Some drawbacks in the choice of narrator,
This review is from: Imperium (Paperback)
Everything you need to know about the rise and rise of Cicero the politician is contained in the Prologue delivered by the narrator: Tiro, Cicero's secretary and slave. Unfortunately, it's an eyewitness account by someone not only subordinate to our hero but also in awe of the Republic's politicians, aristocrats and soldiers. From the prologue, we know how the story ends and that particular spoiler puts a dampener on the very chapters that ought to tease us with cliffhangers before a climax. Worse than that, there are hundreds of characters with long names holding a bewildering array of offices who flit in and out of view. It doesn't help that all the soldiers are big and ruthless, the aristocrats all haughty and corrupt or that the rest of the dramatis personae are all violent, debauched, criminal and/or insane. Quite often I didn't know my Catalina from my Catulus, or my Lucius Metullus from the other two blokes called Metullus, and could have done with a glossary or a character list.
A pity that the author's amazing story was hampered by his choice of viewpoint. And it was an amazing story, with a particular strength in making the Roman Republic so immediate and vibrant.