Monday, January 12, 2015

The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis

I had finished reading this some time last week, but was prevented from posting due to internet connection problems due to having no electricity. Ah, the perils of modern day life in America in the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Chicago.

The short review is that Silver Pigs is a little rougher around the edges than the second book in the series, which I  happened to read first, but hey, this is an award winning book and a little rougher around the edges for Lindsey Davis is like how I would hope to be able to write one day.

Readers are presented with a Rome that's just come out of a civil war and not everyone is happy with the victor. To that end, there are some seeking to fund another round of rebellions using silver stolen from Britain.

Our hero, Falco, has bad memories of Britain. Turns out he was in Britain for one of the larger revolutions, one involving one Boudica. More of which can be found here:

Falco was in the units that well, didnt' fare well due to poor intelligence so he wasn't too keen to go back but to find out who and why the silver is being stolen, he does, even enduring some time as a slave in the silver mines.

The novel is full of characters and relationships. This is the novel that introduces Falco and Helena and how they first meet and fall in love and shows the vast gulf between them in terms of social standing but how for a little while, even that doesn't deter their love.

Reading this first novel by Lindsey Davis, it's clear to see that she would become even better as time went on, and as she's done well over twenty books, apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.

In terms of gaming, reading mystery books puts me in a different mind than the standard Dungeons and Dragons.

For example, while Falco does become engaged in a few brawls and does have to fight for his life at times, the majority of the book deals with Falco solving mysteries, with Falco forming links between people, events, and times so that he can discover why things have happened in the manner in which they have.

Such efforts might seem an odd fit for Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder, but Lorefinder, a supplement for Pathfinder that could be adapted to 3.5, shows that it can be done. I hope one day that WoTC gets off their ass in this electronic everything now era and puts out a license so we can see Peregrine Press make a similar book for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.

The overall plot can be easily dragged into any role playing game though.

1. Characters see girl being chased by thugs.

2. Girl tells character she has a secret.

3. Secret is inkling of vast conspiracy against current government.

4. Characters are caught up in their own plots for moment and girl dies.

5. Characters follow threads of mystery to another country with ties to their own where they may not be well liked.

6. Characters encounter other natives of their land that must accompany them back to their home but those NPCs have complications of their own which then become tied up with the characters. To make matters worse, one of these NPCs is related to the dead girl and blames the characters for her death.

7. Characters uncover conspiracy goes all the way to the top and will be rewarded, but must keep silent on how far up the chain the conspiracy goes.

8. Characters have to decide how to move on with the knowledge that the current government hides its own corruption that would allow innocent youth to die while at the same time trying to bridge the gulf between it and themselves.

If you're looking for ideas of what life, travel, food, and the difficulties of climbing social ranks were in ancient Rome, Silver Pigs is for you.