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Publisher's Summary

Blackmail, corruption, treachery, murder - the glory that was Rome.

In this Edgar Award-nominated mystery, John Maddox Roberts takes listeners back to a Rome filled with violence and evil. Vicious gangs ruled the streets of Crassus and Pompey, routinely preying on plebeian and patrician alike. So the garroting of a lowly ex-slave and the disembowelment of a foreign merchant in the dangerous Subura district seemed of little consequence to the Roman hierarchy. But Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger, highborn commander of the local vigiles, was determined to investigate. Despite official apathy, brazen bribes, and sinister threats, Decius uncovers a world of corruption at the highest levels of his government that threatens to destroy him and the government he serves.

©2007 John Maddox Roberts (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The King’s Gambit

Average Customer Ratings
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Great start to a series

This is the first book I tried in the series and it is a great Sherlock Holmes style detective story - there's a young man from a noble family charged with clearing up crime in a district of ancient Rome, a Greek physician who helps him, dark conspiracy in high places, etc. You get the idea. And you are not sure exactly how it will turn out till the very last page.

16 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Falco comparison inevitable

Here goes...

If you've read those, this one is more hard-boiled, less snarky; although, Decimus isn't bad with apt commentary. Technology hadn't changed that much in the century between the series, so day to day life remained pretty similar.

Pirates feature in this story, which I don't recall much in Falco's travels, with one exception and that I recall more as smuggling. I'm a fan of the sidekick Milo, as well as being drawn by John Lee's narration.

12 people found this helpful

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Excellent performance King’s Gambit

Historical fiction and intrigue! John Lee is one of my favorite narrators always makes listening a delight!

4 people found this helpful

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like a Cadfael story

I enjoyed both the book and the performance very much! John Lee is just tremendous. I recommend his work on the Priest of Bones series. Robert's command of the ancient Roman culture and nomenclature is a real treat!

4 people found this helpful

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A confused, pretentious book.

Free wouldn't cut it to get me to read another by this author. I'd have to be paid quite a bit. Too many better choices in the world.

3 people found this helpful

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too wordy

author spend too much time describing rome and not enough developing plot. way too wordy!

3 people found this helpful

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Well done indeed

After a few dozen pages or the readers fine work it occurred to me that I had no knowledge of civilian police work within the Roman Empire. All I knew, and I knew damn little, was of the military cohorts and military/political leadership of Rome. This was a interesting look at the civilian police work done against the backdrop of political rivalry. There were only a handful of Latin words used to deftly to season the story line.
I enjoyed and recommend to any one good story. Good reader and overall good.

2 people found this helpful

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A fantastic series!

I stumbled upon this series recently, and have since listened to the first ten books. All have been excellent, both in quality of story and performance. Each offers a more nuanced view of the great historical figures, as well as glimpses of what life was like for more ordinary people of the time.

1 person found this helpful

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The SPQR Series is Brilliant

This is the first book in the brilliant SPQR series, narrated in the first person by John Lee. This series follows a fictional character,Decius Caecilius Metellus, who is living in Rome during the declining years of the Republic. There are about 14 or 15 novels in this linear series, and I loved every one of them. While sticking to the factual history, we follow Metellus from his youth to his marriage to Julia, a relative of Caesar, and on through his career and his many adventures along the way. We meet Pompey, Caesar, and many other historical persons, as well as hilarious fictional charterers, like his cheeky servant and very stern father. I often found myself laughing out loud at Metellus's ironic comments. Both the author and the reader are wonderful. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Freaking Excellent,!

Excellent story and narration. Would recommend this to my friends and family. read it, y'all.

1 person found this helpful

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  • track66
  • 10-09-21

No Falco, this.

Dreadful mannered delivery with weird cadence. The story may be good - I will never know, I couldn't bear any more after the first three chapters.

The writing is clunky and self-aware, particularly if you are a fan of Lindsay Davis'work, with plot props thrown in before there is properly a plot.

Free or not I couldn't recommend this.

4 people found this helpful

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  • fivelampboy
  • 03-12-22

couldn't finish

couldn't finish, but then I couldn't hardly say I atarted. very odd tone of narrative that I couldn't endure

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-07-21

Not good

Ruined by verry odd robotic narration. . Couldn't listen to it. which is a first.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Louis
  • 04-05-22

Could have been good

I found this an interesting and educative story. However, it’s undermining by the Vaudevillian narration.

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  • Janine
  • 02-27-22

Mispronounced Roman fun!

Very enjoyable! John Lee is, as usual, magnificent.

My sole gripe is that the Latin is mispronounced. It could presumably have been easy to get right. A Decius person is very different to a Dekius person.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-03-21

Underwhelming Roman novel, poor narration & plot

Narration dreadful. Completely wrong for the story.
Plot very pedestrian, with little imagination or flair.

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  • Mr B G Bowers
  • 10-30-21

Brilliant

I have listened to the whole series at least 3 times, I love the stories and the characters portrayed!!!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-31-21

Good fun and lots of great historical detail

I enjoyed this novel - but agree with others who say this is not the best of the series. Some of the attitudes didn't seem consistent with Roman attitudes (e.g. Decius being willing to risk his life to investigate the murder of foreigners). But, that aside, the book was a lot of fun and was full of interesting and accurate information about life in Ancient Rome - and I am keen to read more.
Unfortunately, I was not enamoured of John Lee's narration. It seemed rather stilted and affected.