Ten-year-old Guiamo, recently orphaned and abandoned by his impoverished uncle, approaches an elderly fisherman, Calidius, in hopes of obtaining food and shelter. When the weathered seaman takes the boy in, however, Guiamo's destiny is altered forever. After learning all he can from Calidius, Guiamo embarks on a journey to the empire's capital, craving a life of glory and adventure. Guiamo by Marshall Best chronicles the coming-of-age of Guiamo Durmius Stolo as he unearths his family's heritage, cultivates his passion for warfare, and discovers the hidden magic of the Druidae religious order.
Although Guiamo paints a fairly vivid portrait of its protagonist's adolescence, Best's prose relies too heavily on summarizing, or "telling, and lacks the description necessary to truly immerse the reader in the novel's plot. Furthermore, this lack of detail impedes the reader's ability to identify with Guiamo. In spite of this, however, readers can't help but root for Best's hardworking, fiercely optimistic protagonist. While Guiamo's plot starts off slow (the novel's first few chapters lack conflict), it accelerates considerably as the book progresses. Best conveys ancient Rome with a stunning level of historical accuracy, and his knowledge of the time period imbues the novel with rare sense of authenticity. Although I can't endorse Guiamo as a fast read, I do, however, recommend it as a satisfying one.