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126 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark deeds and infighting
Make no mistake, this book is about politics. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's Rome in 60BC - this novel could easily be set in Westminster or Washington, present day. In other words, politics and politicians don't change. They conspire, they lie, they seek alliances with enemies merely to further their own ambitions. And in the end, they're either found out or...
Published on 16 Oct 2009 by Jeff

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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Graves Robber
Robert Harris is today's Robert Graves, not only in his choice of subject matter, but in his storytelling. Just as Graves chose a slave to tell the story of Count Belisarius in 1938, Harris chooses Tiro. This is no minor matter or coincidence, as the entire point of view comes from this narrator, giving him both intimacy and distance, a trick Graves used to excellent...
Published on 18 Nov 2009 by The Outsider


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126 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark deeds and infighting, 16 Oct 2009
By 
Jeff "roadrunner" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
Make no mistake, this book is about politics. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's Rome in 60BC - this novel could easily be set in Westminster or Washington, present day. In other words, politics and politicians don't change. They conspire, they lie, they seek alliances with enemies merely to further their own ambitions. And in the end, they're either found out or destroyed. Harris' novel 'The Ghost' has a very thinly-veiled Tony Blair and I don't think the present shenanigans can have been far from Harris' mind even when writing about Cicero. Take this from early on : "Now we have occupied Syria. What business do we have in Syria? This is going to require permanent legions stationed overseas." Sound familiar? Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the book very much. I thought at first it didn't have the sheer lust for power evident in 'Imperium' but once you start to see Julius Caesar's plotting, you realise this isn't the case. At the end, I found myself wondering how I felt about Cicero. Did I feel sorry for him or was he the victim of his own machinations? You can decide for yourself. Excellent cover, I thought - the hounds and the deer. Highly recommended but I'm not sure it's going to be to everyone's taste.
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140 of 147 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expiation (Lustrum) after Power (Imperium), 2 Oct 2009
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
Lustrum is the deserving sequel to Harris's Imperium - though it is also readable on its own. It picks up where the first book of the trilogy-in-progress left off: Cicero has just been elected consul. The year 63BC begins. Cicero is faced with the same hostility from corrupt senatorial peers, oblivious to threats from the immensely wealthy Crassus and the rising stars of popular Rome that are Caesar and Pompey. But Cicero also makes mistakes. He turns down a land law amid rural distress, debt, and a grain shortage. The demagogues soon seize upon this to launch the murkiest and most desperate conspiracy the Republic has seen. This is led by none other than Catiline, the debauched patrician playboy whom Cicero had to defeat at the consular stakes. And Catiline has friends, he is unafraid of violence, and is bent on vengeance.

Cicero's life was eventful in itself, but it also took place within the most tumultuous of Roman times. And Cicero's own writings were profuse. So Harris's trilogy can afford to rely on, at times becoming almost a palimpsest of, the original documents, and the Imperium series are that rare thing: a historically faithful work that is at the same time a great yarn. Though I'd read and enjoyed some Harris before, I heard of the Ciceronian trilogy through an eminent professor of classics. She said she found no historical mistake in it, and that it captures the spirit of the times as she imagines it. This is isn't to belittle Harris as a storyteller. He knows when to build anticipation and what to insist on for drama. The idea was brilliant of having the story told by Tiro, Cicero's slave secretary, who actually existed and wrote a lost biography of his master. If anything, Lustrum offers more action and tension than Imperium. It is also darker, beginning with the murder of a child, and more lurid, answering our fantasies of Roman decadence.

Lustrum became the term for the five-year period between each taking of the census, when the censors purged the morally unfit from the body politic, especially from the senate. As the late Republic's conflicts became increasingly acrimonious, one after the other of the censuses failed to be performed - and Cicero became ever more anxious at what he saw as a double tale of moral and constitutional decay. We will eagerly be awaiting the final episode of Harris's trilogy: into the Civil War.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quousque tandem?, 5 Oct 2009
By 
Ventura Angelo (Brescia, Lombardia Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
Magnificent historical recollection of tragic times through the life of a protagonist, the staunch defensor of the Roman Republic Marcus Tullius Cicero.I like how the Catiline Conspiracy is narrated as if it were a modern polytical thriller,yet making us feel immersed in those ancient times quite convincingly,making us appreciate the tragic moral dilemmas Cicero had to face, amidst ambiguous friends,unrelenting foes,and powerful men as Caesar, Pompey and Crassus. A great novel to rival Steven Saylor's "Catilina's Riddle" in Roma sub Rosa series!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Sequel, can we have the last part in less than 3 years?, 9 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Lustrum (Paperback)
I am an avid reader of all subjects relating to the ancient world from Herotodus to Gibbon to Tom Holland, and as such, when I realised that a quality writer was going to approach this subject I was excited. In Imperium and Lustrum, Harris does not disappoint.

The fall of the Roman Republic could seem from the outside to be a dry academic subject, but as Tom Holland and now Harris have shown, it was in fact an incredibly dramatic period and full of individual triumphs (literally) and trajedies.

In Lustrum Harris continues his portrait of Cicero through the words of his secretary Tiro. While Imperium covered Cicero's rise to power within Rome, Lustrum focuses upon what wielding that power means. While both novels are similar in terms of content, they are taking us toward the apex of this story - the eventual fall of the republic.

The character and rise of Caeser is particularly well handled in Lustrum. Rather than the leviathan that the later Roman Empire painted him as, he is more accurately portrayed as a broke, down on his luck aristocrat, who is prepared to do anything to regain his families lost prestige. The fact that he is seen a shadowy puppet master, helps in building the ominous feeling in a story where most people will know the ultimate end of the tale.

My only complaint about this trilogy,is possibly that it is a trilogy. I read Imperium nearly 3 years ago and before beginning Lustrum, I felt it was necessary to re-read part 1. If we have to wait another 3 year for the final part, I will no doubt have to re-read parts 1 and 2 in preparation which can get tedious. Although it is stated in Lustrum that you do not need to read all parts and that each part stands alone, I cannot see the point of knowing part of the story. Apart from anything else, Cicero's rise and fall as a metaphor for the republic itself is sort of the point of the trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ON LUSTRUM, 3 Nov 2009
By 
Bader N. O. Alsaleh (Dhahran 31311, East Province Saudi Arabia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine. A good HF could become a vehicle for time travel in which you are transported to a different place and period where it is sometimes exotic other times erotic it could be frightening and it could be exhilarating but it is a Joyce experience. In Lustrum I have experienced all this and it was exceptionally great. I have not read a captivating and intriguing HF for some time. The characters are in full dimension you can nearly see them and interact with them. the setting is grand that being Rome of the ancient world while I am immersed in this novel I have felt myself experiencing the ruff and tangle in standing among the multitude of masses in the forum finding myself cheering and sometimes booing at the spectacles displayed with the repulsive stink of the mob overwhelming and the chanting haunting. The period is volatile and the consequences of the actions taken have become a watershed that influenced the course of history. The level of intrigue and political maneuvering in Lustrum is so intense how not with such larger than life characters Cicero, Caesar, Pompey, Cato the lot. It reflects the on goings in state and government affairs in any period and in particular our time. Imperium was great but Lustrum was superlative. Robert Harris's plot lines and themes are uncanny, at times I felt myself being swept in the vortex of political alliances and senatorial debates. This is a historical political thriller of the first order and from my experience you don't find them in abundance. It is in a class with Archer's First Among Equals and Ejii Yoshikawa's Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan.I would advice reading Tom Holland Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic before getting in to Lustrum it will provide the perspective that will make Lustrum a fascinating and informative read.

Robert don't make us wait long for the third installment of this trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five more years., 18 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
I've enjoyed many of Robert Harris's books, and this one is certainly not an exception. The book deals mainly with Cicero's consulship, his changing allegiances and the rise of powers within Rome that seek autocratic power such as Caesar, Crassus, Pompey and Catalina. The book therefore deals with Cicero's famous involvement in the Cataline conspiracy and the subsequent fallout with Clodius. Generally the book is historically accurate in terms of the events, but it does deviate from the order slightly for dramatic effect. In comparison to the previous novel Imperium, Lustrum is as well written but somewhat faster paced and rich with intrigues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb read, 5 Nov 2009
This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
The only dissapointment with this book was coming to the end and knowing I would have to wait another 18 months for the last in The Trilogy!!

I was captivated by Imperium and although it's not totally necessary to have read Imperium before lustrum your enjoyment will be much enhanced if you do so

Once again the narrative as relayed by Tiro who is cicero's slave is richly coloured and evoke's everything about ancient Rome. Cicero Pompeii Caesar et all all come alive and one has to admire Harris's ability to desribe and recount the huge personality clashes between the huge ego's.

I loved this book - roll on the 3rd part
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in how to make ancient history come alive, 8 Nov 2009
By 
John Walter ""JW"" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
Robert Harris has an extraordinary knack of bringing ancient history to life. It's unusual to be able to say that a book based on things that happened over 2000 years ago could be exciting - but Lustrum certainly is. Political and public Life in Ancient Rome was every bit as full of intrigue and underhand activities as it is today! Although it's not critical, it helps if you've already read Harris's previous book Imperium, as Lustrum carries on the story of Cicero's life. A real page-turner.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Graves Robber, 18 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
Robert Harris is today's Robert Graves, not only in his choice of subject matter, but in his storytelling. Just as Graves chose a slave to tell the story of Count Belisarius in 1938, Harris chooses Tiro. This is no minor matter or coincidence, as the entire point of view comes from this narrator, giving him both intimacy and distance, a trick Graves used to excellent effect. Harris takes up Graves' cynical view of Rome - as in both the Claudius books and Belisarius - complete with a raging politics of immorality and power grabbing. The one missing ingredient is the centrality of venal women in all of Graves' books.In this day of feminism, women are minor characters characters, occasionally bad (Clodia, for example) or weak (wife Terentia -'Marriage to you has been the only purpose of my life!'), but the true villains are all testosterone fuelled men like Caesar, Pompey, Catilina, etc. This makes Lustrum read a bit old fashioned, and Graves much more modern.

Cicero is a legal Belisarius, moral and upright, in a world that does not value this kind of valour. Harris fills the story with wordy set pieces, so appropriate for his windbag hero. The best part of the story is how Cicero is brought down by his own hubris and blindness to other's resentments and designs. Is Cicero meant to be Harris's former friend Tony Blair, another windbag brought down by hubris? I enjoyed the tale despite all of this. I don't think Harris is great at dialogue, and his tale is also let down sometimes by leaden prose. But there is enough in Lustrum to keep you reading until the story comes to second act conclusion. Now we await the third.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From strength to strength., 15 Jan 2010
This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
I can't help but feel that both "Imperium" and "Lustrum" owe their existence to a certain extent to Coleen McCullough's "First Man in Rome" series and that they offer an alternative to her novels. Robert Harris is certainly less forgiving of Caesar who, up until now at least, has been a minor figure in his two novels. If this supposition is true all I can say is - let's have more! This is more than a simple thriller. It offers an alternative view of Caesar and the fall of the Roman Republic that, if somewhat conservative, is nevertheless a magnificent piece of writing. While Coleen McCullough deliberately places the trial of Ribarius after the Cataline rebellion in order to put Caesar in a better light, Robert Harris adopts the majority view of historians that it actually took place before. This is more than some obscure historical point - it drives right to the heart of how Ciccero and Caesar should be regarded. There is not much difference in how the two authors portray the characters in this tale - historical fact leaves little room for manouvre - but Robert Harris does a wonderful job nontheless. Ciccero is a little braver, a little more honourable, while Caesar is a little colder, more selfish and more prone to making mistakes.

As a fictionalised account of this period Robert Harris's book is simply brilliant and I look forward to the third in the series with great relish.
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Lustrum
Lustrum by Robert Harris (Paperback - 8 July 2010)
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