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Conclave Hardcover – 22 Sep 2016

4.0 out of 5 stars 344 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (22 Sept. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091959160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091959166
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (344 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Harris’ superlative skill at depicting power politics makes this an irresistibly gripping papal page-turner." (Sunday Times, BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

"Robert Harris is incapable of writing a substandard novel." (Alan Johnson Observer, BOOKS OF THE YEAR)

"A master of producing thrillers of ever-tightening suspense, full of insider analysis of political power and the treatment of momentous events . . . gripping . . . more than a crime novel, it is also a psychological and political thriller . . . Conclave is a triumphant addition to Harris’ acclaimed output" (David Grylls Sunday Times)

"I am about to use a word I have never knowingly used in any review of any book ever. During my 25-odd years of writing about books I have done my best to avoid cliches, slipshod summaries, oracular pronouncements and indeed anything else that might appear emblazoned on a book jacket. Nonetheless, there is only one possible word to describe Robert Harris’s new novel, and it is this: unputdownable" (Ian Sansom Guardian)

"Gripping . . . like an ecclesiastical version of House of Cards" (The Times)

"Well-researched, intelligently observed and highly credible . . . Fast-moving and suspenseful, it’s elegantly written entertainment from a first-rate storyteller." (Mail on Sunday)

"Grips like a vice and manages to convey all the drama of an election without resorting to melodrama" (Jake Kerridge Sunday Express)

"An electric read, like a shot of adrenalin to the heart . . . rollicking and literate . . . an insightful and witty thriller" (Tim Stanley Literary Review)

"Britain's leading thriller writer" (Daily Telegraph)

"A master of pace and entertainment" (Observer)

Book Description

THE POWER OF GOD.

THE AMBITION OF MEN.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Harris does not disappoint. This is a page-turner, but it is more than that. Whether he is Catholic or not, I do not know, but he manages to convey the ethos of the upper echelons of the Catholic church without cynicism or parody. I was caught up in the plot but came to like many of the central characters as well - which is what makes the tale ultimately heart-warming.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Harris’ prior existence as a political journalist always informs his writing, bringing specific skills to his novels: being concise, not overwriting, clearly giving information and opening out moral arguments in ways which are far from dry and academic; he is an excellent communicator. He is also a creative and imaginative writer, able to imagine into character and create living breathing individuals, with flesh on their bones, not merely ciphers standing for particular viewpoints. He understands the dramatic drive for narrative, and necessity for the unexpected, without sacrificing everything else for narrative drama.

This particular book, based as it is around the election of a new Pope, might seem irrelevant, peculiar, or dull, depending on the reader’s sense of what drama is, and what their view of religious organisations might be. After all, 118 elderly men, the second tier of seniority in the Catholic church, gathered, from all over the world, to elect one of their number as the Supreme Head of their worldwide organisation, where is the drama in that? Where (some might argue) is its importance or relevance?

For the however-long-it-takes for one of them to get the requisite two-thirds majority winning Pope vote, the cardinals have to remain sequestered from the world, without either communicating with it, or receiving communications from it.
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Format: Hardcover
Harris is on good form in this short thriller based on the election of a Pope to replace someone who looks very like our current Pontiff – in Harris's reality he is a principled man who tries hard to reform corruption within the Vatican and dies despairing of change. The twist is that he has left a hidden (metaphorical) bomb behind him which during the election process ticks louder and louder; we readers sense it (as do some of the characters) but do not understand it.

We get a cocktail of race, sex, money and politics – all culled from a legion of conspiracy theories - set in precisely-researched Vatican geography and procedure. There is almost too much detail at times. We even get female participants – the nuns join in. And we see all this through the eyes of a Cardinal who is a man both of prayer and doubt, so that the story really does have a spiritual dimension, something lacking in previous Vatican-based blockbusters. Anyone remember "The Shoes of the Fisherman"? Finally after Harris has wound the tension all the way, real bombs go off, and our metaphorical bomb finally explodes in a delicious joke, which I entirely failed to see coming, though of course the clues are there. Great stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a great Robert Harris fan, but this book is let down by a couple of major gripes. The first, as other reviewers have indicated, is credibility. There are two events, one during the course of the book, the other at the end, which stretch credibility too far.
The other, and a disappointing one for me, is the intrusion of simple errors which good research would have removed. This is surprising, given how scrupulous the research behind books such as "Imperium" and "Lustrum" is. Any good editor with a knowledge of Catholic practice should have pointed out, for example, that rosaries are never worn around the neck (by Catholics), that "pax vobis" does not appear in the Latin text of the Mass, that Lefebvre has never been considered heretical (schismatic perhaps, but that is not the same thing), that chasubles don't have sleeves etc.
Not major issues, but all easily avoided.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The admirable Robert Harris has produced another page-turner, this time a novel about the election of a new pope. He struck me as being very knowledgeable about the Vatican, the Curia, the detailed arrangements for a conclave, and the Catholic Church (though other readers have spotted a few small inaccuracies). 118 cardinals took part in this election, and Harris names 53 of them as well as a numbe of officials in the Curia. That’s rather a lot for the reader to take in when for some time he doesn’t know which of them take a major role in the story. However, we can guess before long, because the personalities of those who are going to be important are more vividly described in appearance and action than those who are not. We know only one of them through his thoughts also: Cardinal Lomeli, the Dean of the College of Cardinals who is responsible for the organization of the conclave, prayerful, conscientious, worried whether he worthy of the task, not least because he had recently gone through periods when he felt spiritually dry.

As expected, the cardinals fall into two major camps, the conservatives who want to undo the work of the previous liberal pope and the liberals who want to continue with the reforms. There are also regional issues: the African cardinals would like one of them to be elected, while the Latin Americans and the Italians are too divided doctrinally to form a block. All of them have of necessity to be politicians; some honourably so, concerned for the good of the Church; others are corrupt.

There are surprises. Shortly before the conclave opens Lomeli learns that one key cardinal had been dismissed from all his offices at the last audience the late Pope had given, and that another cardinal had recently been made in pectore – i.e.
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