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Bruce Macbain has a master’s degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. As an assistant professor of Classics, he taught courses in Late Antiquity and Roman religion and published a few impenetrable scholarly monographs, which almost no one read. He eventually left academe and turned to teaching English as a second language, a field he was trained in while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo in the 60s. Macbain is the author of historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, (Roman Games, 2010, and The Bull Slayer, 2013, both published by Poisoned Pen Press) featuring Pliny the Younger as his protagonist. Odin’s Child and Ice Queen are the first and second books in his Viking series, Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga.
Praise for Odin’s Child:
“Though much has changed in Iceland with the coming of the men who favor the White Christ over the old gods, and though the heralded days of the seaborne Vikings are in their twilight, the ancient custom of the blood feud is alive and well. Odd Tangle-Hair, the youngest son of an ostracized godi, a priest of Odin, finds himself and his family in the thick of one when he and his brother seek vengeance upon a neighbor. When the bloodshed doesn’t end there, Odd finds himself bereft of family and exiled.
What follows is a saga worthy of the skalds from his homeland. Burdened with shame and guilt, Odd must find a new path for himself, one that takes him into new lands, across seas, and into the heart of wars and courtly intrigues. An unruly crew, inscrutable Lapps, and wicked Finns further complicate his Fate. He’ll need every scrap of his wit, sword skill, and sheer nerve to navigate these uncharted waters.
Macbain has turned from his home stomping grounds of ancient Rome to this first in a new Viking series. His writing is vivid and compelling, and his understanding of Norse and Icelandic culture and history is woven deftly throughout the tale. The cast of characters is well-fleshed out and Odd makes for a wonderful protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I eagerly await its sequel. Highly recommended.” — Justin M. Lindsay, Historical Novels Review
“Meticulous research and poetic writing make Odin’s Child a multilayered masterpiece in the genre of historical fiction. It brings medieval Scandinavia vividly alive. Written with passion, peopled with superbly realised characters, I was gripped from the very first page of this historical novel.” — Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife and The Swan-Daughter
Praise for Bruce’s Roman Mysteries:
When Sextus Verpa, the emperor’s number one informant, is murdered in his bedroom, Emperor Domitian wants the killer found and gives young, naive lawyer and senator Pliny the Younger 15 days to do the job. If he fails, Verpa’s household slaves will be burned alive in the arena. MacBain, a scholar of ancient Greek and Roman history, leads the reader down the mean and dirty streets of Rome to find a conspiracy of hatred and greed that ends in an entanglement of diverse religious groups united by a mutual hatred of the emperor. VERDICT This debut is sure to appeal to fans of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis. — Library Journal
Macbain’s debut novel convincingly re-creates everyday life in ancient Rome, weaving real and fictional characters with aplomb. — Kirkus Review
“Macbain’s love of the ancient world is manifest on every page … a highly atmospheric and absorbing murder mystery that builds to an earthshaking climax.” – Steven Saylor, author of many novels of Ancient Rome including the Sub Rosa series
The story is full of suspense with nice twists which keep the reader occupied. Roman History Books and More –Roman History Books and More
Bruce Macbain keeps his saga fresh with a strong look at the decadence at the end of the first century in which an ethical hero struggles to keep his morality and his head. The story line is fast-paced as the two opposite ins status and outlook sleuths unite following clues that are religious and political dangerous as separation of state denotes separation of one’s head. This is an enjoyable whodunit due to the Roman background interwoven throughout the historical mystery. –Harriet Klausner”
“I thought it brilliant, a fantastic weave of fact with fiction in a brutally described Rome, rigid with hierarchy and fear. I really enjoyed the disillusionment that Plinius suffers at the end as the slaves are burnt alive for the collective good of the coup and ultimately Rome itself if one considers the era that Nerva ushered in. An excellent series. And I look forward to more.”” —Robert Fabbri, author of Vespasian, Tribune of Rome on Roma Far from Rome, mass murder complicates a provincial governor’s fight against local corruption.
In A.D. 108, Gaius Plinius Secundus ventures east with his young wife, Calpurnia, and an entourage to the province of Bithynia-Pontus, on the Black Sea, where resentment against the empire runs high. Newly appointed as governor, Pliny’s feted at the home of Marcus Vibius Balbus, the Fiscal Procurator of the province, and senses unrest there. His instinct proves correct when Balbus goes missing, as does his chief accountant, Silvanus. Nearly two weeks later, Balbus’ partially decomposed body is found in a deep gully, transforming Silvanus into the prime suspect in his murder. Embezzlement of some kind is suspected of either or both of the men. Although the locals are inclined to blame everything on the infidel Persians, Pliny is neither so gullible nor so bigoted as to adopt this view. Pancrates, a slick, fraudulent fortuneteller who seems to exert a Rasputin-like control over several powerful locals, becomes a key figure in Pliny’s investigation. So do the unctuous orator known as Diocles the Golden Mouth, who seems to pop up around every crime scene, and Glaucon, a hotheaded magnate who used to be a wrestler. On the personal front, Pliny struggles to deal with marital incompatibility; Calpurnia, who is prone to spontaneous outbursts, would rather play with her maid Ione than her husband. Packed with colorful characters and a strong sense of history, Pliny’s second adventure (Roman Games, 2010) takes its time developing its whodunit but consistently entertains along the way. —Kirkus Review
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