Word to Caesar by Geoffrey Trease
1955, Hillside Education, 274 pages, softcover
Set during Imperial Rome, Paul, a young boy, flees for his life when barbarians raid the Roman camp his father commands in Northern England. Wounded, exhausted, and orphaned, he barely makes it on the last boat leaving a nearby harbor. With the help of Lucius Fabius Severus, a Roman exile, he begins a new life. Out of gratitude for Severus helping save his life, Paul wants to reinstate Severus’ good name. But he must travel the length of the Roman Empire to do so, escape the clutches of wily villains, and speak with the Emperor Hadrian. Will he be able to accomplish such an insurmountable task? Urged on by the memory of his father’s high standards of conduct, Paul does not give up hope and always seeks to perform the noble action, even if it means risking his own life.
Although the main character is a boy, girls will enjoy this fast-paced adventure as well, especially when Severus’ daughter joins in the mission to clear her father’s name. A real page-turner, both my son and I polished it off in a few days. Because of our enthusiasm, my husband read it to the rest of the children. They too clamored to read another chapter and another.
More than a thrill-a-minute story, the reader learns a bit of Ancient Roman history, putting on flesh to those crumbing ruins. While the characters (except for Hadrian) are fictitious, the places in this story are real. A tourist can visit the remains of the Roman camp of Hardknot, as well as Bath and Ravenglass. In Italy, the farm in the Sabine Hills also still exists.
The book includes discussion questions and suggestions for essays. I particularly like the idea of tracing Paul’s trip from England to his final destination. This edition also includes maps, a picture of a bust of Hadrian, a picture of Hadrian’s tomb, historical notes, and a glossary with explanatory notes.
Donated by Hillside Education
Reviewed by Elizabeth Yank
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