Marcus Gavius Apicius purchased me on a day hot enough to fry sausage on the market stones.“
So begins the tale of Thrasius, the fictional narrator of Feast of Sorrow. Released this week, the novel is based on the real life of ancient Roman noble Marcus Gavius Apicius, who is thought to have inspired and contributed to the world’s oldest surviving cookbook, a ten-volume collection titled Apicius.
But it is Crystal King’s Feast of Sorrow that brings readers into the kitchens of ancient Rome, where nobles and slaves jockeyed for position by using food as bargaining chips for personal and professional advancement — whether it’s the radishes that Thrasius carves into roses for his lady love and fellow slave, Passia, or the pig-shaped pastries stuffed with ham that he makes to delight the dinner guests of his gluttonous master. For Thrasius, relocating from the countryside to the metropolis also means the coveted opportunity to cook, and serve, the exotic animals killed by Roman gladiators: bears, tigers, rhinoceros.