Imperium Hardcover – 4 Sep 2006
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Imperium masterfully dramatises issues not only
pertinent to a vanished world but to our own. -- Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
Genres ancient and modern have rarely been so skilfully
synthesised Gripping and accomplished. -- Tom Holland, Guardian
Harris [is] a truly gifted, razor-sharp writer... Enormously
-- Daily Telegraph
Harriss best so far, rapid and compelling in narrative
thoroughly researched but also, which is more important, thoroughly
imagined Irresistible -- Allan Massie, Sunday Telegraph
Ancient Rome is the setting for the stunning new novel from Robert Harris, the number one bestselling author of Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel and Pompeii. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
"Against Verres", the speech that is the subject of this novel, is Cicero's prosecution of Verres, ex-Governor of Sicily. Verres, even given Cicero's hatchet job in 70 BC, seems to have been a pretty loathsome creature who plundered and intimidated his subjects openly and without remorse or guilt. The remainder of the novel is concerned with Cicero's climb up the greasy pole to real power and all the resulting intrigues and plotting. Fascinating stuff, and as Mr Harris said, if what he propounds did not actually happen, then something like it probably did. After all, 2 + 2 generally makes 5 - ish.
Harris has obviously done his research here and the bones of the historical fact are fleshed out by a very entertianing novel. He is an extremly funny writer in an "ars celat artem" way and the various discussion and debates in this novel are extremely amusing: Cicero's comments about marriage will make you laugh out loud, and many other passages will cause you to smile.
Harris' characterisation is very good indeed, and Cicero comes over as a prissy, self-important, principled yet proud man who in real life I have always found insufferable. In this, he appears rather like a cross between the late Bob Monkhouse and Rumpole of the Bailey and becomes likeable.Read more ›
The novel Imperium takes a break from this theme. We follow Marcus Cicero, Roman lawyer, orator and statesman, as he follows his dream of becoming one of Rome's two Consuls.
Harris excels in creating three-dimensional characters (Dan Brown, sit up and take note, with your bland Hollywood cut-outs). Imperium is populated by alternatively brilliant, flawed, amusing, venal and/or monstrously cruel Romans. I followed their individual rises and falls with glee. Harris plays particularly well to Cicero's historical strength - that of his public oratory. The scenes set in the senate and court houses are worth the entry fee alone.
Having discarded the crutches of the plot devices used in his prevously mentioned books, Harris does not quite manage to recapture their cannot-put-downability. However, this means Imperium is merely very good, rather than a must-read.
On a side note, it's interesting to compare the two different, but very nearly contemporary, Romes of Conn Iggulden's Emperor series (lots of wars and disciplined Roman legions) and Robert Harris' Imperium (politicking, scheming and intrigue).
Cicero came to prominence in one of the most iconic periods of Rome; he was there for Pompeii and the rise/fall of Julius Caesar. In his lifetime the structure of the Roman Empire would change. The great historic events are enough to whet my appetite, but Harris research skills and great writing add so much more. Harris imbues Cicero with many elements of our own politicians; he is willing to bend his values to pursue power. This does not make him a bad person, just someone who is believable. After `Imperium' Harris went on to write `The Ghost', I felt that his Roman epic had more to say about a certain former British Prime Minister than his modern set thriller ever did.
With a great story fill of intrigue, `Imperium' is only made better by Harris' quality writing. The book is improved further by the fact a lot of what Harris wrote actually happened. Rome has been an inspiration to writers for centuries and if they continue to produce as good a book as here, this process will continue for many centuries more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The entire trilogy was excellent. Harris really brings these historical characters to life.Published 11 days ago by Priscilla Donovan
This book is a fine evocation of the period; and as the city is Rome we can still experience the locus today. Politics never change; so the Roman variety has contemporary echoes. Read morePublished 12 days ago by David W. Bisset
Engaging, instructive if you know little about the Roman Empire and its workings.Published 20 days ago by M. Conway
Excellent - structure and pace well up to Harris standards.Published 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
I bought this on the basis of good reviews in the newspapers. It's a turgid read, unrelenting in the struggles of its "hero". Read morePublished 27 days ago by Abusam
A marvellous book by a hugely skilled story teller. The only problem I had was that I had to put it down from time to time!Published 29 days ago by stewart
Excellent. Transported me to Ancient Rome. Great story about an interesting character.Published 29 days ago by William McCloy