Reviews for Nobilissima
History, Love, and Loss - Cincity
Carrie Bedford has written a beautiful book combining rich detail, developed characters, and a compelling plot based on life in Imperial Rome. Through first person narration, Nobilissima details the story of Placidia, eventual Empress of the Roman Empire, as she navigates her political and personal journey in the Empire. Bedford's descriptions are so detailed that one can smell the flowers in the garden, hear the clank of weapons in war, and smell the heat rising from dusty ground. Click here to read more
Perfect for book-clubs! - Carse of Gowrie (Silicon Valley CA)
What a great read! It was fascinating to discover, in Noblissima, a heroine of the Roman era, Placidia. The author gives such a fresh window into the turbulent times of the beginning of the fifth century. She paints such vivid scenes - I felt I was there journeying through the mountains with the Goths, as well as on the gory battlefields of war. Placidia's frustrations in dealing with the decisions of her brother, the Emperor, and his advisors left me frustrated too! Tragedy strikes Placidia several times during the book and I felt her pain each time. Yet she rises each time to become even stronger. She is not without fault, however, and it was sad to witness her inability to relate to her children. It's a perfect book for a book group since there is so much to discuss after reading this book eg. Women and power through the ages - what has changed? How much of what happened to Placidia was the result of the curse? Definitely a "I have to keep reading to see what happens next" book! A truly enjoyable read.
A Compelling read - pbdog
I found it hard to put this book down. Nobilissima held my interest from the opening page and I was sad when I came to the end. The author has created a perfect blend of historical details and lively story-telling, with rich, fully-drawn characters. Bedford weaves in beautiful descriptions that give the reader the flavor of life at that time without bogging down the story. Placidia is a wonderful character, strong and courageous, but she's also complex and has flaws. I loved this book.
Truly engaging and entertaining - Michela Pasquali
I love Nobilissima. I loved following the first person narration of the main character, Placidia, sister to the Emperor of 4th century Rome, through all the amazing turns and twists of her life. She's smart, resilient, funny and an absolute pleasure to get to know. In fact, I miss her now that I've finished the book! I'm still thinking about her and the many other memorable characters - Sylvia, Aurelia, Marcus, Ataulf, even Honorius, whom I loved to hate.
Carrie Bedford paints gorgeous, vivid pictures of Rome and the Roman empire for the reader, so that I felt I was there right along with Placidia the whole time, whether surveying Rome from her balcony on the Palantine hill, or smelling orange blossoms outside her window, or hearing the wind howl outside her tent in the Pyrenees, or feeling the rain splash against her skin on the boat to Constantinople. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous.
Bedford has done a spectacular job of weaving incredible historical detail into a story that had me on the edge of my seat constantly (I admit, I literally gasped and tried to sneak ahead to find out what happened quite a few times). I learned a lot about Imperial Rome through Placidia's eyes and Nobilissima is perfect for anyone interested in learning about a fascinating part of history, in an truly engaging and entertaining way.
History Can Be Fun - Cathy Feldman
Galla Placidia is probably the most fascinating historical woman you may never have heard of. Carrie Bedford has written an accomplished and entertaining historical novel about the middle years of her dramatic life, starting with the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 AD and ending as she becomes regent for the Western Roman Empire is 425 AD. Along the way Placidia marches with the Visigoths through Gaul and Spain, marries the King of the Goths, survives his death and that of their son, returns to Ravenna where her brother is Emperor, remarries for political reasons, and flees to Constantinople to escape the intrigues of her brother's court. Placidia, who is referred to as Nobilissima, narrates her own story. The book is full of dialogue that develops character and historical detail that makes the period come alive. When I finished the book, I found myself still thinking about the cast of characters and picturing life in ancient Rome. Nobilissima is based on a life that shows truth can be stranger than fiction, and it also makes history fun.
Favorite Historical book I've read on my Kindle - books3333
I've read a several historical novels about Roman times and this book was great. I like that the main character was a woman. We get a different slant on things. Well done Carrie Bedford. Thanks for the good read.
A really gripping historical novel - Melodi Lammond-Grundy
I really, really enjoyed this book; I found myself unable to put it down and stayed up reading several nights in a row.
It has that rare combination of really good research, a gripping and interesting heroine, historical background and fast-moving story line. I actually checked back to see if there was a sequel yet, as I really want to know what happens next?
I think this book will be of particular interest to women because it shows a strong and ambitious women, against the background of the early Migration Age and her own personal markers (like marriage and child birth).
The other thing I really, really liked about this book was the good development of the more "minor" characters, including the Cat Apollo. One thing I hate about many modern novels (historical and otherwise) is their tendency to cut the story to the bare bones to where it reads like a movie script. I call this the "please buy the rights to my book" syndrome - instead this novel is in the older tradition of historical novels where rich and interesting people show up for a time and lend color and interest without being the major subjects of the story. Sometimes these cameos will be historical figures and sometimes just those who lend interest, but I am so happy to see people writing this way again.
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction or just reading a really good story!
A Remarkable Woman - Sue Garzon
Nobilissima is a fascinating portrait of Aelia Galla Placidia, daughter and sister of Roman emperors, and an important figure in a time of major upheaval. Bedford portrays Placidia as a beautiful young woman devoted to the welfare of the Empire, including the hard-pressed citizens of Rome. Unlike her hapless brother Honorius, who cares more about chickens than statesmanship, Placidia is a politician. She steers a survival course for herself and the Empire, responding to the demands of an array of skillfully portrayed characters, including senators, generals, churchmen, family members, and servants. Throughout the book, Placidia's emotional resilience is impressive, enabling her to deal with the death of loved ones, physical hardship, and treachery. Clearly, she cannot afford to hold grudges; on two occasions, she marries former enemies. As Placidia matures, she increasingly views the Empire's welfare through the lens of her own ambitions, a believable development for an emperor's daughter.
Nobilissima is entitled "A Novel of Imperial Rome," and it is certainly that, but it is also more. Through the eyes of Placidia, we glimpse Europe at a transitional moment, when Germanic and Roman cultures face off and begin a process of accommodation that will influence the development of medieval Europe. Placidia lives for a time in lands that will eventually become France and Spain, and she forms a close relationship with one of the Goth leaders, whom Bedford portrays as a man who has lived in two worlds and is caught between Roman treachery and a power struggle within his tribe.
This is a fast-paced, entertaining novel, and I had difficulty putting it down. The story begins with the city of Rome encircled by Goths, and the tension never lets up. Bedford conveys historical information with a light touch, so that the action moves briskly. We come to care about Placidia and her trusted friends as they maneuver through a time of major historical transition.
Nobilissima, a heroine for the ages - little twig
Carrie Bedford has written a richly descriptive novel of ancient Rome. Obviously well-researched, Bedford brings to life the story of Nobilissima, a true heroine with all her trials, tragedies and triumphs which makes for captivating reading. Oh, to have had a text book back in college like the book Bedford has created which submerges the reader into the world of ancient Rome with a fast-paced plot with all of its twists and turns and overflowing with really wonderfully descriptive prose.
I look forward to Bedford writing the sequel to this most readable novel, for the saga of Nobilissima does not end with this book. i want to read more!
Great novel about an unforgettable character - David Gray Rodgers, author of The Songs of Slaves
I've been an avid student of the Fifth Century for some time, and so when I came across a novel about Galla Placidia I picked it up immediately. Though practically forgotten by the survey-style history education that most of us get, Placidia was a powerhouse - a woman who went from Roman princess to political hostage, to queen of those who had been her enemies, to imperial pawn, and then finally to empress dowager. While most figures make their contribution and then fall out of history, Placidia was one of those few people who stayed near the epicenter of the events that defined her era throughout her entire life. And so what better character to explore the epic tangle of intrigues, war, and rivalry that was the last century of Western Rome?
And what better book to explore it with than Bedford's Nobilissima? Bedford's first person narrative tells the story from Placidia's perspective with a no-nonsense approach that we can imagine in the daughter of Theodosius the Great. In a sub-genre (Roman h.f.) where military fiction is over-represented, it is refreshing to see the events from the perspective of a woman who led by inspiring and whose character and bravery were more subtle and complex. The book begins with one of the most controversial acts of Placidia's life - her role in the demise of Serena during the hysteria-laden days of Rome's siege. Very well researched and brimming with facts, we then meet real-life characters like Alaric, Ataulf, Olympius, Constantinus, et cetera - all presented with the multi-faceted and intricate natures they held in life. Bedford keeps the narrative concise and flowing with prose that is easy to read and a plot that is easy to follow; and in the end the reader is left with a good understanding of what really happened.
If I had any criticism of the novel, it would be that it does not often stop to smell the roses. The pace is break-neck at times, but this is forgivable as Bedford has a lot of ground to cover. Also, Alaric and Ataulf are portrayed with the mix of savagery and nobility that the historical record supports; but in the novel it seems that all of their good qualities are the result of their Romanization, where the other Goths are usually portrayed (at least early on) in quite undesirable terms. This could, of course, be Bedford's interpretation of how Placidia would have seen things, and the perspective does seem to temper as the book progresses.
Overall, Nobilissima is an excellent book that gives fresh perspective into a fascinating time through the eyes of an unforgettable character.
Historical Fiction at its Best - FB-guy (California)
Nobilissima is an outstanding historical novel, with well developed characters, solid period details and a fast-paced narrative. It was difficult to put it down, and I am looking forward to reading what happens in the years to come in a future book. The novel was one of those books where you always want to see what happens next, and you are sad when you reach the end. The author paints a compelling picture of the late Roman Empire, in the years leading up to the fall, and gives the reader a strong sense of life, the politics and the chaos of the times. I enjoy historical fiction, and Nobilissma really hits the mark. I particularly enjoyed feeling as though I was watching the sack of Rome as it happened. The writing is a pleasure to read, and I could see that the author had done extensive research -- I feel as though I learned a great deal about the time period. The narrative moves at a brisk pace and it takes us to the most important, and interesting, locations across the ancient world. The fast location changes left like the best parts of a Bourne or Bond film. The characters feel real flesh and blood, with desires, ambitions and flaws, and I found it easy to make a connection with many of the core personalities. I would highly recommend the novel.
Emotional Read - Chris M
The main character in this book is very fleshed out, which sometimes makes the other characters seem thin. The plot keeps going and going and going; there's a lot packed into this book. I did find the last bit of plot was too much for me, I would have ended the book earlier, but this was a good read.
Nobilissima - Sue
I have never read any Roman history with a female protagonist. This was fascinating. I found myself looking up historical references, and for the first time, some of the complex history around the fall of Rome began to make sense and became believable. I recommend this book.
Enjoyed it! - Lorenzo Girotto
Great book...I enjoyed it a lot, too short though! Will definitely look forward to more novels by Carrie Bedford in the future!
Nice historical tale - Cali
Very vivid descriptions of the last days of the RomanEmpire. A blend of biography, romance and intrigue, very well elaborated.
Terrific book! - J. Leonard DeCarlo
If you’re looking for a riveting and historically accurate tale of ancient Rome, look no further. Carrie Bedford takes us into the mind and heart of Placidia, daughter of a Roman Emperor, who survived hardships and tragedy to emerge as one of the most powerful women in Roman politics.
This book is told from Placidia’s point of view, and through her eyes we get to visit a time and a place that no longer exists. The reader is swept along with this amazing woman as she moves from loss to love and back again, all the while coming into her own and learning to wield her considerable intelligence and power. This author wrote a terrific story, and I highly recommend it.
Recommended - R. Lee Holz
Nobilissima is the highly fictionalized partial biography (from the sack of Rome in 410 c.e. by the Visigoths under Alaric I to approximately 424 c.e.) of Placidia, the sister of the late Roman Emperor Honorius. As such, the book is highly readable and very entertaining.