When Tiro, the confidential secretary (and slave) of a Roman senator,
opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he
sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually propel his master
into one of the most suspenseful courtroom dramas in history. The
stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman
governor, Verres. The senator is Marcus Cicero -- an ambitious young
lawyer and spellbinding orator, who at the age of twenty-seven is
determined to attain imperium -- supreme power in the state.
Of all the great figures of the Roman world, none was more fascinating
or charismatic than Cicero. And Tiro -- the inventor of shorthand and
author of numerous books, including a celebrated biography of his
master (which was lost in the Dark Ages) -- was always by his side.
Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, Imperium is the
re-creation of his vanished masterpiece, recounting in vivid detail the
story of Cicero's quest for glory, competing with some of the most
powerful and intimidating figures of his -- or any other -- age:
Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and the many other powerful Romans who changed
Robert Harris, the world's master of innovative historical fiction,
lures us into a violent, treacherous world of Roman politics at once
exotically different from and yet startlingly similar to our own -- a
world of Senate intrigue and electoral corruption, special prosecutors
and political adventurism -- to describe how one clever, compassionate,
devious, vulnerable man fought to reach the top.
The first half of the book is taken up with Cicero's prosecution of the former governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres, a truly nasty piece of work whose gross injustices against the people of Sicily still make the blood boil two-thousand years after the fact; the second half is taken up with Cicero's political battles to get himself elected. Both are grippingly brought to life with wonderful human touches such as the great military leader, but oratorical klutz, Pompey stumbling through his first Senate speech with a a "bluffer's guide to procedure written out for him by the famous scholar Varro". (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Washington Post - Dennis Drabelle
Toward the end comes a walk-on by Publius Clodius Pulcher, the most beautiful man in Rome, who figures prominently in another splendid novel of antiquity, Thornton Wilder's The Ides of March. I can think of no better endorsement of Imperium than to mention those two books in the same breath.
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.
[An] entertaining and enlightening novel... Harris's description of Rome's labyrinthine, and sometimes deadly, political scene is fascinating and instructive. The action is relentless...readers can only hope a sequel is in the works. Until then, this serves as a superb first act.
Booklist - Margaret Flanagan
A brilliant fictional biography of one of antiquity's most complex and triumphant characters.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kim Historical fiction at its finest This book won't be for everyone, but for those who relish historical fiction in all its intricate detail will love this book. It deals with a fascinating period of Roman history and politics. I found it very difficult to put down (but then, I... Read More
49-year-old Robert Harris, the son of a printer, was brought up in
Nottingham, England. He studied history at Cambridge where he was
president of the Cambridge Union and editor of the student newspaper, Varsity. He has been a television correspondent with the BBC and a
newspaper columnist for the London Sunday Times and The Daily
His novels have sold more than ten million copies and have been translated into
thirty languages. He lives in Berkshire, England, with his wife and four
He got started as a writer of books when he won a contract to write a biography
of John le Carré; but le Carré said the
book could not be published until his death, so Harris
started roughing out a novel exploring what would have happened if the Nazis had
won the war - which became Fatherland.
He sent a few chapters to his American agent, and didn't hear from him for two
weeks, then a call came through to tell him that there was to be an auction with
12 publishers involved. Harris says, "The...
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...