Book Review: The Secret History of another Rome
Realest book: April 2015
First book: Excellent
Personal Quality Rating: 4
Reviewer: Yvette van Niekerk (South Africa)
The Science Fiction story foretells a future in the 2600’s. A young child named Octavian depart Table Mountain in Southern Africa to go to the new country Alexandria, his mother accompanies him on the flight. The child reaches an aged where he is permitted to change his name and he chooses to be called Ranulf. Ranulf is being trained to become the next Supreme Pontiff of the Empire of Rome at Alexandria. His teachers are called Librarian which looks a lot like priests.
The current Pontiff dies and Ranulf has to fill his shoes, the change is dramatic and it take Ranulf some time to settle into the role. He is constantly learning and he starts to investigate his predecessor Julius VII Heraclitus whom by the way was a native of “Bloemfontein”. I absolutely enjoyed this as “Bloemfontein” is a real place in Southern Africa, the Free State.
Because of Ranulfs curiosity he ventures out of the enclosed Librarian property into the city and he doesn’t realise that he has someone watching over him. Ranulf is guided by tutors and Murmur as he called him is one he like. Something interesting pops up about this character which made the story even more interesting.
Ranulf is on a quest in finding out the truth and there are secrets he starts to uncover with the help of a mysterious stranger.
Social / Historical Context:
This is a normal day-to-day life, with constant teaching and learning and the relationships that Ranulf make. The strategic way the Librarians keep Ranulf in the dark with their half-truths. The venturing out of the Library into the City and the way Ranulf discovers the Secrets.
The story hits home as I live in Southern Africa and a number of places are mentioned in the book. Which makes the story credible and interesting.
The plot thickens when the one person you don’t suspect is actually a traitor, I was so surprised. Then the dismissing of this person?
The writing style to my mind is evocation and some common place. It narrated a journey in the life of a young man being taught to life according to a set thinking. The writers to my thinking are someone set on learning.
The writer’s view of the years to come was interesting and made me think that everything was formal and unsent. When the immortal spoke to Ranulf ‘You do not know who we are, yet you deal with us, trust us.’ It made me think people believe whatever they see. If you don’t question you won’t know.
I enjoyed the story and feel it was a good read, I love reading of the places referred to in the book and it sounds believable. I enjoyed the teachers (Librarians) they were wise and never got on my nerves. The story revolves around a young man being groomed for a really important position. Ranulf’s Tutoring and learning; all the interesting events that happen in his life. The loss of his mother and the secrets that is unsolved. I like the immortals that spoke to him on occasion in the Great Hall, how they reminded him to relax and still. Ranulf revisited his past on many occasions and the story get really good near the end.
The young child Octavian whom changes his name to Ranulf becomes Supreme Pontiff of the Empire of Rome at Alexandria in the mid 2600’s. The Librarians who teach and tutor him, after twenty some years on the throne Ranulf starts to think back on his life. He reminisced about his mother and there time together and how he made decisions. He thinks of his relationships with some of the people. To my thinking he was in search of the truth and the Secret History which finally become clear near the end. The mysterious strangers or the Immortals that he encounters and how he finally gets to uncover the Secret.