I picked up a freebie Historical Fiction and am now about half way through. The only reason I can see that I am continuing is to see how (or why) one of the main characters died in disgrace.
Regarding Tiberius by by Helena Mithridates Kleopatra and Bartholomew Boge. The author claims this book is written using sketchy and fragmented historical data, some actually written by HMK. I hope the author has listed some sources at the end of the book because a cursory Google search indicates several things. The first is that there was a Cleopatra the Younger (from Mithridates sixth wife), although no info about her was given. While some survived because they were elsewhere or not immediate family, those captured with the king were executed. I assume, unless I find otherwise, that Cleo the Younger was among them.Second, Metellus Scipio did have a son, but he appears to have died at around age 18 (of what I don't know yet). He may or may not have had another son, or have adopted one, but that is also unverified. The book is wrapped around several people who may or may not have survived, let alone meet. Being fiction, is can go along with the premise for the story's sake that they did survive and did meet. But....
Right off the batt the book annoyed in several ways. How a lowly soldier could persuade his superiors not to crucify the daughter of Mithridates VI along with the rest of the royal family is beyond me since the Romans were hell-bent on destroying the whole bloodline and not executing Cleo as well went against direct orders. Also, the story is being told in a long journal written to her father-in-law of her life before Tiberius, the history of their life together, and how and why he met his end. It was written while she prepared his body for mummification (which takes more than a month) for shipment back to Rome. I don't really think anyone would include in such a detailed account her efforts to avenge her family's death, unbeknownst to Tiberius, and other secretive and intimate details. How does that help in her efforts to gain support for her and her child with an admission that she hated the Romans for killing her family (and one in particular), sought vengeance, and still carried a bloodline that the Roman authorities wanted extinct? I'd say there are some gaps in plausibility in this book that I am trying to overlook.
One thing I did verify, and did not know, is that Strabo was related to the Mithridates clan on his mother's side.
Oh, here is another puzzler about Regarding Tiberius. This part of the Amazon blurb about the book
Regarding Tiberius is the novelization of a series of ancient scrolls recently discovered in the ruins of famed Roman commander Scipio Africanus' seaside villa (near Naples, Italy). Written in the First Century by a young woman of Persian and Ethiopian ancestry, Helena Mithridates Kleopatra, they comprise an account of how her life and destiny were forever altered by her chance meeting with Tiberius, the son of a prominent Roman senator. The book is not set in Africanus' time, but in Metellus Scipio's time; Pontius Pilate features in the book. So, did his decendent, Metellus, also reside at the villa at some point? Must have, if the papers were supposedly written in the 1st century. Pointing Africanus out is somewhat deceptive, then. Does this account actually exist or is it another bit of marketing? More digging to follow.
BTW, I think this book feels like a Greek Tragedy. I found Boge's blog and he says
he originally came up with the concept for a rock opera, but then it got "reborn" first as a stage play, then a screenplay, and finally a novel. Boge is a Christian singer/songwriter; this is his first novel. He does have a few references back in the Acknowlegement pages, but not many. May be worth a read (it is free on Kindle) if you like Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction (half way through, no Christians yet) of that era.
This is Bart Boge, author of Regarding Tiberius
. I think it is safe to say that you have read my novel more closely than any other person I am aware of, and for that I am honored and grateful.
I hope you found that at least a few of the issues that initially caused you to lose the willing suspension of disbelief were explained as the story concluded. The agency of a lone centurion countermanding an execution order might be a stretch for those who understand Roman military discipline, but I do give a reason as to how Tiberius orchestrated the incident.
As far as Helena's level of detail is concerned, by the end I hope this made more sense as well. The book's initial thesis (Scroll I) was that her account was to be an apologetic defense of Tiberius, but as she wrote it the narrative took on a confessional tone, particularly at the end (for obvious reasons--avoiding spoilers).
The seaside villa was constructed by Scipio Africanus hundreds of years before my story's occupant, Senator Lucius Corneilius Scipio, took up residence in it. I made no attempt to flesh out the line of ownership succession from Africanus to Lucius, as it really wasn't crucial to my story.
Some of the "gaps of plausibility" you cite are indelible parts of Helena's conflicted character. In earlier versions of this tale, Tiberius was the focus of the narrative and Helena was a minor character. I soon discovered that once she entered any scene, Helena's character "stole" the stage from all others. Romantic love, maternal love, and honor-bound vengeance percolated in her soul in compelling ways. I had no choice but to make HER the subject of the tale rather than him, and the only way I could do that without changing the plot was to have Helena narrate. Once I made that leap, the entire tale improved dramatically.
I am VERY interested to read your reflections upon finishing the book (if you were able to). Did some of the issues that puzzled/irritated you improve in the light of new contexts, or did I still fail to get you to fully "buy-in" to the story upon its conclusion? My editor is currently putting together an accompanying study guide for use with reading clubs/small group use, and any additional comments, opinions, or constructive criticism you would be willing to offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you again for not giving up on the book when you first identified issues that gave you pause. I hope you were able to stomach the rest of the read in order to see the story through to the end. Your attending research has been enlightening to me.
P.S.: Odd coincidence: your original posts on this topic occurred on my 50th birthday, June 15, 2016.