Imperium (Cicero Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF FATHERLAND AND POMPEII COMES THE MOST PROVOCATIVE AND BRILLIANT NOVEL OF ANTIQUITY SINCE I, CLAUDIUS --
IMPERIUM
A CAUTIONARY TALE OF CICERO, THE GREATEST ORATOR OF ALL TIME, AND HIS EXTRAORDINARY STRUGGLE FOR POWER IN ROME.

When Tiro, the confidential secretary (and slave) of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold...
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Imperium (Cicero Series #1)

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Overview

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF FATHERLAND AND POMPEII COMES THE MOST PROVOCATIVE AND BRILLIANT NOVEL OF ANTIQUITY SINCE I, CLAUDIUS --
IMPERIUM
A CAUTIONARY TALE OF CICERO, THE GREATEST ORATOR OF ALL TIME, AND HIS EXTRAORDINARY STRUGGLE FOR POWER IN ROME.

When Tiro, the confidential secretary (and slave) of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually propel his master into one of the most suspenseful courtroom dramas in history. The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Marcus Cicero -- an ambitious young lawyer and spellbinding orator, who at the age of twenty-seven is determined to attain imperium -- supreme power in the state.

Of all the great figures of the Roman world, none was more fascinating or charismatic than Cicero. And Tiro -- the inventor of shorthand and author of numerous books, including a celebrated biography of his master (which was lost in the Dark Ages) -- was always by his side.

Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, Imperium is the re-creation of his vanished masterpiece, recounting in vivid detail the story of Cicero's quest for glory, competing with some of the most powerful and intimidating figures of his -- or any other -- age: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and the many other powerful Romans who changed history.

Robert Harris, the world's master of innovative historical fiction, lures us into a violent, treacherous world of Roman politics at once exotically different from and yet startlingly similar to our own -- a world of Senate intrigue and electoral corruption, special prosecutors and political adventurism -- to describe how one clever, compassionate, devious, vulnerable man fought to reach the top.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This mesmerizing historical novel renders the life of Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.) through the eyes of Tiro, his loyal servant and biographer. With sometimes haunting verisimilitude, Robert Harris skillfully recreates Tiro's lost masterpiece about his master, evoking the full sweep of Rome's treacherous political scene. All the arbiters of imperial power are here: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus. Toga conspiracies and backstabbing senators; a timeless tale told with elegance and a sense of telling detail.
Dennis Drabelle
Toward the end comes a walk-on by Publius Clodius Pulcher, the most beautiful man in Rome, who figures prominently in another splendid novel of antiquity, Thornton Wilder's The Ides of March. I can think of no better endorsement of Imperium than to mention those two books in the same breath.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Bestselling British author Harris (Pompeii; Enigma) returns to ancient Rome for this entertaining and enlightening novel of Marcus Cicero's rise to power. Narrated by a household slave named Tiro, who actually served as Cicero's "confidential secretary" for 36 years, this fictional biography follows the statesman and orator from his early career as an outsider a "new man" from the provinces to his election to the consulship, Rome's highest office, in 64 B.C. Loathed by the aristocrats, Cicero lived by his wits in a tireless quest for imperium the ultimate power of life and death and achieves "his life's ambition" after uncovering a plot by Marcus Crassus and Julius Caesar to rig the elections and seize control of the government. Harris's description of Rome's labyrinthine, and sometimes deadly, political scene is fascinating and instructive. The action is relentless, and readers will be disappointed when Harris leaves Cicero at the moment of his greatest triumph. Given Cicero's stormy consulship, his continuing opposition to Julius Caesar and his own assassination, readers can only hope a sequel is in the works. Until then, this serves as a superb first act. 350,000 announced first priting; 10-city author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
There is strong historical evidence that Tiro, slave and secretary to Marcus Cicero, one of the greatest of the Roman senators, wrote a biography of his master that is supposed to have been lost during the Middle Ages. Using existing records of Cicero's speeches and writings, Harris (Pompeii) has re-created Tiro's biographical work in this novel of Cicero, who to this day is known as a consummate politician, skilled litigator, and gifted orator. Factual and true to Cicero's original writings though this work may be, a certain dry recitation of dates and events renders it less a novel than a semifictional piece of nonfiction. Nonetheless, Harris's work provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of the rich, famous, corrupt, and powerful of Rome during the age of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and, of course, Cicero himself. Recommended for public and university libraries where there is an interest in ancient civilizations. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/06.]-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The tumultuous history of Rome from 79 to 64 B.C. comes alive in this fictional biography of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the politician and superb orator who rose to the empire's highest office after starting as an outsider from the provinces. His first legal case drew him into a long battle with powerful Gaius Verres, the dangerously corrupt governor of Sicily. Cicero displayed his wit and talent for oration and strategy to triumph over Verres and other opponents in high-profile cases. Harris has written a fast-paced tale, the first part of a trilogy. He examines the full spectrum of Roman society, including its dark side of corruption, class divisions, betrayal, and cruelty. Cicero, who sought imperium, or ultimate power of the state, is portrayed as a sympathetic figure whose allegiance was to the idea of Republic. The author paints a vivid picture of everyday life, and the courtroom dramas are, at times, riveting. Readers will recognize other famous Romans who pop up in the story, including Julius Caesar and Pompey. They may also recognize the timelessness of the pursuit of power.-Susanne Bardelson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Masterful.”
Sunday Times

“Harris’s best so far, rapid and compelling in narrative, copious in detail, thoroughly researched but also, which is more important, thoroughly imagined.… Irresistible.” Allan Massie,
Sunday Telegraph

“In Harris’s hands, the great game becomes a beautiful one.”
The Times

“Harris deploys the devices of the thriller writer to trace the perils and triumphs of Cicero’s ascent.… A finely accomplished recreation of the power struggles of more than two millenniums ago.”
Observer


Praise for Pompeii:

“Blazingly exciting... Harris, as Vesuvius explodes, gives full vent to his genius for thrilling narrative... suffocating suspense and searing action.”
Sunday Times

“As explosive as Etna, as addictive as a thriller, as satisfying as great history.”
Daily Telegraph

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743293877
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/19/2006
  • Series: Cicero Series , #1
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 91,436
  • File size: 817 KB

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


It had been my intention to describe in detail the trial of Gaius Verres, but now I come to set it down, I see there is no point. After Cicero's tactical masterstroke on that first day, Verres and his advocates resembled nothing so much as the victims of a siege: holed up in their little fortress, surrounded by their enemies, battered day after day by a rain of missiles, and their crumbling walls undermined by tunnels. They had no means of fighting back. Their only hope was somehow to withstand the onslaught for the nine days remaining, and then try to regroup during the lull enforced by Pompey's games. Cicero's objective was equally clear: to obliterate Verres's defenses so completely that by the time he had finished laying out his case, not even the most corrupt senatorial jury in Rome would dare to acquit him.

He set about this mission with his usual discipline. The prosecution team would gather before dawn. While Cicero performed his exercises, was shaved and dressed, I would read out the testimony of the witnesses he would be calling that day and run through our schedule of evidence. He would then dictate to me the rough outline of what he intended to say. For an hour or two he would familiarize himself with the day's brief and thoroughly memorize his remarks, while Quintus, Frugi, and I ensured that all his witnesses and evidence boxes were ready. We would then parade down the hill to the Forum -- and parades they were, for the general view around Rome was that Cicero's performance in the extortion court was the greatest show in town. The crowds were as large on the second and third days as they had been on the first, and the witnesses' performances were often heartbreaking, as they collapsed in tears recounting their ill treatment. I remember in particular Dio of Halaesa, swindled out of ten thousand sesterces, and two brothers from Agyrium forced to hand over their entire inheritance of four thousand. There would have been more, but Lucius Metellus had actually refused to let a dozen witnesses leave the island to testify, among them the chief priest of Jupiter, Heraclius of Syracuse -- an outrage against justice which Cicero neatly turned to his advantage. "Our allies' rights," he boomed, "do not even include permission to complain of their sufferings!" Throughout all this, Hortensius, amazing to relate, never said a word. Cicero would finish his examination of a witness, Glabrio would offer the King of the Law Courts his chance to cross-examine, and His Majesty would regally shake his head, or declare grandly, "No questions for this witness." On the fourth day, Verres pleaded illness and tried to be excused from attending, but Glabrio was having none of it, and told him he would be carried down to the Forum on his bed if necessary.

It was on the following afternoon that Cicero's cousin Lucius at last returned to Rome, his mission in Sicily accomplished. Cicero was overjoyed to find him waiting at the house when we got back from court, and he embraced him tearfully. Without Lucius's support in dispatching witnesses and boxes of evidence back to the mainland, Cicero's case would not have been half as strong. But the seven-month effort had clearly exhausted Lucius, who had not been a strong man to begin with. He was now alarmingly thin and had developed a painful, racking cough. Even so, his commitment to bringing Verres to justice was unwavering -- so much so that he had missed the opening of the trial in order to take a detour on his journey back to Rome. He had stayed in Puteoli and tracked down two more witnesses: the Roman knight, Gaius Numitorius, who had witnessed the crucifixion of Gavius in Messana; and a friend of his, a merchant named Marcus Annius, who had been in Syracuse when the Roman banker Herennius had been judicially murdered.

"And where are these gentlemen?" asked Cicero eagerly.

"Here," replied Lucius. "In the tablinum. But I must warn you, they do not want to testify."

Cicero hurried through to find two formidable men of middle age -- "the perfect witnesses from my point of view," as Cicero afterwards described them, "prosperous, respectable, sober, and above all -- not Sicilian." As Lucius had predicted, they were reluctant to get involved. They were businessmen, with no desire to make powerful enemies, and did not relish the prospect of taking starring roles in Cicero's great anti-aristocratic production in the Roman Forum. But he wore them down, for they were not fools, either, and could see that in the ledger of profit and loss, they stood to gain most by aligning themselves with the side that was winning. "Do you remember what Pompey said to Sulla, when the old man tried to deny him a triumph on his twenty-sixth birthday?" asked Cicero. "He told me over dinner the other night: 'More people worship a rising than a setting sun.'" This potent combination of name-dropping and appeals to patriotism and self-interest at last brought them around, and by the time they went in to dinner with Cicero and his family they had pledged their support.

"I knew if I had them in your company for a few moments," whispered Lucius, "they would do whatever you wanted."

I had expected Cicero to put them on the witness stand the very next day, but he was too smart for that. "A show must always end with a climax," he said. He was ratcheting up the level of outrage with each new piece of evidence, having moved on through judicial corruption, extortion, and straightforward robbery to cruel and unusual punishment. On the eighth day of the trial, he dealt with the testimony of two Sicilian naval captains, Phalacrus of Centuripae and Onasus of Segesta, who described how they and their men had escaped floggings and executions by bribing Verres's freedman Timarchides (present in court, I am glad to say, to experience his humiliation personally). Worse: the families of those who had not been able to raise sufficient funds to secure the release of their relatives had been told they would still have to pay a bribe to the official executioner, Sextius, or he would deliberately make a mess of the beheadings. "Think of that unbearable burden of pain," declaimed Cicero, "of the anguish that racked those unhappy parents, thus compelled to purchase for their children by bribery not life but a speedy death!" I could see the senators on the jury shaking their heads at this and muttering to one another, and each time Glabrio invited Hortensius to cross-examine the witnesses, and Hortensius simply responded yet again, "No questions," they groaned. Their position was becoming intolerable, and that night the first rumors reached us that Verres had already packed up the contents of his house and was preparing to flee into exile.

Such was the state of affairs on the ninth day, when we brought Annius and Numitorius into court. If anything, the crowd in the Forum was bigger than ever, for there were now only two days left until Pompey's great games. Verres came late and obviously drunk. He stumbled as he climbed the steps of the temple up to the tribunal, and Hortensius had to steady him as the crowd roared with laughter. As he passed Cicero's place, he flashed him a shattered, red-eyed look of fear and rage -- the hunted, cornered look of an animal: the Boar at bay. Cicero got straight down to business and called as his first witness Annius, who described how he had been inspecting a cargo down at the harbor in Syracuse one morning when a friend had come running to tell him that their business associate, Herennius, was in chains in the forum and pleading for his life.

"So what did you do?"

"Naturally, I went at once."

"And what was the scene?"

"There were perhaps a hundred people crying out that Herennius was a Roman citizen and could not be executed without a proper trial."

"How did you all know that Herennius was a Roman? Was he not a banker from Spain?"

"Many of us knew him personally. Although he had business in Spain, he had been born to a Roman family in Syracuse and had grown up in the city."

"And what was Verres's response to your pleas?"

"He ordered Herennius to be beheaded immediately."

There was a groan of horror around the court.

"And who dealt the fatal blow?"

"The public executioner, Sextius."

"And did he make a clean job of it?"

"I am afraid he did not, no."

"Clearly," said Cicero, turning to the jury, "he had not paid Verres and his gang of thieves a large enough bribe."

For most of the trial, Verres had sat slumped in his chair, but on this morning, fired by drink, he jumped up and began shouting that he had never taken any such bribe. Hortensius had to pull him down. Cicero ignored him and went on calmly questioning his witness.

"This is an extraordinary situation, is it not? A hundred of you vouch for the identity of this Roman citizen, yet Verres does not even wait an hour to establish the truth of who he is. How do you account for it?"

"I can account for it easily, senator. Herennius was a passenger on a ship from Spain that was impounded with all its cargo by Verres's agents. He was sent to the Stone Quarries, along with everyone else on board, then dragged out to be publicly executed as a pirate. What Verres did not realize was that Herennius was not from Spain at all. He was known to the Roman community in Syracuse and would be recognized. But by the time Verres discovered his mistake, Herennius could not be allowed to go free, because he knew too much about what the governor was up to."

"Forgive me, I do not understand," said Cicero, playing the innocent. "Why would Verres want to execute an innocent passenger on a cargo ship as a pirate?"

"He needed to show a sufficient number of executions."

"Why?"

"Because he was being paid bribes to let the real pirates go free."

Verres was on his feet again shouting that it was a lie, and this time Cicero took a few paces toward him. "A lie, you monster? A lie? Then why in your own prison records does it state that Herennius was released? And why do they further state that the notorious pirate captain Heracleo was executed, when no one on the island ever saw him die? I shall tell you why -- because you, the Roman governor, responsible for the safety of the seas, were all the while taking bribes from the very pirates themselves!"

"Cicero, the great lawyer, who thinks himself so clever!" said Verres bitterly, his words slurred by drink. "Who thinks he knows everything! Well, here is something you do not know. I have Heracleo in my private custody, here in my house in Rome, and he can tell you all himself that it is a lie!"

Amazing now, to reflect that a man could blurt out something so foolish, but the facts are there -- they are in the record -- and amid the pandemonium in court, Cicero could be heard demanding of Glabrio that the famous pirate be fetched from Verres's house by the lictors and placed in proper official custody, "for the public safety." Then, while that was being done, he called as his second witness of the day Gaius Numitorius. Privately I thought that Cicero was rushing it too much: that he could have milked the admission about Heracleo for more. But the great advocate had sensed that the moment of the kill had arrived, and for months, ever since we had first landed in Sicily, he had known exactly the blade he wished to use. Numitorius swore an oath to tell the truth and took the stand, and Cicero quickly led him through his testimony to establish the essential facts about Publius Gavius: that he was a merchant traveling on a ship from Spain; that his ship had been impounded and the passengers all taken to the Stone Quarries, from which Gavius had somehow managed to escape; that he had made his way to Messana to take a ship to the mainland, had been apprehended as he went aboard, and had been handed over to Verres when he visited the town. The silence of the listening multitudes was intense.

"Describe to the court what happened next."

"Verres convened a tribunal in the forum of Messana," said Numitorius, "and then he had Gavius dragged before him. He announced to everyone that this man was a spy, for which there was only one just penalty. Then he ordered a cross set up overlooking the straits to Regium, so that the prisoner could gaze upon Italy as he died, and had Gavius stripped naked and publicly flogged before us all. Then he was tortured with hot irons. And then he was crucified."

"Did Gavius speak at all?"

"Only at the beginning, to swear that the accusation was not true. He was not a foreign spy. He was a Roman citizen, a councillor from the town of Consa, and a former soldier in the Roman cavalry, under the command of Lucius Raecius."

"What did Verres say to that?"

"He said that these were lies and commanded that the execution begin."

"Can you describe how Gavius met his dreadful death?"

"He met it very bravely, senator."

"Like a Roman?"

"Like a Roman."

"Did he cry out at all?"

"Only while he was being whipped and he could see the irons being heated."

"And what did he say?"

"Every time a blow landed, he said, 'I am a Roman citizen.'"

"Would you repeat what he said, more loudly please, so that all can hear."

"He said, 'I am a Roman citizen.'"

"So just that?" said Cicero. "Let me be sure I understand you. A blow lands" -- he put his wrists together, raised them above his head, and jerked forward, as if his back had just been lashed -- "and he says through gritted teeth, 'I am a Roman citizen.' A blow lands" -- and again he jerked forward -- "'I am a Roman citizen.' A blow lands. 'I am a Roman citizen.'"

The flat words of my transcript cannot hope to convey the effect of Cicero's performance upon those who saw it. The hush around the court amplified his words. It was as if all of us now were witnesses to this monstrous miscarriage of justice. Some men and women -- friends of Gavius, I believe -- began to scream, and there was a growing swell of outrage from the masses in the Forum. Yet again, Verres shook off Hortensius's restraining hand and stood up. "He was a filthy spy!" he bellowed. "A spy! He only said it to delay his proper punishment!"

"But he said it!" said Cicero triumphantly, wheeling on him, his finger jabbing in outrage. "You admit he said it! Out of your own mouth I accuse you -- the man claimed to be a Roman citizen, and you did nothing! This mention of his citizenship did not lead you to hesitate or delay, even for a little, the infliction of this cruel and disgusting death! If you, Verres, had been made a prisoner in Persia or the remotest part of India and were being dragged off to execution, what cry would you be uttering, except that you were a Roman citizen? What then of this man whom you were hurrying to his death? Could not that statement, that claim of citizenship, have saved him for an hour, for a day, while its truth was checked? No it could not -- not with you in the judgment seat! And yet the poorest man, of humblest birth, in whatever savage land, has always until now had the confidence to know that the cry 'I am a Roman citizen' is his final defense and sanctuary. It was not Gavius, not one obscure man, whom you nailed upon that cross of agony: it was the universal principle that Romans are free men!"

The roar that greeted the end of Cicero's tirade was terrifying. Rather than diminishing after a few moments, it gathered itself afresh and rose in volume and pitch, and I became aware, at the periphery of my vision, of a movement toward us. The awnings under which some of the spectators had been standing began to collapse with a terrible tearing sound. A man dropped off a balcony onto the crowd. There were screams. An unmistakable lynch mob began storming the steps to the platform. Hortensius and Verres stood up so quickly in their panic that they knocked over the bench behind them. Glabrio could be heard yelling that the court was adjourned, then he and his lictors hastened up the remaining steps toward the temple, with the accused and his eminent counsel in undignified pursuit. Some of the jury also fled into the sanctuary of the holy building (but not Catulus: I distinctly remember him standing like a sharp rock, staring unflinchingly ahead, as the current of bodies broke and swirled around him). The heavy bronze doors slammed shut. It was left to Cicero to try to restore order by climbing onto his own bench and gesturing for calm, but four or five men, rough-looking fellows, ran up and seized his legs and lifted him away. I was terrified, both for his safety and my own, but he stretched out his arms as if he was embracing the whole world. When they had settled him on their shoulders they spun him around to face the Forum. The blast of applause was like the opening of a furnace door and the chant of "Cic-er-o! Cic-er-o! Cic-er-o!" split the skies of Rome.

Copyright © 2006 by Robert Harris

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 60 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A fun read and good introduction to the life and times of Cicero

    Imperium is the first in a trilogy of novels about the life and times of Marcus Tullius Cicero, one of Republican Rome's most famous orators. The book is narrated by Tiro, Cicero's slave and secretary, many years after Cicero's death. Tiro existed and lived to be a hundred years old. He was famous for creating a short hand that he used for taking notes and later was adopted by the Senate. There is considerable evidence he wrote a biography of his former master, but those books are lost to history. Harris gives him back his voice.

    The story is primarily a political thriller-there is little physical action and only a scene or two in which there might be some physical danger. Tiro is a wonderful, sympathetic character-intelligent, loyal, hard-working; brave when he needs to be; and, at all times, discreet. His "voice," through Harris, is straightforward narrative with not a lot of reflection or poetry, but excellent descriptions of places and people-what you might expect from a person who spends his life listening, watching and recording.

    Harris does a good job of weaving the historical details into the narrative without boring the reader, but it still helps to have some background. There are plots within plots, shifting factions and loyalties, and the minutia of governing. Cicero walks a fine line trying not to alienate the men in power while not becoming their pawn. But with all his brilliance, he still makes enemies and, by the end, when he wins the imperium he so lusts for, they are lining up on all sides to take him down.

    Harris does us a favor bringing this famous Roman back to the public in such an accessible story. Since Latin is no longer required in high school or college, Cicero is fading from our collective memory, which is a shame-he profoundly affected our U.S. founding fathers. Because so many of his books and letters survived, his work became canon in studying the language and his views on a balanced government suffused the ideas of Enlightenment thinkers and are reflected in the US constitution. John Adams' first and most prized book was his Cicero. I recommend Imperium and will be looking forward to the next installment.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2009

    Historical Masterpiece

    Robert Harris has created and excellent work of combining history with a story that is suspenseful as well as informative. I believe lawyers as well as lovers of historical fiction would enjoy this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    A good read for ancient history buffs

    Very readable story. Told by Cicero's "secretary" who apparently recorded his almost every word during his rise to power in Ancient Rome. It held my interest because I knew little about this period of history. Am currently reading the second book in the trilogy. It's not a Dan Brown "page turner" but it's worth reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2009

    A Good Story of Ancient Roman Politics

    This is from the viewpoint of the slave of Cicero the orator (Tiro). Tiro invented a shorthand method that allowed him to take down every word of the proceedings that involved his famous master. Pompey and Caesar are characters in the book, but the story is about Cicero and his rise to power. Interesting reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent book

    This book was truly a page turner. Just as Harris did with Pompeii, the author has written a compelling thriller.
    This seems odd to say, as Imperium by definition deals with ancient history. Yet I was hanging on each page and waiting to read the outcome. Even though most readers are likekly somewhat acquainted with the factual history - whether as a history buff or a Stephen Saylor reader - the history is still written with a fresh edge and cliffhangers. Plus, the narrator Tiro is a fascinating character.
    I hope Harris writes a sequel to cover the remainder of Cicero's life!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2007

    Cicero oh Cicero

    When I first picked up this book I wasn't sure how it was going to be written more history or more fiction. Well I have to give kudos to Mr. Robert Harris for finding a very good balance always staying true to the historical aspects of the story while interjecting bits and pieces of fiction here and there. I enjoyed the scheme of this book instead of the usual historical fiction about conquering and war that most people associate with Rome he used the incredible politics of the day to arouse the interest of the reader of the book with incredible stories of prosecution, bribery, and at some points investigative work. I enjoy the also the fact that it was written from the point of view of Tiro seeing everything through his eyes is obviously different than seeing these actions through Cicero's. Overall I really enjoyed this book it is worth every cent you would pay for it except the fact that you at some points have an interest in the politics of Rome at the time to keep your interest through tedious points. Other than that I would really recommend this book and commend Mr. Harris for his work of craftmanship.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006

    Gladitorial Politics

    If you ever thought politics was an arena for elite, snobbish gentlemen, Robert Harris' 'Imperium' will toss you in with the lions with only your wits as a defence. This is politics on steroids where your life may depend on which side of the fence you are attempting to straddle and the aristocracy is every bit as lethal in a close fight as a gladiator. Harris' is a superb storyteller who deftly handles a subject which is a yawner (for me) and, as in his previous novel 'Pompeii', crafts a real corker of a tale of intrigue and corruption. 'New man' in the arena is the historical Cicero who is an expert litigator with his eye on the top spot in Roman politics. When he states at the beginning that, as defense attorney, his job is to present a vigorous defence and that guilt or innocence is decided by the court you may be tempted to view him as the precursor to all the bad lawyer jokes you've ever heard. But Harris' character layering is excellent and we begin to empathize with Cicero and watching his character development is as rewarding as watching him defend a case or develop his political strategies. As fascinating in it's detail of ancient Roman political, military and domestic life as 'Pompeii', you will come to the end of this first novel of a planned trilogy cheering and looking forward to the second act.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Some things never change.

    Marcus T Cicero is a great character for this novel. Being a story told by his servant makes this an intriguing read. If you enjoy politics and are aware of the behavior of history's leaders you should read this book. You'll compare it to our current house/senate.

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  • Posted December 11, 2011

    There is Nothing New Under the Sun

    This is a wry overview of Roman history at the time of Cicero served with dry wit and style. The political machinations could be taken from today's pages of the Washington Post ex the Roman murder and torture part. (No, wait, we have that too!)Always amusing and well written, this is more than escapist fiction. I highly recommend for those with an interest in history and politics.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2011

    Highly recommended

    If you like Lindsey Davis you'll like this. A very readable story set in a great historical backround

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2011

    Excellent historical fiction!

    Excellent novel! Tons of Roman history tied into an amazing story line that keeps you guessing!

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  • Posted July 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A very slow but thorough potential version of Roman life.

    Its really hard to give a review on this because, although interesting at times, this book reads like an encyclopedia. I liked it....I think.....at least a little. Ancient Roma ploitics could be riddled with action and to a point this tale had action but it was all verbal which seemed tedious. I loved Fatherland by Harris bu have been less thrilled with all his other works so far. This didn't live up to the hype and my expectations.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2009

    Attention Holding

    I didn't think I would really enjoy this book until I got past the first couple of chapters. Politics in ancient Rome before Christ: this book will hold you captive. If you liked "I, Claudius", you will like this book. A run for the Roman Senate is more captivating and exciting than a run for the US Senate. I've also read The Ghost by Robert Harris. I could not put that book down!!

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Oh, those Romans...

    Interesting approach to the machinations of ancient Rome's political scheming by telling the story through Cicero's secretary. A little dry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great for history lovers.

    This novel was well done. Robert Harris admittedly inserted some things from his imagination, but they were well within the realm of things that could have taken place in ancient Rome. It follows Marcus Tullius Cicero, who was a real Roman politician, on his way through the ranks of The Republics governing system from a servants point of view.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2007

    Roman Politics -- No different from ours today!

    Ancient Rome provides names such as Caesar, Crassus, Pompey, Verres, Tiro and Cicero. These are all great men in history except for the slave, Tiro. It is from this slave¿s viewpoint that this audio book, IMPERIUM, is written. Tiro becomes Cicero¿s private secretary by developing shorthand that is used to take down every word spoken when Cicero needs it done. The story takes Cicero from a simple lawyer to the very top of Roman rule. While I am not a great history buff and don¿t remember much of what I did read in school, I know my husband who is such a buff will love this CD. The politics of Rome is no different than the politics of today as the story takes you through the twist and turns of the wealth and greed of the greatest men in Rome. There are descriptions of how voting was done at that time and of the great homes. It also tells how Cicero managed to climb his way up in the political arena with his great speeches and a mind that was quick to find the pieces needed to sway those in greater power to his side. The reader, Simon Jones, has a British accent that adds to the fact that he is reading about Rome. His is clear and easy to listen to and provides different accents for the different characters. If you love courtroom drama and Roman history, this CD will provide you with many hours of great listening.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2007

    Politics in Ancient Rome

    Cicero was one of the great orators and statesmen of ancient Rome. This fictional biography, from the point of view of his slave and secretary Tiro, covers the first forty years of his life. It chronicles his rise through the ranks of the Senate to the ultimate office of consul. It's well-written, yet because I'm not crazy about politics, I didn't enjoy it as much as the author's earlier work, Pompeii. Apparently there will be a sequel to this in the future, which I assume will be as well-researched as this novel. Recommended for fans of the machinations of politics - in any day and age.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2007

    Meh

    The story in this book is great. Cicero is a captivating man, and the story of his life is an interesting read. However, the book is poorly written, with the narrator constantly thrusting himself into the story as if you will forgot who tells it (and truthfully, if he did not do that you WOULD forget who tells it). Worth the read for the story of Cicero's life, but not worth spending the money. Borrow it if you can.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2007

    What a great gift.

    I recieved this book as a christmas gift and gave it a little time before it found its way to being read. I was so taken by it's storyline that I was compelled to learn more about the life of Cicero and the art of shorthand. It is a great book-perhaps one of the best I've read in a long time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2007

    are you not entertained

    This was my first robert harris novel, but it won't be the last. Looking forward to the next two in the cycle!

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