Sarum by Edward Rutherford

I did not even finish this book.  Mr. Rutherford started losing me by the second chapter:  The Barrow.  It was interesting, I’ll grant you, but there was this one sentence at the beginning of the chapter that irritated me:

In the warm and fertile lands between the great rivers Tigris and Euphrates in present day Iran, an inventive and busy people – the Sumerians – were building the world’s first hill towns (40).

Sumerians in Iran?  Huh?  Weren’t they in Iraq?  Well, since I know that until relatively recently Sumer was in Iran, I flipped back to the title page.  Copyright date: 1987.  Yep, still in Iraq.  That little error bugged me for the rest of the chapter, which was otherwise somewhat interesting. 

About the time I got to the Roman period of Sorviodunum, I began to grow bored.  Plus, there was this statement to annoy me:

No emperor who valued the purple or his life, ever left two well-armed legions close to home with nothing to do.  They had an uncomfortable habit of growing bored, and proclaiming a new emperor (143).

Ummm, Claudius was only the fourth emperor.  The legions didn’t develop this “habit” until Nero was assassinated, bringing on the Year of the Four Caesars which ended with the elevation of Vespasian to the purple.

For some odd reason I’ll never understand, I kept reading until I got to the Stephen/Matilda war in the twelfth century.  By then, I could take no more.

Rating:  2.25 out of 5 stars


2 thoughts on “Sarum by Edward Rutherford

  1. Actually, Sumerians did occupy land that during a period from 550-330 BCE was ancient Iran. This included the territory which included the Tigris and Euphrates.

    Your second bitch is a misunderstanding of the text. It simply refers to the law that Roman legions were forbidden by law to march on Rome. This is a reference to Augustus himself. If anything it is a rule of thumb for any emperor. Keep your generals busy or they will want to become politicians.

    Your review is pathetic and mean spirited. It is also factually wrong.


    1. I readily concede the second argument. Whether you are wrong or right, I don’t know. I am not now, nor will I ever be an expert on Roman history.

      Now to the Sumerians: 550-330 BCE is the period of the Achaemenid Empire, and, yes, during that period the land of Sumer was in Persia. However, notice the quote: “… in present day Iran….” When Sarum was published, the present day was 1987. There are many times in history when Sumer was within the boundaries of the Persian Empire/Iran, 1987 just wasn’t one of them.


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