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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engineering mystery, municipal corruption, natural disaster
An Aquarius (aqueduct engineer) mysteriously goes missing so a new one has to be appointed. The water stops flowing down the Aqua Augusta. The new Aquarius must find the source of the problem quickly because there's a drought and several towns along the bay of Naples are entirely dependent on the aqueduct for their water. He persuades the Admiral, Pliney (the elder),...
Published on 1 Aug 2004 by Sally-Anne

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated but interesting novel
I could have written a one sentence review of "Pompeii" such as "Nothing much happens and then a volcano goes off", but that would be cruel and ignore the many positive and absorbing aspects of this novel.Nearly everyone has heard the story of the destruction of Pompeii by Vesuvius from their schooldays or, more likely, from Frankie Howard films and how the decadent...
Published on 20 Oct 2004 by L. Davidson


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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magisterial!, 9 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Pompeii (Hardcover)
As a former classics student ( more years ago than I care to remember at Cambridge!) I approached this work with trepidation, fearing Mr Harris would sacrifice verissmilitude in favour of accessibility for the non-specialist. I need not have worried. There are some minor inaccuracies and some of the dialogue verged on the parodic (like Hollywood war films where the Germans say Ja! ) but otherwise I was entirely comfortable with Mr Harris's portrayal of the ethos of ancient Rome. As I have not read a novel for many years I am not equipped to say whether it is good by modern standards. I can, notwithstanding this, declare that I enjoyed it greatly. I hope my stature as a classic graduate carries weight with potential readers who know nothing of the Ancient World.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Explosive Enough!!, 16 Aug 2007
By 
J.Flood (Dublin,Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
Pompeii, is set, as you can probably guess, in the last few days, before the destruction of that town, by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in 79 A.D. I felt, the author's attention to detail was very good, but that some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional. A lot of time was spent on the build up to the eruption, but I felt the author did not spend enough time on the actual town of Pompeii, a lot of the book is set in the surrounding towns. Overall though, not a bad read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 3 April 2007
By 
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
Could not put this book down.

This book is the best historical novel I have read in a long time and I cannot wait to read his next Roman offering Imperium. The author keeps you guessing throughout as to wether the central character will survive.

I have not read any of this authors previous books as the subjects are not my usual read. However, given how well the plot weaves in this book I am certainly considering reading his back catalogue.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 29 Nov 2003
This review is from: Pompeii (Hardcover)
I loved this book and so did my husband. It was more to do with the lead up to the eruption which we found so interesting, especially when modern day research is added to it at the begining of each chapter. I found it very interesting and such an enjoyable read. It has romance, history, science and anticipation all in one book. Couldn't put it down!.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 24 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Pompeii (Kindle Edition)
Best account ever of 'Pompeii' and the great eruption.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A cannot put down book!!!", 5 Oct 2011
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
I started to read this book on my honeymoon in Pompeii......much to the dismay of my husband .....it was such a gripping read, I couldnt put it down!!! My boss had recommended the book to me, having read it herself whilst in Pompeii. We were very lucky to have a balcony room looking out to Mount Vesuvius so the setting was perfect. I havent quite finished it yet but it is going to be one of those books that by the end I am going to be sad to have finished it! A compelling read but tinged with real sadness and the sheer terror of what happened. No one believed those giving warning of the signs........maybe a lesson to be heeded today.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why did Harris start writing about ancient Rome?, 15 Feb 2011
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
This is not a bad novel, and not a cracking good one either. You canter through it happily, not getting too involved with the characters or having your nerves twanged too much. I don't regret reading it, but I wasn't reading until 2am with pounding heart, the way I was with Enigma, Fatherland and Archangel.

First, the positives. The sense of place is wonderful. The bay of Naples area is conjured up beautifully, as is Roman architecture and wealth - all those pools and gardens. The aqueduct sections are good, if dense. The weather is important in the story and is well written. You really can feel the stifling heat of Campania in August weighing down on you - and of course, you know something about that stifling heat that the characters don't. The pressure in the atmosphere builds literally and metaphorically towards the eruption, and it's very clever.

Two main - and quite major - faults. First, the characters moving across this fantastic landscape are cardboard cut-outs; it's as if Harris can't quite believe in these two-thousand-year-old people himself. The dialogue has none of his usual spareness and seems trapped in a 1960s afternoon play version of ancient Rome (even with the swearing). The only character I cared about at all was Pliny the Elder, and that's only because we have his nephew's eyewitness account of his role. The section where Harris lightly reworks this account has the only strong tension and character-development in the book. A pity he couldn't match Pliny the Younger's narrative powers elsewhere!

Even more of a problem is the research. Harris has done a lot of it and he's damn well going to tell us about it, whether it's germane or not. This is a basic bloomer in historical novel-writing, and I don't think a new writer would get away with so much telling and not showing. This passage from the second page, for instance:

"He wiped the sweat from his eyes on the sleeve of his tunic. Such shimmering, feverish heavens they had here in the south! Even this close to daybreak, a great hemisphere of stars swept down to the horizon. He could see the horns of Taurus, and the belt and sword of the Hunter; there was Saturn, and also the Bear, and the constellation they called the Vintager, which always rose for Caesar on the twenty-second day of August, following the Festival of Vinalia, and signalled that it was time to harvest the wine."

Sheesh. Now I know how the characters felt when they were wading through all that pumice.

I'm not sure why Harris started writing about ancient Rome. On the evidence of this and the Cicero novels, he's not nearly as good at it as he is the twentieth-century novels. I suspect he's a little bit in thrall to the whole idea of Rome, and sees it as a magnificent story in itself, with no need for such mere things as tension and character development. He hasn't yet grappled with Rome as confidently as he does more recent territory, and weaker books are the result.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing special, 5 Feb 2014
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
You want to keep reading, but once you finish this novel you realise that it is typical Harris: predictable, mediocre and uninspiring. In the hands of a really good writer, this novel would ahve been great but, quite frankly, I fould it dull and completely lacking in any suspense and excitement.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much is simmering here..., 26 Dec 2004
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
It's hard to describe this book without using a word one would associate with a volcano...but I'll try.
The word "unputdownable" was created for novels like this one.
Harris aims to bring ancient history to the public and does so brilliantly. The result is an accesible doorway into a fascinating few days in history. It is entertaining and massively educational.
The modern thriller style and characters' conversations seeming rather contemporary may put some readers off as it may all seem a little Hollywood-ish. But I thought this style made the characters easier to empathise with though, and much more human.
I really hope to see this explosive- sorry, excellent- novel made into a film because if its done with as much dexterity as Harris weaves into his book, it could be a fast-paced epic adventure with parallels to our time. Maybe what Harris makes us realise here is that in 2000 years we- people and society- have not really changed that much. It should transfer to celluloid well, and I see it being a movie to rival Gladiator, and maybe even Troy (!) An actor like Jude Law could fit the sandels of the young hero of the novel, Marcus Attilius, a man of integrity in a corrupt world.

Back to the book. I adored the insight into ancient Roman life and I didn't find it at all encyclopaedic. The rich history is weaved skillfully into the exciting and compelling narrative that's full of mystery. The main question which runs through the novel is "what has happened to the missing engineer who Attilius has suceeded?" Of course, one of the most enjoyable elements of the book is the delicious dramatic irony. Some of the one liners are so tantalisingly ironic they just made me smile. Reading about the prosperous future the citizens see for the town is just brilliant, because we can see the double meanings and they can't.
There's plenty to indulge in here. I was foolishly put off by the fact the main character is an engineer and the narrative begins with some technical aqueduct business...it led me to believe this was a book for blokes. Obviously, I was prooved wrong. You wait so long for the fabulous climax and when it finally comes, you are richly rewarded.
Pompeii is really not a book to be ignored. Miss it at your peril.
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19 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing and dull, 1 Oct 2003
By 
Simon Cross (RUSTINGTON, West Sussex. United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pompeii (Hardcover)
I was really looking forward to reading this novel, as the setting interests me and I thoroughly enjoyed Harris's Fatherland. However, this book is very disappointing and actually quite dull. Still the suspiciously large print makes it a quick read - was this an attempt by the publisher's to give the book a superficial worthiness?
The thriller elements are predictable, and there was nothing remotely surprising about what happened to any of the characters. Harris has given none of those characters much in the way of depth; the leading character of Marcus Attilius is boring, and I did not care what happened to him. He was far too good, without even a slight chink in his armour.
At times, "the sights, sounds and smells of the Ancient World, each detail conjured with jaw-dropping verisimilitude" mentioned in the review above, are just an excuse for some schoolboy vulgarity, not worthy of Harris's previous writing at all.
However, I concede that I am pretty much alone in my views on this novel. No harm in offering that alternative view though.
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Pompeii
Pompeii by Robert Harris (Mass Market Paperback - Oct 2004)
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