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.
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
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.
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.
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.
"Meticulous, absorbing and informative." - The New York Times Book Review
"A joy to read in every way." - The Independent
"An entertainingly vivid picture of one of history's most fascinating elected officials." - USA Today
"Harris's zest for political machinations serves the material well." The Washington Post
"A minutely observed political novel...set during the most poignant era in ancient Roman history." Newsday (New York)
"In Harris's hands the great game [of politics] becomes a beautiful one." The Times (London)
"Excellent.... Full of back-biting and double-dealing, compromise and intrigue." Time Out