I purchased Cast Not The Day for a bargain price at a book sale some months ago and it was in danger of gathering dust along with a number of other desolate ‘unreads’. To be frank I didn’t expect to enjoy the book judging by the blurb at the back and a cursory read through the first pages.
At a glance the narrative felt too contemporary in its style to produce an authentic historical fiction novel set in the height of Roman imperialism. I’d never heard of Paul Waters before and so was skeptical. I bought it anyway, thinking it will make for some easy reading to help me nod off come bedtime.
Turned out I was pleasantly surprised. Nod off, I did not. Instead I ended up furiously burning up the chapters late into the night. One thing I did get right while prejudging the book – it’s indeed a lightweight read. Despite that the narrative preserves the richness and vivid detail of its setting, enough to draw you into fourth century AD, London.
From the very beginning I found myself rooting for the protagonist, Drusus, a young nobleman, whose story unfolds amidst imperial politics, love, tyranny and the triumph of faith in the face of harsh religious institutionalisation. The power struggle of Christian emperors and their relentless pursuit to vanquish any perceived treason drives the plot forward. There are a number of interesting characters that add colour and dimension to the story. Of note, Aquinus the sagely aristocrat recurring throughout the story and Marcellus – Drusus’s love interest (is he or is he not?) with his winsome nature, as well as a number of others – some extreme enough to love to hate.
The momentum of the story petered out a little about two thirds into the book, but not to the point that I was compelled to put it down – after all it is a light read.
The ending closes on an uncertain note, after all this is the first of a trilogy (Drusus #1) and if I ever come across the second – I think I am bound to pick it up.