It’s the 6th Century and the Roman Empire is expanding and looking to conquer more. Based on Procopius of Caesarea’s account of the first known case of industrial espionage, Evans’ The Charioteer has crafted an enthralling and witty novel that sustains the reader’s desire for history and entertainment.
Calliopas ‘Cal’ Porphyries is more famously known as Porphyrius the Charioteer. Cal is the greatest charioteer in the Roman Empire and is struggling to help his granddaughter repay her debts. After losing a race, he is propositioned by Narses, the Chamberlain of the palace. Narses proposes a mission to find the secrets of silk. He sends Cal, Theo (a highborn aristocrat and warrior) and Cosmas the Rat (a sailor who seems to have eyes and ears everywhere) on an arduous journey to discover the valuable asset. Setting out on the mission, the three men quickly become acquainted, and the dynamic of the group is thoroughly enjoyable. Cal brings wisdom, Theo brings strength and Cosmas delivers the humour. The way these characters work together, whether harmoniously or disharmoniously, creates a realistic and often heart-warming experience for the reader. By the end of the novel, I found myself caring a lot for the characters and their respective lives after experiencing so much together.
The three men meet a variety of people on their journey to Tashkent. The novel is fast-paced and digestible. Evans gives life to the account by Procopius of Caesarea with his compelling characters and articulate writing style.
I recommend The Charioteer to readers who enjoy both a sense of adventure and mystery.