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Imperium: From the Sunday Times bestselling author (Cicero Trilogy, 4)

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Moreover, Harris's Cicero is a brilliantly realized character - a man of great intellect and eloquence, yet filled with doubts and vulnerabilities. I was reading a biography of Julius Caesar after having watched some episodes of “Rome,” a rather bawdy but interesting version of the rise of Octavian in which Cicero plays a prominent, if cheesey role, so I knowing Harris through some other books, I grabbed this one. Now this is historical fiction at its finest, as the book is allegedly derived from the scrolls of Cicero's personal secretary Tiro who wrote a history of Cicero. At a meeting at Pompey's house, Cicero reads out the extract from the Annals and it is decided to use the same precedent – although a dangerous one for the health of the republic – to get Pompey the supreme command.

Despite the Part Two not being as good as Part One (for my tastes), it was still entertaining enough to make me want to continue with the series. Y no quiero revelar tampoco mucho más pues, aunque tampoco nada de lo que diga puede considerarse un destripe, no voy hacer una mejor semblanza del personaje protagonista en esta reseña que la novela. For example, Crassus, bringing his army back to Rome, crucified 6000 prisoners, slaves, along more than 300 miles of the Appian way, spacing he crosses about 17 to the mile, as a warning to any future Spartacus who might wish to revolt against the imperium. Harris makes use of a lot of contemporary British slang here, almost as if this book has been translated into vernacular—which, in a sense, I suppose it must be, given that if Tiro had really written these words, they would be in Latin, not English! Cicero's plan is to have Gabinius summon Pompey to the rostra the next day, asking him to serve as supreme commander, and to have Pompey reject it and then the people would demand he take it.

Reading this book was not my choice, it was the choice of my reading group and it would have been rude not to! Harris has written a novel that combines a good political potboiler with solid historical fiction, based on real events in the life of the famous Roman senator and consul Cicero. I had kind of come to admire Catalina as the misunderstood sometimes-rascal presented in Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder mystery, "Catalina's Riddle".

Harris's writing isn't always the most graceful - he's better on plot than style - but he's not incompetent. Robert Harris tells a compelling story not just about Cicero but about the last days of the Roman Republic. One of those periods I've always had a great interest in, yet simultaneously know almost nothing about. The corrupt nature of the Senate upset me as I realised how much of the law was bought by those with money.The novel is narrated in first person by Cicero's freedman and secretary Marcus Tullius Tiro (upon freedom, slaves used to take up the praenomen and nomen of their masters), and covers Cicero's early life as a struggling young advocate trying to make a name for himself as he studiously takes classes with legendary orators from Greece both to improve his speech-giving style, his rhetoric and to cure his annoying stutter. It is a fictional biography of Cicero, told through the first-person narrator of his secretary Tiro, beginning with the prosecution of Gaius Verres. Both are grippingly brought to life with wonderful human touches such as the great military leader, but oratorical klutz, Pompey stumbling through his first Senate speech with a a "bluffer's guide to procedure written out for him by the famous scholar Varro". I was so disappointed by the two very different Parts that I longed to give the book 3 stars to punish it. This is the kind of book that will appeal to fans of Roman history, but people who are unfamiliar with the historical characters might struggle a bit with all the Latin names, not to mention the ever-fickle alliances that causes them to switch allegiances constantly.

The level of detail in his descriptions of the Roman Senate, the Forum, and daily life in ancient Rome is astounding, providing a vivid backdrop against which the drama unfolds.For indeed the plot is a political plotting in which Harris has intricately mixed the moral beliefs with the political personal ambitions of his main character. While those scrolls no longer exist they are referenced by Plutarch and others and so this is as close as we will get to actual historical detail. Men like Pompey and Julius Caesar who are looking to destroy democracy for a military dictatorship and absolute power.

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