Conspirata (Cicero Series #2) [NOOK Book]


• Internationally bestselling author: Imperium was hailed as “quite possibly Harris’s most accomplished work to date” ( Los Angeles Times ) and has received rave reviews from across the globe. Robert Harris’s novels have sold more than 10 million copies and have been translated into thirty-seven languages..

• Powerful protagonist: Cicero returns to continue his struggle to grasp supreme power in the state of Rome. Amidst treachery, vengeance, ...
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Conspirata (Cicero Series #2)

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• Internationally bestselling author: Imperium was hailed as “quite possibly Harris’s most accomplished work to date” ( Los Angeles Times ) and has received rave reviews from across the globe. Robert Harris’s novels have sold more than 10 million copies and have been translated into thirty-seven languages..

• Powerful protagonist: Cicero returns to continue his struggle to grasp supreme power in the state of Rome. Amidst treachery, vengeance, violence, and treason, this brilliant lawyer, orator, and philosopher finally reaches the summit of all his ambitions. Cicero becomes known as the world’s first professional politician, using his compassion, and deviousness, to overcome all obstacles..

• Compelling historical fiction at its best: Harris employs historical detail and an engrosing plot to give readers a man who ?is by turns a sympathetic hero and compromising manipulator who sets himself up for his own massive, violent ruin. This trilogy charges forward, propelled by the strength of Harris’s stunningly fascinating prose..
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Editorial Reviews

Frank Bruni
Will Cicero survive, entrails intact? What of the Republic he governs? History buffs can already answer those questions, so it's to Robert Harris's considerable credit that he wrings some suspense from them, producing a fact-based novel that's deliciously juicy and fleetly paced…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In this gripping second installment to his ancient Rome trilogy (after Imperium), bestseller Harris proves once again that politics is an ugly game. Beginning in 63 B.C.E. and told by Cicero's slave secretary, Tiro, this complex tale continues to chronicle Cicero's political career as he charms, co-opts, and bribes his way into the exalted position of consul, ruler of Rome. Although Cicero is known as a brilliant politician and philosopher, he was also a slick manipulator and shameless schemer, competing with equally sneaky rivals Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. Cicero realizes that as the empire expands, the greatest threat to Rome comes from within, plotted by well-financed conspirators bent on turning the republic into a dictatorship. With fabulous oratory and trickery, Cicero uncovers and crushes an insurrection, exposing himself to great danger and possible assassination. Riots, murder, civil unrest, corruption, treachery, and betrayal mark Cicero's political legacy, resulting in a battle between him and Julius Caesar. Throughout, however, Tiro remains loyal and remarkably astute, recognizing that it is “an act of madness for a man to pursue power when he could be sitting in the sunshine reading a book.” (Feb.)
Library Journal
In this sequel to Imperium, Cicero has been elevated to a one-year position of Consul, the highest elected political office during Rome's republican period. Told from the point of view of Tiro, Cicero's slave and secretary, this novel is the story of that year. The backdrop is Rome 63 B.C.E., a time of political and social unrest, war and conquest at the far reaches of the empire, and corruption, bribery, and treachery. Though politically powerful, Cicero is portrayed as essentially an isolated and lonely man: "but in all the crowds I cannot find one person with whom I can exchange an unguarded joke or let out a private sigh." VERDICT Harris has written a meticulously researched historical novel that is far from being a dry recitation of mere dates and events. His exploration of the brilliant mind and sometimes dubious motives of Cicero, arguably one of history's greatest orators, historians, and statesmen, is absolutely riveting. Readers who enjoy the complexities of Steven Saylor's historical Roman mysteries and the historical detail of Colleen McCullough's "Master of Rome" series will want to make room on their shelves for Harris's latest. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09.]—Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK
Publishers Weekly
This sequel to Imperium, narrated by the slave secretary Tiro, sees Cicero fulfilling his ambition to become consul of the Roman Senate and facing the machinations and manipulations of Julius Caesar. Simon Jones's reading will keep listeners enthralled as Tiro comments on the secrets and scandals of Rome's rich and famous, and as Cicero thwarts threats of treason and keeps the Roman Republic standing. Jones's soothing baritone and perfect aristocratic accents bring this ancient history to vivid life. A Simon & Schuster hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 21). (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Republican Rome, with all its grandeur and corruption, has rarely been made as vivid." — Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times (London)
The Barnes & Noble Review

"History," said Marcus Tullius Cicero, "is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity." With increasing frequency, those tidings have been delivered in fiction, of which Robert Harris's projected trilogy starring the great silver-tongued Roman himself is a splendid example. Now two volumes strong, the work purports to be a biography of Cicero written by his slave and scribe, Tiro. Such a man did exist and so, apparently, did his book, though lost long ago to one of those miscellaneous disasters to which history has also been so frequent a witness. The Tiro of these pages, an engaging character himself, is an on-the-spot reporter of the skullduggery that was Roman politics of the time and an acerbic commentator on the foibles, follies, and bold gambits of his master.

Though it can be read on its own, Conspirata continues where the first volume, Imperium, left off, that is with Cicero ascending to a year's consulship in a republic that is corroding from within and harassed from without. It is 63 B.C. and Rome is "a vortex of hunger, rumor, anxiety; of crippled veterans and bankrupt farmers begging at every corner; of roistering bands of drunken young men terrorizing shopkeepers; of women from good families openly prostituting themselves outside the taverns; of sudden conflagrations, violent tempests, moonless nights, and scavenging dogs; of fanatics, soothsayers, beggars, fights." Pompey is away in the East; Rome has the jitters. The discovery of an eviscerated slave boy, clearly killed as a human sacrifice, is an unhappy sign --but what does it mean?

It means plots are afoot, a great welter of intrigue and treachery that finally coalesces as the Catiline Conspiracy, whereby portions of Rome were to be set ablaze, any number of senators, including Cicero, murdered, and power seized in the subsequent panic by Lucius Sergius Catilina and his fellow conspirators. Under Harris's pen -- or Tiro's stylus -- the infamous scheme unfolds in a stunning sequence of double-dealing, deception, and opportunism. It is immensely enthralling and nerve-racking even though we know how it will end. I give nothing away to the student of history (or reader of novels of ancient Rome) when I tell you that Catilina and his cohorts are finally dispatched; but at that point the book is only a little over halfway to its end. Now another presence, which has been slipping in and out of the pages, becomes increasingly felt.

Ecce Caesar. "Pitiless ambition clothed in honeyed charm," he is a master of guile and foul hugger-mugger. Inscrutable and watchful, he is nonetheless possessed, as Cicero observes, of "a kind of divine recklessness." Though implicated in the conspiracy, Caesar is allowed to go free for lack of evidence. It is Cicero's scruples which prevent the needful from being simply fabricated, although that would have been simple enough. Tiro (and the reader, for that matter) finds this fastidiousness oddly placed, for, as shown by Cicero's many reversals and strange alliances -- the stratagems which make up much of the story's plot, in fact -- the great orator was capable of the most ruthless pragmatism. This is only one of the occasions, as the scribe notes with gloomy hindsight, that the opportunity was lost to eradicate Caesar, without whom "the world -- our world -would have been entirely different."

Throughout the novel, Harris draws upon Cicero's actual writings and speeches, but if we are to believe the often mordant Tiro of these pages -- and why wouldn't we? -- Cicero, like most people, was as enchanted by what he could have said and embellished his speeches when he came to write them down. It's a good joke, as is his waxing vainglorious after his victory over the Catilines, setting about the composition of his own autobiography in verse. Though no longer extant -- if it ever was -- Tiro tells us "It was terrible stuff!...When the mood seized him Cicero could lay down hexameters as readily as a bricklayer could throw up a wall: three, four, even five hundred lines a day was nothing to him." At times wry, at others bemused, scandalized, compassionate, or, occasionally, rueful over the coexistence of slavery with Republican ideals, Tiro's ironical voice is the perfect foil for what might have been simply a determined march through well-known historical events. Put another way: Robert Harris, his worldly-wise wit ever present in his creature Tiro, belongs in the company of such great conjurors of ancient Rome as Gore Vidal and Allan Massie -- and not, shall we say, with Colleen McCullough.

Hindsight, foreshadowing, and, indeed, resonance with our own time, pervade the book. This, like the previous volume, is a fascinating treatment of brute politics, confounded civic virtue, and now, increasingly, demagoguery and the "Dionysian convulsions" of the masses. The Roman Republic is on its last legs; with its constitution stretched and tattered, governance is a dirty business -- a necessarily dirty business -- for Rome's citizens are not, as Cicero writes to his friend Atticus, "living in Plato's Republic," but in "Romulus's shit hole."

The seeds of the decline of the subsequent empire can already be spotted and once again our own day is evoked. Pompey, returned glorious and vastly wealthy with plunder, has appropriated land, hitherto designated for the process of voting, to build a huge theatre -- that is, the appurtenances of constitutional government have been replaced with those of mass entertainment. Conquest has enlarged Rome's territory beyond the limits of peaceful rule. "We are meddling in places we know nothing about," argues the intransigently ethical Cato. "This is going to require permanent legions, stationed overseas. And whoever commands the legions needed to control this empire . . . will ultimately control Rome, and whoever raises a voice against it will be condemned for his lack of patriotism."

"I wonder," Harris has Cicero say elsewhere, "what men will think of us a thousand years from now . . . .We have so much -- our arts and learning, laws, treasure, slaves, the beauty of Italy, dominion over the entire earth -- and yet why is it that some ineradicable impulse of the human mind always impels us to foul our own nest?" The answer here, nearly two thousand years on, is that when we think of Rome we think of our dismal, unraveling future. Still, that takes nothing away from the pleasure to be had from these witty, briskly written, historically rich novels. --Katherine A. Powers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439199824
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/3/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 102,394
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Robert Harris is the author of Pompeii, Enigma, and Fatherland. He has been a television correspondent with the BBC and a newspaper columnist for the London Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph. His novels have sold more than ten million copies and been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Berkshire, England, with his wife and four children.
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Read an Excerpt


TWODAYS BEFORE the inauguration of Marcus Tullius Cicero as consul of Rome, the body of a child was pulled from the River Tiber, close to the boat sheds of the republican war fleet.

Such a discovery, though tragic, would not normally have warranted the attention of a consul-elect. But there was something so grotesque about this particular corpse, and so threatening to civic peace, that the magistrate responsible for keeping order in the city, Gaius Octavius, sent word to Cicero asking him to come at once.

Cicero at first was reluctant to go, pleading pressure of work. As the consular candidate who had topped the poll, it fell to him, rather than his colleague, to preside over the opening session of the Senate, and he was writing his inaugural address. But I knew there was more to it than that. He had an unusual squeamishness about death. Even the killing of animals in the games disturbed him, and this weakness—for, alas, in politics a soft heart is always perceived as a weakness—had started to be noticed. His immediate instinct was to send me in his place.

“Of course I shall go,” I replied carefully. “But—” I let my sentence trail away.

“But?” he said sharply. “But what? You think it will look bad?”

I held my tongue and continued transcribing his speech. The silence lengthened.

“Oh, very well,” he groaned at last. He heaved himself to his feet. “Octavius is a dull dog, but steady enough. He wouldn’t summon me unless it was important. In any case I need to clear my head.”

It was late December, and from a dark gray sky blew a wind that was quick enough and sharp enough to steal your breath. Outside in the street a dozen petitioners were huddled, hoping for a word, and as soon as they saw the consul-elect stepping through his front door they ran across the road toward him. “Not now,” I said, pushing them back. “Not today.” Cicero threw the edge of his cloak over his shoulder and tucked his chin down onto his chest, and we set off briskly down the hill.

We must have walked about a mile, I suppose, crossing the Forum at an angle and leaving the city by the river gate. The waters of the Tiber were fast and high, flexed by yellowish-brown whirlpools and writhing currents. Up ahead, opposite Tiber Island, amid the wharfs and cranes of the Navalia, we could see a large crowd milling around. (You will get a sense of how long ago all this happened, by the way—more than half a century—when I tell you that the island was not yet linked by its bridges to either bank.) As we drew closer many of the onlookers recognized Cicero and there was a stir of curiosity as they parted to let us through. A cordon of legionnaires from the marine barracks was protecting the scene. Octavius was waiting.

“My apologies for disturbing you,” said Octavius, shaking my master’s hand. “I know how busy you must be, so close to your inauguration.”

“My dear Octavius, it is a pleasure to see you at any time. You know my secretary, Tiro?”

Octavius glanced at me without interest. Although he is remembered today only as the father of Augustus, he was at this time aedile of the plebs and very much the coming man. He would probably have made consul himself had he not died prematurely of a fever some four years after this encounter. He led us out of the wind and into one of the great military boathouses, where the skeleton of a liburnian, stripped for repair, sat on huge wooden rollers. Next to it on the earth floor an object lay shrouded in sailcloth. Without pausing for ceremony, Octavius threw aside the material to show us the naked body of a boy.

He was about twelve, as I remember. His face was beautiful and serene, quite feminine in its delicacy, with traces of gold paint glinting on the nose and cheeks, and with a bit of red ribbon tied in his damp brown curls. His throat had been cut. His body had been slashed open all the way down to the groin and emptied of its organs. There was no blood, only that dark, elongated cavity, like a gutted fish, filled with river mud. How Cicero managed to contemplate the sight and maintain his composure I do not know, but he swallowed hard and kept on looking. Eventually he said hoarsely, “This is an outrage.”

“And that’s not all,” said Octavius. He squatted on his haunches, took hold of the lad’s skull between his hands, and turned it to the left. As the head moved, the gaping wound in the neck opened and closed obscenely, as if it were a second mouth trying to whisper a warning to us. Octavius seemed entirely indifferent to this, but then of course he was a military man and no doubt used to such sights. He pulled back the hair to reveal a deep indentation just above the boy’s right ear, and pressed his thumb into it. “Do you see? It looks as if he was felled from behind. I’d say by a hammer.”

“His face painted. His hair beribboned. Felled from behind by a hammer,” repeated Cicero, his words slowing as he realized where his logic was leading him. “And then his throat cut. And finally his body . . . eviscerated.”

“Exactly,” said Octavius. “His killers must have wanted to inspect his entrails. He was a sacrifice—a human sacrifice.”

At those words, in that cold dim place, the hairs on the nape of my neck stirred and spiked, and I knew myself to be in the presence of Evil—Evil as a palpable force, as potent as lightning.

Cicero said, “Are there any cults in the city you have heard of that might practice such an abomination?”

“None. There are always the Gauls, of course—they are said to do such things. But there aren’t many of them in town at the moment, and those that are here are well behaved.”

“And who is the victim? Has anyone claimed him?”

“That’s another reason I wanted you to come and see for yourself.” Octavius rolled the body over onto its stomach. “There’s a small owner’s tattoo just above his backside, do you see? Those who dumped the body may have missed it. ‘C.Ant.M.f.C.n.’ ‘Caius Antonius, son of Marcus, grandson of Caius.’ There’s a famous family for you! He was a slave of your consular colleague, Antonius Hybrida.” He stood and wiped his hands on the sailcloth, then casually threw the cover back over the body. “What do you want to do?”

Cicero was staring at the pathetic bundle on the floor as if mesmerized. “Who knows about this?”




“What about the crowd outside?”

“There’s a rumor going around there’s been some kind of ritual killing. You above all know what crowds are like. They’re saying it’s a bad omen on the eve of your consulship.”

“They may be right.”

“It’s been a hard winter. They could do with calming down. I thought we might send word to the College of Priests and ask them to perform some kind of ceremony of purification—”

“No, no,” said Cicero quickly, pulling his gaze away from the body. “No priests. Priests will only make it worse.”

“So what shall we do?”

“Tell no one else. Burn the remains as quickly as possible. Don’t let anyone see them. Forbid anyone who has seen them from disclosing the details, on pain of imprisonment, or worse.”

“And the crowd?”

“You deal with the body. I’ll deal with the crowd.”

Octavius shrugged. “As you wish.” He sounded unconcerned. He had only one day left in office—I should imagine he was glad to be rid of the problem.

Cicero went over to the door and inhaled a few deep breaths, bringing some color back to his cheeks. Then I saw him, as I had so often, square his shoulders and clamp a confident expression on his face. He stepped outside and clambered up onto a stack of timber to address the crowd.

“People of Rome, I have satisfied myself that the dark rumors running through the city are false!” He had to bellow into that biting wind to make himself heard. “Go home to your families and enjoy the rest of the festival!”

“But I saw the body!” shouted a man. “It was a human sacrifice, to call down a curse on the republic!”

The cry was taken up by others: “The city is cursed!” “Your consulship is cursed!” “Fetch the priests!”

Cicero raised his hands. “Yes, the corpse was in a dreadful state. But what do you expect? The poor lad had been in the water a long time. The fish are hungry. They take their food where they can. You really want me to bring a priest? To do what? To curse the fish? To bless the fish?” A few people began to laugh. “Since when did Romans become frightened of fish ? Go home. Enjoy yourselves. The day after tomorrow there will be a new year, with a new consul—one who you can be sure will always guard your welfare!”

It was no great oration by his standards but it did what was required. There were even a few cheers. He jumped down. The legionnaires cleared a path for us through the mob and we retreated quickly toward the city. As we neared the gate I glanced back. At the fringes of the crowd people were already beginning to wander away in search of fresh diversions. I turned to Cicero to congratulate him on the effectiveness of his remarks, but he was leaning over the roadside ditch, vomiting.

Such was the state of the city on the eve of Cicero’s consulship—a vortex of hunger, rumor, and anxiety; of crippled veterans and bankrupt farmers begging at every corner; of roistering bands of drunken young men terrorizing shopkeepers; of women from good families openly prostituting themselves outside the taverns; of sudden conflagrations, violent tempests, moonless nights, and scavenging dogs; of fanatics, soothsayers, beggars, fights. Pompey was still away commanding the legions in the East, and in his absence an uneasy, shifting mood swirled around the streets like river fog, giving everyone the jitters. There was a sense that some huge event was impending but no clear idea what it might be. The new tribunes were said to be working with Caesar and Crassus on a vast and secret scheme for giving away public land to the urban poor. Cicero had tried to find out more about it but had been rebuffed. The patricians were certain to resist it, whatever it was. Goods were scarce, food hoarded, shops empty. Even the moneylenders had stopped making loans.

As for Cicero’s colleague as consul, Antonius Hybrida—Antonius the Half-Breed: half man, half beast—he was both wild and stupid, as befitted a candidate who had run for office on a joint ticket with Cicero’s sworn enemy Sergius Catilina. Nevertheless, knowing the perils they would face, and feeling the need for allies, Cicero had made strenuous efforts to get on good terms with him. Unfortunately, his approaches had come to nothing, and I shall say why. It was the custom for the two consuls-elect to draw lots in October to decide which province each would govern after his year in office. Hybrida, who was steeped in debt, had set his heart on the rebellious but lucrative lands of Macedonia, where a vast fortune was waiting to be made. However, to his dismay he drew instead the peaceful pastures of Nearer Gaul, where not even a fieldmouse was stirring. It was Cicero who drew Macedonia, and when the result was announced in the Senate Hybrida’s face had assumed such a picture of childish resentment and surprise that the entire chamber had been convulsed by laughter. He and Cicero had not spoken since.

Little wonder, then, that Cicero was finding it so hard to compose his inaugural address and that when we returned to his house from the river and he tried to resume his dictation his voice kept trailing off. He would stare into the distance with a look of abstraction on his face and repeatedly wonder aloud why the boy had been killed in such a manner, and of what significance it was that he belonged to Hybrida. He agreed with Octavius: the likeliest culprits were the Gauls. Human sacrifice was certainly one of their cults. He sent a message to a friend of his, Quintus Fabius Sanga, who was the Gauls’ principal patron in the Senate, asking in confidence if he thought such an outrage was possible. But Sanga sent a rather huffy letter back within the hour, saying of course not, and that the Gauls would be gravely offended if the consul-elect persisted in such damaging speculation. Cicero sighed, threw the letter aside, and attempted to pick up the threads of his thoughts. But he could not weave them together into anything coherent, and shortly before sunset he called again for his cloak and boots.

I had assumed his intention was to take a turn in the public gardens not far from the house, where he often went when he was composing a speech. But as we reached the brow of the hill, instead of turning right he pressed on toward the Esquiline Gate, and I realized to my amazement he intended to go outside the sacred boundary to the place where the corpses were burned—a spot he usually avoided at all costs. We passed the porters with their handcarts waiting for work just beyond the gate, and the squat official residence of the carnifex, who, as public executioner, was forbidden to live within the precincts of the city. Finally we entered the sacred grove of Libitina, filled with cawing crows, and approached the temple. In those days this was the headquarters of the undertakers’ guild: the place where one could buy all that was needed for a funeral, from the utensils with which to anoint a body to the bed on which the corpse was cremated. Cicero asked me for some money and went ahead and spoke to a priest. He handed him the purse, and a couple of official mourners appeared. Cicero beckoned me over. “We are just in time,” he said.

What a curious party we must have made as we crossed the Esquiline Field in single file, the mourners first, carrying jars of incense, then the consul-elect, then me. All around us in the dusk were the dancing flames of funeral pyres, the cries of the bereaved, and the sickly smell of incense—strong, yet not quite strong enough to disguise the stink of burning death. The mourners led us to the public ustrina, where a pile of corpses on a handcart were waiting to be thrown onto the flames. Devoid of clothes and shoes, these unclaimed bodies were as destitute in death as they had been in life. Only the murdered boy’s was covered: I recognized it by the sailcloth shroud into which it had now been tightly sewn. As a couple of attendants tossed it easily onto the metal grille, Cicero bowed his head and the hired mourners set up a particularly noisy lamentation, no doubt in the hope of a good tip. The flames roared and flattened in the wind, and very quickly that was it: he had gone to whatever fate awaits us all.

It was a scene I have never forgotten.

Surely the greatest mercy granted us by Providence is our ignorance of the future. Imagine if we knew the outcome of our hopes and plans, or could see the manner in which we are doomed to die—how ruined our lives would be! Instead we live on dumbly from day to day as happily as animals. But all things must come to dust eventually. No human being, no system, no age is impervious to this law; everything beneath the stars will perish; the hardest rock will be worn away. Nothing endures but words.

And with this in mind, and in the renewed hope that I may live long enough to see the task through, I shall now relate the extraordinary story of Cicero’s year in office as consul of the Roman republic and what befell him in the four years afterward—a span of time we mortals call a lustrum, but which to the gods is no more than the blinking of an eye.

© 2010 Robert Harris

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 19, 2010

    You Cannot Miss This!

    I'm not sure the other reviewers and I read the same book. Far from boring, I found this novel impossible to stop reading. I had separation anxiety every time I was forced to put it down, to work or make dinner or whatever. Like its predecessor, Imperium, it is written as a thriller, not as history. Take away the history and you still have a compelling story--and Harris handles it marvelously. In fact, having finished Imperium and Conspirata, I am now devouring the rest of Harris's bibliography and am finding that all of his books are equally well written. I cannot wait for the third installment in the Cicero Trilogy. Definitely get this one. Whether you like history or not, you will not regret it!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Robert Harris brings back the declining days of teh Roman republ

    Robert Harris brings back the declining days of teh Roman republic, Harris highlights the treachery of an aristocratic senator who attempts a coup d'etat, but Cicero is the hero of the day. It is a fantastic read, and anyone interested in this volatile period of Roman politics will appreciate his prose. I highly recommend this book. I just with that Robert Harris would write another in the Cicero series, as it has been too long in the making.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Pass it up

    This book covers some of Rome's most interesting years, filled with power shifts, intrigues and shifting fortunes. Great stuff! Right? Why then does the author make it so pedestrian? boring? dull!
    I found the last chapter of considerable interest, although I don't think the author intended my take on it. J.G. Caesar qua master manipulator has boxed Cicero into a corner where he either has to capitulate to Caesar or leave Rome in exile. Truly, I felt the power of Cicero's downfall as a parallel to our political situation today. Caesar has obtained overwhelming power which he exercises though his puppets. The constitution is violated, laws outflanked, and the galloping doom of the Republic is tangible. Oh well! Don't Republics end up as dictatorships anyway?
    I pondered how an author so familiar with the history could produce such a dreary novel. It wasn't the times. They were really cooking. I came to the conclusion that the author lacks the zip to make the novel interesting. All that intrigue, sex and manipulation! I fear the author maintained too great psychic distance from his subject, or to put it bluntly: he just didn't want to get his hands dirty.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    tiro triumphs

    The middle act in this fall of the roman republic is better than the first! A republic in it's death throes, how prescient. Very much looking forward to the finale! You can't go wrong with Robert Harris!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011


    Not a page turner, but fun look at "history"

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  • Posted July 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Rome Comes Alive

    Harris was wise to pick Cicero as his protagonist. The orator was probably the nearest in outlook to us of all the Romans. Even though any ancient history buff knows the outline of this story, seeing it through the eyes of Tiro, the slave who narrated the first novel of the trilogy is like being a fly on the wall. (He existed and actually wrote a now lost Life of Cicero.) Caesar, Pompey, Cato, Cataline, and Crassus all come alive as they jockey for power and the Republic totters. This book is as good as Robert Graves' Claudius novels. Harris may surpass that duo when he finishes this trilogy. For more background read Tom Holland's Rubicon and Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Awful book

    Not much I can say but I wished after reading 50 pages, that I could return it. Instead I put it down and will give it away with the next books I pass on to Vet's Hospitals and maybe someone, somwhere will like it.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Politics Endures

    Not being a fortune teller, I cannot tell you how others will enjoy this book in the future, nor will I write a review until I have actually finished reading the novel- which is now. I liked it a great deal. It gives a look at old Roman politics, teaching us that some things never change.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I have been anxiouly awaiting to know the rest of the story...

    I pre-ordered this audiobook last fall. It has not dissapointed me. I have not finished listening to it yet but I know I will be hearing it again and again. Then I will give it to my husband, who will enjoy it just as much.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Lustrum (from UK)

    Read this a few months back, as Lustrum, from the UK. Harris is quite an adequate historian, and a capable writer and story-teller, which makes for an enjoyable read. One can feel history through fiction in ways that pure historical text could never convey.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Caveat Emptor

    This option requires you to download OpenOffice which is 15mb! T

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Asuperb complex Ancient Rome political thriller

    The stage is filled with competitors who know no ethics; the likes of Pompey and that upstart Caesar to name a few. However, as slick as his opponents are, in 63 B.C., Marcus Cicero is chosen as the Consul of Rome though not a good time to take over as ruler with all the unrest further enflamed by his opponents and even his allies.

    Two days before the oath of office, a young male slave is brutally murdered with his organs removed in what appears to have been a human sacrificial ritual. Fear spreads through the city and Cicero knows even before he takes over he has issues. As the Empire grows, Cicero concludes the biggest threat to the fall of the Roman Empire is from within by the avaricious seeking personal power. He proves to be right when he is fortunate to prevent an assassination that would turn the Republic into a dictatorship, but his strongest rival Caesar survives the defeated conspiracy proving to Cicero this is his biggest threat.

    As told once again by slave secretary Tiro (see Imperum), Conspirata is a superb complex Ancient Rome political thriller with ramifications to modern day America. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action that brings to life Ancient Rome in the first century BC, a place filled with riots, civil unrest, and corruption (could easily be DC). Fans will enjoy this strong saga especially Tiro's side commentary and observations as to why would anyone with a sane mind want this ruler job when you can read a book or in modern Twitter text watch Rangers' baseball or Bull's basketball.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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