Damiano Leone
Il simbolo (The symbol)
A historical novel
ISBN 978-88-97308-44-7
616 pages, € 23,00

An intriguing and entertaining book that never lets the attention wander. The plot flows smoothly as it unfolds into a reading that is at once light and thought-provoking; a tribute to those who enjoy their historical novel and, at the same time, an enjoyable work for your ordinary reader.

It is not easy to find a piece of literature that equals it in terms of emotion, gratification and boldness.
Lettera 43

A one-of-a-kind experience, an unforgettable journey and a story that thrives with emotion imbue this book with great intensity.
La lettrice assorta

Ben Hamir is responsible for a “butterfly effect” of sort, even if he’s not aware of it: a single word, a brisk nod are enough to give a twist of fate to the story. Wandering from one Mediterranean land to the other in a quest for his true self, this humble man crosses paths with those who hold the reins of the world. Although he is just one face in the crowd, Ben Hamir will end up being that one variable that can rewrite history.
Leggere Tutti

Leone is meticulous about the historical accuracy of his book. His reconstruction sheds a light on the society of that gone-by era, and it presents the reader with lurid details and brilliant remarks.
Outsider webzine

In the teeth of his many, many pages, this reading is remarkably light. It’s far from being an history lecture, but is just as fascinating; and, although it is no erotic fiction, it still brings some velvety pleasure. Not to be labeled as a Bildungsroman, the novel does echo the educational scope of the genre, and it speaks to the heart of a very varied audience.

The vividly lifelike protagonist moves in a world that has been wonderfully recreated by the author. Historical accuracy and flowing lyricism add great value to the work. The volume, although massive, is never tedious to the reader, who is left breathless as the plot unfolds. Leone’s work is an insightful, sometimes brutal account of an era long time gone, and yet very relatable as it tells the story of a man as torn and terrified as each of us.

Despite its size, the novel unravels effortlessly as it engages the reader. The historical facts are described from a refreshingly new perspective, shedding a light on ancient history as we know it.
I recommend this book to those who are keen on solid historical novels, where substance and detailing abundance meet an unconventional take on the past.
Il colore dei libri

Damiano Leone
The symbol

A little kid, a prostitute’s son, is born in a Palestine besieged by Roman troops. At the same time, another boy is born who will go down in history as Jesus of Nazareth. Their lives couldn’t be any more different, and yet they are bound to cross at the characters’ darkest hour.
Turned to prostitution, young Ben Hamir finds some solace in the affection of a slave tasked with mentoring him. Forced to flee from Palestine, after a very educational time in Athens Ben Hamir conquers Rome – or, at least, the hearts of its matrons – and becomes a much-desired guest amidst the Roman élite.
The young protagonist is introduced to the heart of Roman politics, and he ultimately becomes intimate with Tiberius himself. From this friendship, though, he learns that fate can be treacherous. When the Emperor bids him to go back to Palestine, Ben Hamir finds that a new love and an old one are waiting for him – as well as the fierce hatred of his arch-enemy, Pontius Pilate.
A seemingly trivial act will twist the plot, leading the protagonist to give up luxury and lust to live an ordinary life.
Rome, though, has other plans for him: Ben Hamir will be forced to work as an Imperial informer – a task he deeply abhors. The events he witnesses will be beyond imagination.

From the back cover:

This book presents a vivid, vast fresco, telling the story of some of the historical figures that would change the future of the Western world for millennia to come.

Shifting in tone from irony to tragedy, the novel brims with minor – but factual – rumours from the 1st century A.D. The narrator/protagonist is an unusual and engaging character. On his journey across Jerusalem, Athens, Rome and Egypt, this singular anti-hero will struggle to outlive the danger of treachery and games of power, while countless lovers of both sexes disclose their most scabrous desires to him.

Damiano Leone was born in Trieste in 1949.
The scientific nature of his studies and education led him to devote his career to technical subjects, at least at first.
His job and his passion drove him to plunge into the study of ancient history, arts, and literature: a three-decade long passion that Leone nurtured with countless visits to museums and archaeological sites all over Europe.
Upon retirement, he moved to a mountain village in Friuli and finally had the time and peace of mind to fulfil his never-forgotten literary dreams.
He finished his historical novel, Enkidu, in 2012. In 2015, Leone published Lo spettatore (“The spectator”).

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