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Imperium Hardcover – 4 Sep 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; First Edition, First Printing edition (4 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091800951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091800956
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Harris is the author Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium and The Ghost - all of which were worldwide bestsellers. His work has been translated into thirty-three languages. He was born in Nottingham in 1957 and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He worked as a reporter on the BBC's Newsnight and Panorama programmes, before becoming Political Editor of the Observer in 1987, and then a columnist on the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph. In 2003 he was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards. He lives near Hungerford in Berkshire with his wife and their four children.

Product Description

Review

‘Fascinating… Imperium masterfully dramatises issues not only
pertinent to a vanished world but to our own.’ -- Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

‘Genres ancient and modern have rarely been so skilfully
synthesised… Gripping and accomplished.’ -- Tom Holland, Guardian

‘Harris [is] a truly gifted, razor-sharp writer... Enormously
entertaining.’
-- Daily Telegraph

‘Harris’s best so far, rapid and compelling in narrative…
thoroughly researched but also, which is more important, thoroughly
imagined… Irresistible’ -- Allan Massie, Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

Ancient Rome is the setting for the stunning new novel from Robert Harris, the number one bestselling author of Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel and Pompeii. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. J. Downing on 2 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert Harris is probably my favourite author. Fatherland, Pompeii, Archangel and Enigma are all cracking good reads. Essentials, even. However, if one criticism could be levelled at their author, it is that they all seem to follow a vaguely similar theme. Each follow a different hero on a detective-style mystery set against the backdrop of a massively powerful, but, we gradually find out, fundamentally corrupt, political instituation, where the denouement sees the hero's actions sending shockwaves through the system in which he lives.

The novel Imperium takes a break from this theme. We follow Marcus Cicero, Roman lawyer, orator and statesman, as he follows his dream of becoming one of Rome's two Consuls.

Harris excels in creating three-dimensional characters (Dan Brown, sit up and take note, with your bland Hollywood cut-outs). Imperium is populated by alternatively brilliant, flawed, amusing, venal and/or monstrously cruel Romans. I followed their individual rises and falls with glee. Harris plays particularly well to Cicero's historical strength - that of his public oratory. The scenes set in the senate and court houses are worth the entry fee alone.

Having discarded the crutches of the plot devices used in his prevously mentioned books, Harris does not quite manage to recapture their cannot-put-downability. However, this means Imperium is merely very good, rather than a must-read.

On a side note, it's interesting to compare the two different, but very nearly contemporary, Romes of Conn Iggulden's Emperor series (lots of wars and disciplined Roman legions) and Robert Harris' Imperium (politicking, scheming and intrigue).
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Thomas Thatcher on 7 Mar. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Through Latin A level and later at university, I read a great deal of Marcus Tullius Cicero's writings and found them, unusually, very hard going. While we all appreciate that he pulled himself up by his bootstraps, brain and linguistic ability, he comes across, nonetheless, as an arrogant bore, stuffed full of himself and with an incredbile ability to irritate others. His ability to write golden Latin is beyond all doubt, and Queen Elizabeth I's proudest boast was that she could write "Ciceronian" Latin.

"Against Verres", the speech that is the subject of this novel, is Cicero's prosecution of Verres, ex-Governor of Sicily. Verres, even given Cicero's hatchet job in 70 BC, seems to have been a pretty loathsome creature who plundered and intimidated his subjects openly and without remorse or guilt. The remainder of the novel is concerned with Cicero's climb up the greasy pole to real power and all the resulting intrigues and plotting. Fascinating stuff, and as Mr Harris said, if what he propounds did not actually happen, then something like it probably did. After all, 2 + 2 generally makes 5 - ish.

Harris has obviously done his research here and the bones of the historical fact are fleshed out by a very entertianing novel. He is an extremly funny writer in an "ars celat artem" way and the various discussion and debates in this novel are extremely amusing: Cicero's comments about marriage will make you laugh out loud, and many other passages will cause you to smile.

Harris' characterisation is very good indeed, and Cicero comes over as a prissy, self-important, principled yet proud man who in real life I have always found insufferable. In this, he appears rather like a cross between the late Bob Monkhouse and Rumpole of the Bailey and becomes likeable.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Philip Murray on 15 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Imperium proved to be my vessel for my first venture into the works of Robert Harris. This 400 page epic really is a fantastic read. The style, written from the point of view of the protagonist's slave, Tiro, is light enough to provide easy reading while providing enough artistic flourishes to invoke fascination and respect for this fantastic author. Several reviews have commented on the fact that this book isn't thrilling, but I must disagree. Yes, the book is not action-packed with violence, fighting, sex, etc, but through Harris's characterisation, attention to detail and quasi-non-fictitious style we, that is the audience, are truly drawn into the world of Cicero and his political conquests; a truly thrilling experience. One section of the book which is particularly thrilling, yet still within the political context of the book, is near the end when Cicero dispatches his loyal slave Tiro, inventor of the short-hand system, to spy on a meeting between some rival senators. The tense atmosphere which oozes out of the pages in this section really will have you stuck text! However, the real beauty of this book has to be its setting, as well as Harris's ability to encapsulate the reader in the world of the ancient Roman Empire; never for a moment are we forced to accept that this is a work of fiction, and it can easily be believe to be a translated copy of Tiro's real memoirs from long ago. This really is a truly excellent read, I recommend it to anyone.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Robert Harris had world wide acclaim for his novel Pompeii and once you have had such praise it is very difficult to live up to the expectation of the reading public with a follow up book. In Harris's case he has not only lived up to the expectation, but in my opinion exceeded it by some distance.

Pompeii was a wonderful book and I enjoyed it tremendously and it is impossible to compare it with Imperium as like for like book, because they are not. Yes they are both about Romans and the Roman Empire but that is where the similarity ends.

Imperium is about the life and times of Cicero as told by Tiro, his secretary. It is the story of how one man - ambitious, clever, compassionate, devious, and vulnerable fights his way to be Consul of Rome

Cicero, one of the most famous Romans of all time. A man who had great political ambitions, but one who hated war and was in the main a pacifist. He served only briefly in the military as a young man and this at a time when men of Cicero's background used the military as a stepping stone to improve their political ambitions and gain high office.

Instead Cicero chose a career in law and proved to be an excellent orator and a shrewd politician. He was elected to each of the Roman offices (quaestor, aedile, praetor, and consul) on his first try and at the earliest age at which he was legally allowed to run for them. Having held office made him a member of the Roman Senate. During his term as consul (the highest Roman office) in 63 BC he was responsible for unravelling and exposing the conspiracy of Catiline.
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