Winner of the Portuguese Writers' Association Grand Prize for Fiction and the Pegasus Prize for Literature, and a best-seller in Portugal, Mario de Carvalho's A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening is a vivid and affecting historical novel set at the twilight of the Roman Empire and the dawn of the Christian era. Lucius Valerius Quintius is prefect of the fictitious city of Tarcisis, charged to defend it against menaces from without Moors invading the Iberian peninsula and from within the decadent complacency of the Pax Romana. Lucius's devotion to civic duty undergoes its most crucial test when Iunia Cantaber, the beautiful, charismatic leader of the outlawed Christian sect, is brought before his court. A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening is a timeless story of an era beset by radical upheaval and a man struggling to reconcile his heart, his ethics, and his civic duty.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First things first - _A God Strolling..._ was an engaging read. Previous reviewers have touched on the excellent development of setting and atmosphere, and I agree that de Carvalho pulls the reader into a colorful and complex representation of the Roman Empire at the precise moment it began to wane. The book is certainly worth reading for this reason alone, especially for those interested in historical fiction.But above all, the book is a character study; the protagonist Quintius is its focus. As a character study, the book left me wanting a bit more - it's not the study of a strong and inspiring character as the other reviews here suggest. The N.Y. Times review above focuses on his "moral code, as well as a provocative meditation on the difficulty of leading a virtuous life in as era of tumultuous change." Quintius is a reluctant magistrate, forced into the seat of power by lazy demagogues who would rather not be burdened with responsibility. And though Quintius holds steadfastly to his perception of duty as a Roman citizen, his perception is out of step with the society around him. Rather than drawing strength from his convictions and being a strong ruler, he seems buffeted by the sea of events around him: political rivals, threats from without, the emerging Christian faith within his city, and a strange obsession with a female, Iunia.In short this is not an inspiring story of the triumph of a moral soul, but a study of the torture of seeing things differently than the masses. If this was the author's desired effect, then the book is an unqualified success. However, I thought some of the tools used in reaching this end were under-developed. Quintius' obsession with Iunia drives the novel near the end, and I never understood the motivation for this relationship (admittedly, I guess neither did Quintius...). And ultimately, I hoped to see a development or substantial change in the protagonist in the end, and found little.Readers who enjoy Jose Saramago will likely find de Carvalho interesting. I enjoyed reading the book. I don't know if I _liked_ the book. If you crave historical ambiance, or generating feelings of uneasiness in yourself, you will enjoy reading the book. I'm not sure if you'll _like_ it either, though...
This book was an excellent look at the twilight of the Roman Empire. The protagonist is the goverment magistrate of Tarsisis and is forced to make some difficult decisions about people he cares for. The book discusses the rising populatity of the Christian sect and their persecutions. The book is in flashback form which works well in this story. I couldn't put it down.