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A Sunday Times Book of the Year
'A stunning work of historical imagination . . . masterful in its portrayal of love, sex and friendship' - The Observer
'Sparrow [is] truly unforgettable' - Daily Mail
Meet Jacob - aka Sparrow - a boy slave in the Spanish city of New Carthage in the last years of pagan Rome.
Raised in a brothel at the edge of a dying empire, a boy of no known origin creates his own identity. He is Sparrow, who sings without reason and can fly from trouble. His world is a kitchen, a herb-scented garden, a loud and dangerous tavern, and the mysterious upstairs where the 'wolves' - prostitutes and slaves from every corner of the empire - conduct their business.
He spends his days listening to stories told by his beloved 'mother' Euterpe, running errands for her lover the cook, and dodging the blows of their brutal overseer and the machinations of the chief wolf, Melpomene. A hard fate awaits Sparrow, one that involves suffering, murder, mayhem, and the scattering of the women who have been his whole world . . .
In Sparrow, James Hynes brings the entirety of the Roman city of Carthago Nova - its markets, temples, taverns of the lowly and mansions of the rich - to vivid, brutal life.
'Hynes renders this hidden world so powerfully and vividly.' - The Guardian