Imperium A novel of ancient Rome

Robert Harris, 1957-

Book - 2006

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FICTION/Harris, Robert
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New York : Simon & Schuster c2006.
Item Description
Book one of the ancient Rome series.
Physical Description
305 p. : map
Main Author
Robert Harris, 1957- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Harris, author of the best-selling Pompeii (2003), returns to ancient Rome in this historical tour de force. Tackling as his subject the brilliant orator and senator Marcus Cicero, Harris adopts the voice of Tiro, Cicero's faithful manservant and confidential secretary. Based on his real-life counterpart, Tiro, often credited as the inventor of shorthand and the author of a biography of Cicero tragically lost during the Middle Ages, narrates the story of his master's rise from relative obscurity to imperium, attainment of supreme power in the state. Thrusting himself upon the tumultuous Roman political scene at age 27, Cicero, an ambitious provincial lawyer, matches wits and wills with political and military heavyweights Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. The author paints a brilliant portrait of Roman senatorial intrigue and corruption, proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Harris spins a crackling good yarn, made all the more powerful by the fact that it is thoroughly grounded in history. A brilliant fictional biography of one of antiquity's most complex and triumphant characters. ((Reviewed September 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Harris reimagines a lost biography of Cicero actually written by Cicero's secretary, Tiro. With a ten-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

There is strong historical evidence that Tiro, slave and secretary to Marcus Cicero, one of the greatest of the Roman senators, wrote a biography of his master that is supposed to have been lost during the Middle Ages. Using existing records of Cicero's speeches and writings, Harris (Pompeii ) has re-created Tiro's biographical work in this novel of Cicero, who to this day is known as a consummate politician, skilled litigator, and gifted orator. Factual and true to Cicero's original writings though this work may be, a certain dry recitation of dates and events renders it less a novel than a semifictional piece of nonfiction. Nonetheless, Harris's work provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of the rich, famous, corrupt, and powerful of Rome during the age of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and, of course, Cicero himself. Recommended for public and university libraries where there is an interest in ancient civilizations. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/06.] Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK [Page 137]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Bestselling British author Harris (Pompeii ; Enigma ) returns to ancient Rome for this entertaining and enlightening novel of Marcus Cicero's rise to power. Narrated by a household slave named Tiro, who actually served as Cicero's "confidential secretary" for 36 years, this fictional biography follows the statesman and orator from his early career as an outsider—a "new man" from the provinces—to his election to the consulship, Rome's highest office, in 64 B.C. Loathed by the aristocrats, Cicero lived by his wits in a tireless quest for imperium—the ultimate power of life and death—and achieves "his life's ambition" after uncovering a plot by Marcus Crassus and Julius Caesar to rig the elections and seize control of the government. Harris's description of Rome's labyrinthine, and sometimes deadly, political scene is fascinating and instructive. The action is relentless, and readers will be disappointed when Harris leaves Cicero at the moment of his greatest triumph. Given Cicero's stormy consulship, his continuing opposition to Julius Caesar and his own assassination, readers can only hope a sequel is in the works. Until then, this serves as a superb first act. 350,000 announced first priting; 10-city author tour. (Sept.) [Page 35]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Adult/High School The tumultuous history of Rome from 79 to 64 B.C. comes alive in this fictional biography of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the politician and superb orator who rose to the empire's highest office after starting as an outsider from the provinces. His first legal case drew him into a long battle with powerful Gaius Verres, the dangerously corrupt governor of Sicily. Cicero displayed his wit and talent for oration and strategy to triumph over Verres and other opponents in high-profile cases. Harris has written a fast-paced tale, the first part of a trilogy. He examines the full spectrum of Roman society, including its dark side of corruption, class divisions, betrayal, and cruelty. Cicero, who sought imperium, or ultimate power of the state, is portrayed as a sympathetic figure whose allegiance was to the idea of Republic. The author paints a vivid picture of everyday life, and the courtroom dramas are, at times, riveting. Readers will recognize other famous Romans who pop up in the story, including Julius Caesar and Pompey. They may also recognize the timelessness of the pursuit of power. Susanne Bardelson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA [Page 172]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A tale inspired by the writings of Tiro, Cicero's confidential secretary, traces the life of the ancient Roman orator from his beginnings as a young lawyer through his competitions with Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus in the political arena.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A tale inspired by the writings of Tiro, Marcus Cicero's confidential secretary, traces the life of the famous ancient Roman orator and philosopher from his beginnings as a radical young lawyer through his competitions with such figures as Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus in the political arena. 350,000 first printing.