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167 Reviews
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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An attempt to humanise a rather unlikeable man...
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...
Published on 7 Mar 2008 by Mr. Thomas Thatcher

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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good recreation of ancient Rome
Robert Harris ventures into the murky world of 1st century BC Rome, and tells the tale of the lawyer and orator Cicero, as told by his secretary Tiro - the man credited with inventing the world's first workable shorthand system.

Harris efficiently and effectively creates the last decades of the Roman Republic. However, somehow for me he doesn't quite bring off...
Published on 21 Sep 2006 by Tim62


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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 13 Sep 2010
This review is from: Imperium (Paperback)
I think I have read all bar one of R Harris's novels and I am a big fan. Really enjoyed Pompei Fatherland Enigma etc but the last two I have read The Ghost and especially this Book Imperium I have been quite disappointed by. It's not the worst book I've read but there are much better reads out there especially by the author himself. It never really goes anywhere. It is predictable and lacking in any really edge or excitement. You are left thinking 'is that it?'
As I said I really like most of Harris's stuff but maybe like most authors he is only good for about a half dozen stories then they are done. But because of the lure of big money contracts they churn out fairly average fare as they become bored with the process.
That said I gave it two stars but it's probably worth two and a half as I did keep going reading it fairly quickly so it must have kept my interest.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, a real struggle to finish, 28 Dec 2007
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This review is from: Imperium (Mass Market Paperback)
Having loved all of Robert Harris's previous books, and having studied both Classics and Cicero at depth, It was with great anticipation that I bought Imperium. However, I found the book frankly rather boring and I almost stopped reading it on a number of occassions (something I never do) due to the endless speeches and paragraphs and a main character who was very two dimensional. I persevered and it did get better towards the end but I won't be rereading it in a hurry.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cicero for tabloid readers, 4 Dec 2007
This review is from: Imperium (Mass Market Paperback)
Whilst any literature on one of politics finest orators and philosophers is welcomed, this, at the risk of sounding snobbish is too low brow. A wealth of original material has been left by Cicero and it would have been nice to have seen some of his original speeches incorporate into the novel itself. The book is by and large fairly accurate, and though at times descends into a tabloid like slang, is still quite readable. The character and relationship development is quite weak, especially that between Cicero and his wife, that coupled with the flaws in the dialogue prevent this from being a great read. That said, it is pleasant enough and I will, most likely, buying the second part in the series.
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9 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read, 11 Sep 2006
This review is from: Imperium (Hardcover)
I admire Robert Harris very much and look forward eagerly to his new novels. Imperium does not disappoint. Totally absorbing. Well paced, compelling in style and refreshingly different. Read it.
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 6 Aug 2007
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R. G. Mabbitt (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Imperium (Mass Market Paperback)
After enjoying all his other books I bought this one with great anticipation. However I found it a big disappointment. Not nearly as good as Pompeii. Seems like he was short of ideas and has tried to make something out of nothing. Very dry, and very shallow characterisations.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 11 Sep 2010
This review is from: Imperium (Mass Market Paperback)
Having read Fatherland as a teenager, i rediscovered Robert Harris in imperium, loved every minute of it - surprised myself. Great historic, political and even educational insight into Roman times. Gripping, well written and i'm now eager to read more of his publications.
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Imperium, 14 Sep 2007
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Ian Walmsley (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Imperium (Mass Market Paperback)
Robert Harris has written some of my favourite books, Fatherland was brilliant, as was Archangel. Pompeii was good, but not that good. This one is really hard going. It is like a dull history lesson, over-researched and with so many Roman names you will only remember them if you are used to remembering school classes on the first day. Read it if you want to know how much Robert Harris learnt about Rome when researching Pompeii, but don't expect the excitement of the earlier work.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pedestrian, 6 Nov 2010
This review is from: Imperium (Mass Market Paperback)
Though I quite like some of Robert Harris' other books (Fatherland, Pompeii), this was an extremely pedestrian book and uninvolving read.

It didn't succeed as a historical novel - unlike The Name of the Rose, one's not thrown into a strange and mysterious world full of foreign beliefs and dangerous intrigues that reflect and illustrate the dominant themes of the age. Any information relevant to the `story', such as it is, is dutifully and literally conveyed, but the voice of the narrator could very well be an ex-public schoolboy, or an old Oxbridge friend, for all the imagination that goes into the language.

It didn't succeed as a thriller or an intrigue - it's not thrilling or intriguing, and Cicero's journey is free of twists, both psychological and physical. This seemed like a real shame, as the story of someone who compromises his ideals in order to progress - both personally *and* to be a player in history, as opposed to a principled, but side-lined, philosopher - is present (and, of course, there are parallels to the NewLabour project and Harris' old chum TB), but not brought out in any way that makes you feel the tragedy and the sadness of Cicero's journey to power.

It didn't succeed as a metaphor or theme for modern politics either - the odd parallel appears, but is not really developed.

In the end, perhaps it did a little of each, but none of them well enough to engage me or to make me care. It's an easy read and, unlike some of the other reviewers here, I felt there was always just enough happening to avoid boredom. But there are better ways to pass the time.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Roman Potboiler, 8 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Imperium (Paperback)
After reading Ghost I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately I was very disapointed. There were more characters than would have been in the Rome phone book, and all of them were very two dimensional. The book lacked atmosphere; it gave me no sense of life in Roman times.
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27 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very dissapointing follow-on to Pompei !, 15 Oct 2006
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This review is from: Imperium (Hardcover)
The biggest problem with this book is that the story is frankly not that interesting, lacking any suspense or narrative tension that was present in Pompei. The veneer of historical detail is not sufficient to distract from the weak treatement given to the fantastic story that was the life of Cicero.

The best way to describe this book would be as an "Airport" or "holiday" fluff read, enjoyable as a distraction but ultimately unfulfilling.

I really enjoyed Richard Harris's previous, I hope the next is better.
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Imperium
Imperium by Robert Harris (Paperback - 1 Oct 2009)
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