The Secret History of Another Rome
The Secret History of Another Rome by is one of the most interesting books I’ve read lately. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where years are counted with the letters ACE (for After the Common Era), it follows Ranulf, born Octavian and called Alexandros XI Heraclitus by his people. Ranulf is the Supreme Pontiff of the Empire of Rome, which has been reestablished following the fall of the modern world. It is one of several different countries, though arguably the most powerful, and run not only by the Supreme Pontiff but also by a group of men called Librarians, who are tasked with holding the knowledge of the Empire and with protecting the Secret History, which is the story of what actually happened after the end of the Common Era. Ranulf must negotiate not only the difficulties of running a state but also the difficulties of trying to change that state when faced with a very conservative opposing force.
The book paints a remarkable picture of a future that could be, building up a fascinating world. While we don’t get a full picture of what this world looks like, I hardly minded that at all. In fact, I was all the more intrigued by the fact that we only saw it through Ranulf’s eyes, because Ranulf was such an excellent viewpoint for this world. The book spans the majority of his life, and so we have a chance to see him learn about this world and develop his own opinions about it as he tries to bring about change.
What I found most interesting about the book, though, was how it treated time. The author skips about through Ranulf’s life; at one moment he is a middle-aged man, and the next he is a boy barely reaching adolescence. It makes for a slightly difficult story to follow at first, but you should definitely stick with it. The book is well worth whatever initial confusion you might face, and I’d highly recommend it.
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