Rating: 4.75 stars
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Novius Senna used to be a close friend to the emperor Nero. They shared the dreams of young men and visions for Rome. But now Nero has changed, become an evil tyrant and cruel leader. And to protect his family, Senna has become one of the men who helps him. Yet now that his family has found safety, Senna is determined to find a way to kill Nero and get rid of his evil once and for all.
Aenor is a recent slave, captured and brought to Rome. As a pleasure slave he suffers rape, abuse, and horrible cruelties. But Senna can see that there is strength in him as well. He realizes that Aenor may be just the person he has been looking for, someone who can get close enough to Nero to help Senna with his assassination plot.
Both men hate Nero. And although they hold vastly different stations in life, both men are under his power. They are determined to end his life, knowing that it will likely lead to their deaths as well. But their own lives mean nothing to them anymore, and they are willing to sacrifice themselves for their cause. Yet neither man expects their alliance to grow into more, and that amidst the chaos and treachery they will find love in one another.
He is Worthy was a fabulous story and one that I greatly enjoyed. Henry creates such rich and vivid detail in her depiction of Rome and life in 68 A.D. The sights and smells of the city, the powerful and the powerless, and the politics and constant scheming. Her writing is so well done that I could feel and imagine everything as she described it. There is a lot involved in setting the stage for this story, with the complex politics and key figures, but Henry manages to set things up without making it drown in exposition and heavy handed narration. The story provides wonderful detail and historical richness while still remaining exciting and fast paced.
I loved watching Senna and Aenor come together in this tale. Both men are being used by Nero, subject to his whims and his cruelties. Although his life is filled with far less pain than Aenor’s, Senna is truly no more free. The men come together at first out of necessity. Together they can solve a problem that neither can alone. But as they get to know one another, things move past simply having mutual goals. They begin to care for each other, lust after one another, and become committed to one another’s safety and happiness. Although they don’t have long enough to truly find love, it is clear that these men have formed an unbreakable bond. I loved them together and found a lot of sweetness to balance out the harder parts of the book.
And yes, there are some difficult parts to this story as well. As a slave Aenor is raped, beaten, and tortured. This is not a pretty look at life in Rome and there is definitely some intensity here in the depiction of Aenor’s treatment, as well as that of the other slaves. Nothing is gratuitous and the descriptions help to really show the gritty side of life, as well as help us understand Senna and Aenor’s determination to end Nero. But it isn’t all pretty and some sections are tough to read.
Overall I thought this story was incredibly well done. The descriptions are detailed and vivid and make ancient Rome just come to life. It is exciting and fast paced and kept me eagerly turning pages to find out the fate of our heroes and their plot to kill Nero. And it is a sweet tale of two men who find love amidst great pain. Really great story and one I’d definitely recommend.