Cover image for A song for Nero
A song for Nero
Holt, Tom, 1961-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Abacus, 2004.

Physical Description:
569 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London: Little, Brown, 2003.
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History tells us that in 69 AD, Nero fled his palace in Rome, stabbed himself in the throat with a pen, and was trampled to death by horses in a muddy ditch. But here's another possibility: Nero did not die in that ditch, but somebody who looked very much like him did. This gives Nero the opportunity to start a new life in pursuit of his first love--music. But Nero is being pursued by two people who have reason to suspect he is still alive--one wants him dead, the other is a passionate fan of his dreadful music and wants his genius recognized.

Author Notes

Tom Holt is the author of such comic fantasy classics as WHO'S AFRAID OF BEOWULF?, EXPECTING SOMEONE TALLER and OVERTIME, and of historical fiction, including THE WALLED ORCHARD and ALEXANDER AT THE WORLD'S END.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Holt may be the Mel Brooks of historical fiction--funny and smart with a solid base of fact and philosophy. In fact, a younger, scrawnier Brooks could be cast as Galen the Athenian, the narrator of this book, which suggests it was not Nero who died in the 69 C.E. uprising in Rome, as history states, but his look-alike, Callistus, Galen's brother, who sacrifices himself for his beloved friend. So Galen--a thief with a face variously described as resembling a ferret, weasel, or rat--feels an obligation to his brother's memory to help the less-than-street-smart emperor, and the pair spends a decade committing petty crimes to make ends meet, landing in prison and peril and narrowly avoiding death. But as Nero's identity is uncovered, he is prey both for past deeds and for knowing where to find a legendary treasure that he has nearly forgotten. Holt presents theories of Seneca along with some vivid mayhem and murder, but it's his nonstop wit, threaded with homespun discourse and a sobering final turn, that makes this an unparalled treat. --Michele Leber Copyright 2004 Booklist