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Roberts, John Maddox 1947–

Roberts, John Maddox 1947–

PERSONAL: Born in 1947, in OH; married. Education: Attended college.

ADDRESSES: HomeNew Mexico.

CAREER: Writer. Military service: U.S. Army; served in the Vietnam War.

AWARDS, HONORS: Edgar Award nomination for best original paperback, Mystery Writers of America, 1991, for SPQR.



The Strayed Sheep of Charun, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1977, revised edition published as Cestus Dei, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1983.

Space Angel, Ballantine/Del Rey (New York, NY), 1979.

King of the Wood, Tor (New York, NY), 1983.

(With Eric Kotani) Act of God, Baen (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Eric Kotani) The Island Worlds, Baen (New York, NY), 1987.

(With Eric Kotani) Between the Stars, Baen (New York, NY), 1988.

(With Eric Kotani) Legacy of Prometheus, Forge (New York, NY), 2000.

Also author of Spacer: Window of the Mind, 1988; The Enigma Variations, 1989; (with Kotani) Delta Pavonis, 1990; The Prince and the Pirates, 1997; and Total Recall 2070: Machine Dreams.


Conan the Valorous, Tor (New York, NY), 1985.

Conan the Champion, Tor (New York, NY), 1987.

Conan the Marauder, Tor (New York, NY), 1988.

Conan the Bold, Tor (New York, NY), 1989.

Conan the Rogue, Tor (New York, NY), 1991.

Conan and the Treasure of Python, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

Conan and the Manhunters, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

Conan and the Amazon, Tor (New York, NY), 1995.


The Islander, 1990.

The Black Shields, Tor (New York, NY), 1991.

The Poisoned Lands, Tor (New York, NY), 1992.

The Steel Kings, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.

Queens of Land and Sea, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.


The Cingulum, Tor (New York, NY), 1985.

Cloak of Illusion, Tor (New York, NY), 1985.

The Sword, the Jewel, and the Mirror, Tor (New York, NY), 1988.


SPQR, Avon (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted as SPQR I: The King's Gambit, 2001.

SPQR II: The Catiline Conspiracy, Avon (New York, NY), 1991.

SPQR III: The Sacrilege, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.

SPQR IV: The Temple of the Muses, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.

SPQR V: Saturnalia, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.

SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centurion, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2001.

SPQR VII: The Tribune's Curse, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.

SPQR VIII: The River God's Vengeance, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.

SPQR IX: The Princess and the Pirates, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.

SPQRX: A Point of Law (SPQR X), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.


A Typical American Town, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1994.

Ghosts of Saigon, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1996.

Desperate Highways, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1997.


Murder in Tarsis, Wizards of the Coast, 1996.

Hannibal's Children, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2002.

The Seven Hills, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: John Maddox Roberts is a genre novelist who refuses to stick to one genre. He has written science fiction (both for adults and juveniles), fantasy, historical mystery, and police procedural. His first science fiction novel, The Strayed Sheep of Charun, is set on a medieval planet where Jesuits fight to save their outpost of humanity from unruly heathens. Space Angel and Spacer: Window of the Mind concern the adventures of a boy aboard a spaceship. Roberts's "Cingulum" series—The Cingulum, Cloak of Illusion, and The Sword, the Jewel, and the Mirror—are space operas that follow the doings of a ne'er-do-well crew.

Roberts's well-received King of the Wood posits an alternate world where, in 1450, Norsemen battle Native Americans, Aztecs, and Mongols for control of North America. Booklist contributor Roland Green called King of the Wood "a surprisingly good example of that demanding subgenre."

Roberts contributed five novels to the "Conan" series originated in the 1930s by the quirkily talented fantasist Robert E. Howard. Various other authors, including L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, have contributed over time to this series about a barbarian swordsman who wanders the land seeking adventure in a mythical time. One of Roberts's efforts, Conan the Valorous, garnered praise from Nel Ward in Voice of Youth Advocates for its "measure of stylistic competence."

Roberts's 1994 book, A Typical American Town, is a police procedural set in the modern-day United States. Gabe Treloar, a burnt-out and boozing veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, retreats from his troubles to his hometown of Monticello, Ohio. He attempts redemption by reconnecting with Lola, his teen heartthrob now turned forty, and in settling into the garage apartment behind the house in which he grew up, now owned by Edna Tutts. Coming back from a date with Lola, Gabe finds the property crawling with police. Edna has been tortured and murdered, her house ransacked, and Gabe is a suspect. He digs into the investigation of her death to clear his name. A Kirkus Reviews critic commented on A Typical American Town, writing: "Despite too many obvious villains, Roberts's warmth and unsparing insight make the familiar story of Gabe's cathartic return home a special treat for Ross Macdonald fans." A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the novel a "tightly constructed, elegantly simple mystery." Roberts continues Gabe's adventures in Ghosts of Saigon and Desperate Highways.

One unusual series of books written by Roberts are police procedurals set in ancient Rome. SPQR embroils the narrator—the plebeian Decius Caeclius Metellus the Younger—in a circa 70 B.C. murder investigation. To assist him, Metellus enlists the help of a gangster and a Sherlock Holmes-like detective in the guise of a Greek doctor. Cicero, Catiline, and Julius Caesar make cameo appearances in a plot filled with blackmail, corruption, and treachery. SPQR II: The Catiline Conspiracy, set seven years after the first novel, pits the same characters against a political conspiracy that starts out with a few seemingly unrelated murders but ends with a threat to Rome itself. Reviewing both books for Classical World, Fred Mench lauded the author's research: "Roberts details Roman society and history, explained clearly and with sufficient motivation or used as unobtrusive background." Publishers Weekly contributor Penny Kaganoff, reviewing the second book, pointed out that "readers familiar with the period will be entertained."

In the ninth entry of the series, SPQR IX: The Princess and the Pirates, Metellus travels to Cyprus to deal with pirates by recruiting a group to help stop them. However, when the island's Roman governor is found murdered, Metellus begins an investigation that ends up linking the death with his original mission. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "longtime fans and those interested in the Roman Republic will enjoy this crafty puzzle." The Kirkus Reviews critic commented: "Colorful characters led by Cleopatra and historical tidbits add entertainment to a middling mystery."

SPQR X: A Point in Law finds Rome in political upheaval after the return of Julius Caesar. At the same time, Metellus is running for a judicial office that could eventually lead to an even higher appointment. However, he is soon accused of corruption, then suspected of murder when his accuser is found dead. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that the author "displays his usual deftness in making the period come to life." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "Layers of intrigue slowly unfold, along with a meticulously detailed glimpse of ancient Roman society."



Booklist, April 1, 1983, Roland Green, review of King of the Wood, p. 1016; March 1, 2005, Frieda Murray, review of The Seven Hills, p. 1150.

Classical World, September, 1994, Fred Mench, reviews of SPQR and SPQR II: The Catiline Conspiracy, pp. 74-78.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1994, review of A Typical American Town, p. 1231; May 1, 2005, review of SPQR IX: The Princess and the Pirate, p. 514; April 15, 2006, review of SPQR X: A Point of Law, p. 384.

Publishers Weekly, July 26, 1985, review of Act of God, p. 162; August 2, 1985, review of Conan the Valorous, p. 64; March 15, 1991, Penny Kaganoff, review of SPQR II: The Cataline Conspiracy, pp. 54-55; October 24, 1994, review of A Typical American Town, p. 55; May 23, 2005, review of SPZR IX, p. 62; March 6, 2006, review of SPQR X, p. 49.


Wizards of the Coast, (October 24, 2006), brief biography of Roberts.

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