BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Book summary and reviews of Dictator by Robert Harris

Dictator by Robert Harris

Dictator

Cicero Trilogy #3

by Robert Harris

  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  •  Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
  • Jan 2016
    416 pages
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Imperium ... Conspirata ... and now Dictator - the long-awaited final volume of Robert Harris's magnificent Ancient Rome Trilogy

At the age of forty-eight, Cicero - the greatest orator of his time - is in exile, separated from his wife and children, tormented by his sense of failure, his great power sacrificed on the altar of his principles. And yet, in the words of one of his most famous aphorisms, "While there is life, there is hope."

By promising to support Caesar - his political enemy - he is granted return to Rome. There, he fights his way back to prominence: first in the law courts, then in the Senate, and finally by the power of his pen, until at last, for one brief and glorious period, he is again the preeminent statesman in the city. Even so, no public figure, however brilliant and cunning, is completely safeguarded against the unscrupulous ambition and corruption of others. 

Riveting and tumultuous, Dictator encompasses some of the most epic events in ancient history - the collapse of the Roman Republic and the subsequent civil war, the murder of Pompey, the assassination of Julius Caesar. But the central problem it presents is a timeless one: how to keep political freedom unsullied by personal ambition, vested interests, and the erosive effects of ceaseless, senseless foreign wars. In Robert Harris's indelible portrait, Cicero attempts to answer this question with both his thoughts and his deeds, becoming a hero - brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful yet ultimately brave - both for his own time and for ours.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The book is charming as well as engrossing, largely due to the immensely likable person of Cicero, who is wise but not pedantic, moral but not sanctimonious, courageous but wary of the grandstanding of the martyr." - Kirkus

"With its complex historical context and searing scenes of violence, Dictator is not easy reading. Yet its gripping dramas and powerful themes - the fragility of democracy and the fallibility of human beings among them - richly illuminate the conflicts of its era and our own." - Publishers Weekly

"The cast is extensive, but the plotting is brisk, and Harris never loses sight of his themes, or his protagonist's relevance for today." - Booklist

"A remarkable literary achievement ... A trilogy that is likely to stand alongside the works of Robert Graves and Mary Renault as an enduring imaginative vision of the ancient world." - Stephanie Merritt, The Guardian

"There's a huge amount to enjoy in this Roman romp." - Sam Leith, Financial Times

"[Harris is] the king of the political thriller. His dense plots, in which he deploys a masterly ability to organize complex material, require readers to pay close attention to elaborate twists and intricacies; his cool, crisp, unadorned style elevates the genre to a status that bridges the gap between commercial and literary fiction." - Caroline Baum, The Sydney Morning Herald

"A tremendous creation ... Harris always tells a great story." - Natalie Haynes, Independent (London)

"With Dictator Robert Harris brings his Cicero trilogy to a triumphant, compelling and deeply moving conclusion. The three novels are surely the finest fictional treatment of Ancient Rome in the English language." - Allan Massie, The Scotsman

"Masterful ... Harris rises dramatically to the occasion ...[Dictator] makes a moving end to Harris's superb trilogy, which does full justice to one of Rome's most interesting, complex and humane statesmen, whose pragmatic political treatises proved so influential during the renaissance and enlightenment." - Peter Jones, Evening Standard

"There is never any shortage of fiction about Ancient Rome, but Harris, in this book and its prequels, makes nearly all his competitors seem slightly simple-minded and unsophisticated." - Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times

"A fitting end to a magnificent trilogy... Does not disappoint- Dictator is just as sinuous, clever and compelling as the earlier books... . Hugely moving." - Paul Connolly, The Metro

"Harris is not only a hugely successful writer of popular novels but a powerful writer about political practice." - Peter Stothard, The Spectator

This information about Dictator was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Robert Harris Author Biography

Robert Harris is the author of fourteen bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave, Munich, The Second Sleep and V2. His work has been translated into forty languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby.

Other books by Robert Harris at BookBrowse
  • The Ghost jacket
  • Pompeii jacket
  • Imperium jacket

10 more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Blue Ruin
    Blue Ruin
    by Hari Kunzru
    Like Red Pill and White Tears, the first two novels in Hari Kunzru's loosely connected Three-...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.