have been. This Menandros seemed to be no more than twenty-five or so, thirty at the utmost ...

Roma Eterna. Copyright © by Robert Silverberg. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Plague

    *she yawns, setting stuff on her bunk.*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    Praetors cabin

    K

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    Roma

    Interesting alternative history "fix-up" novel about a Roman empire without the influence of Christianity. The premises of most of stories are solid, but the stories are marred by frequent "word spinning". Worth reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    Good stories, excellent writing, but not original

    Silverberg is a very good writer, and he presents both familiar (Falstaff from Henry IV, the Reign of Terror, the Romanovs) and new stories (the exiled Roman courtier in Mecca) in a decently-crafted alternate world. While the characters and plots are believable and occasionally touching, their premises just aren't that great. I mean, the whole Exodus thing is a bit of a stretch, and really should have been developed further before the last story. Despite these flaws, the book is a smooth and satisfying read, but in a more literary than alternate history fashion.

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  • Posted June 6, 2011

    I found hard keep my interest

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2007

    AWESOME!!!

    sounds good!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2004

    Roma ho hum

    Although I found the concept of an eternal rome facinating, this book fails to deleiver on its promise. In the 2500 years of rome's rule not one change occurs. All the stories except one could have been set in 300 AD, and in that one changing rocket to big boat would have brought it back to 300 AD. If you are a fan of Alt history do not read this

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2003

    It makes more sense as a collection than a novel

    I found this book disappointing, but reading the other reviews on this site makes me realize that this is a collection rather than one continuous story. While reading it, I thought it jumped around too much for me to hold onto names and dates. While I enjoyed the idea of the alternative history with Rome as the supreme superpower in the world, I questioned some of the ideas that the author brought up, or rather other ideas that weren't brought up. I guess you can play that off as part of alternative fiction, but it just didn't fit for me. The book is a good read for those that like the 'what if' question, but as a whole, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The dust jacket referred to the Hebrews and their place in this Roman Empire, but for the first and last stories, they were almost non-existent in the stories, and the book as a whole could have done without them. An interesting read, to say the least.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    epic alternative historical novel

    The Exodus failed to take the Jews from Egypt into the Promised Land. Thus Christianity never surfaces as the Jewish people remain enslaved in Egypt. Still Rome rises to defeat the neighboring Barbarians. The rest is history (at least alternative) as key global events fostered by ROMA ETERNA starting in A.U.C. 1203 (A.D. 405 our time) into the next fifteen centuries occur as the Roman Empire ebbs and grows. <P>Robert Silverberg rewrites several of his related short stories into an epic alternative historical novel that engages the reader with intriguing theories of how much different the world would be if one pivotal event (albeit Moses leading the Jews) had a different ending. Though entertaining and easily hooking the audience, the tale still feels more like a short story collection as none of the characters (over the fifteen hundred years) feel fully developed. Still sub-genre readers will relish this fascinating saga of a seemingly eternal Roman Empire as each subsequent chapter builds off of events that chronologically (and literally) preceded it. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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