*Visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Deadly Destination tour of Alyssa Day’s Atlantis & a chance to win VAMPIRE IN ATLANTIS**
When in Rome, do as the Romans do…or not. Our tour guide for today’s Deadly Destinations is Sarah Jane Stratford’s Mors, from her Millennial dark fantasy series (THE MOONLIGHT BRIGADE will be available on August 2nd from St. Martin’s Griffin). Mors is taking us on a tour of ancient and modern Rome, which is the beautiful, yet deadly setting from the book. THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN is the first book in the series. Thanks to Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin, three of you who comment on this post will win a copy of the second book! See details below.
Mors’s Guide to Ancient and Modern Rome
So here I am, back in Rome, 1600-odd years after I left. I never intended to return, but my city of my birth needs me. I was born here twice, as both a human and a vampire. It changed a lot in my time – Augustus was a fine exterior decorator, and many followed his example. Seeing as it’s now 1941, I was prepared for a few differences. Some are marvelous, such as the Piazza Navona:
Others are mind-boggling. It’s rumored the Italians retained their good taste, but one glance at the excrescence that is the Palazzo degli Uffici sends that theory straight to the vomitorium:
I would say it looks like a prison, only I’ve seen more attractive prisons. And they say it’s supposed to look Classical! An architect who tried to foist that on ancient Rome would have been tossed down the Gemonian Stairs. Worst of all is this bas-relief of Mussolini:
Look at him, using the salute used by Augustus. Oh my dear Il Duce, I knew Augustus, and you sir, are no Augustus. Neither will you govern an empire. My intent is you won’t govern long at all. About that – this building houses information I need for my plan to work and I must get inside. Unfortunately, it is sealed to vampires. For now.
But never mind, Roman history still stands. The Pantheon doesn’t look quite as it did when Marcus Agrippa built it, but it’s still rather nice, don’t you think?
Back then, it was a temple to all the gods in the heavens. Today, it’s a tomb. That seems fitting, since all those gods are considered dead. Are they, though? Perhaps they are only sleeping. Perhaps someday, when this human war is over, I’ll find a way to set off the alarm clock.
Talking of the gods, it’s a shame the temple to Minerva on Aventine Hill is gone. It was there for so long. When I knew it, it was used by a guild of writers and actors, which suited both Minerva and myself, though of course I never went inside. You can get a sense of it here:
But a stretch of aqueduct wall still stands close by. There is a door hidden in the wall, which leads down into a lovely apartment. After all these centuries, the archaeologists haven’t found it. Lady Luck is so very sweet on me. And her sweetness knows no bounds. Underground the apartment may be, but we still get excellent radio reception.
I’m also delighted to see the Ara Pacis Augustae still standing (that’s the Altar of Augustan Peace, for those who don’t speak Latin). They’ve moved it near Augustus’s mausoleum – Mussolini apparently hopes to create some sort of Ancient Rome “theme park.” I’m not sure how he thinks that honors the nation’s past. Nor would I be surprised if he adds Dodgems and a roller coaster. The war has slowed him up, however, and the worst he’s done is build a ridiculous wall around the altar. The doors are locked at night, but it’s a lock that’s easily broken if you know how. They don’t really think they could keep me away from vestiges of my own past, do they?
As for the Imperial Palace, well, those of us who loved the republic have the last laugh. The ruin has its uses, however. This patch in particular:
Archaeologists are unsure as to whether it was a stadium or a garden. Far be it from me to tell them – that would spoil their fun. What matters is that they ponder it in their sleep, leaving it deserted at night. Because whatever it was then, here in these treacherous times, it is the perfect training ground for my new legion of fighters.
My legion. A legion that would have astounded many back in my day, including myself, because it is mostly comprised of women. But it is a foolish man who underestimates the real power of women. And I am not foolish. Nor, of course, a man.
Women had more power in my Rome than you would think. Especially the Vestals. I suppose I’m not surprised to see that this is all that remains of the Temple of Vesta:
It once represented the domestic hearth of the city and the Vestals kept the fire going within that protected us all. I’m glad I wasn’t here the day the fire went out. Is it any wonder the empire itself went to pieces soon after?
Don’t worry, Rome. I shall rekindle your old flames.
After having earned an MA in medieval history from the University of York, Sarah Jane Stratford quickly found that the best use for such a degree was writing fake history. The Moonlight Brigade is Sarah Jane’s second novel and a sequel to The Midnight Guardian. She also adores theatre and writes plays – again, mostly playing with the past. She enjoys hot clothes, hot tea, and cold weather.
Want to read more from Sarah Jane Stratford?
This giveaway is provided by Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin
Three winners will each receive a copy of The Moonlight Brigade by Sarah Jane Stratford
Available on August 2, 2011 from Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin
About the Book:
When a vital member of the British millennials’ mission goes missing after an intense firefight with Nazi-supported vampire hunters, Mors, the mission’s powerful leader, vows to discover the truth behind his disappearance. The perilous search takes Mors from Berlin to his own ancient stomping grounds – Rome.
Mors was once one of the Roman Republic’s greatest generals – until his rebirth as a vampire under unprecedented circumstances – and when he sees Italy under Fascism, he forms a new mission: to return the country to a true republic, and perhaps guide its people into the light himself.
But it will take collaboration with human partisans to achieve his new dream, a dangerous alliance that most vampires would never attempt, made even more unstable by his growing love for the partisans’ beautiful and brave organizer, Giulia. As the Allies prepare to invade Italy, and hunters and Nazi-collaborators start to encircle him, Mors’s quest for vengeance, intense passion, and hunger for power force him to confront the demons of both his past and present. A very different war is about to begin…
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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