Act of Oblivion: Book summary and reviews of Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris

Act of Oblivion

A Novel

by Robert Harris

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris X
Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

From the bestselling author of Fatherland, The Ghostwriter, Munich, and Conclave comes this spellbinding historical novel that brilliantly imagines one of the greatest manhunts in history: the search for two Englishmen involved in the killing of King Charles I and the implacable foe on their trail - an epic journey into the wilds of seventeenth-century New England, and a chase like no other.

"From what is it they flee?"

He took a while to reply. By the time he spoke the men had gone inside. He said quietly, "They killed the King."


1660 England. General Edward Whalley and his son-in law Colonel William Goffe board a ship bound for the New World. They are on the run, wanted for the murder of King Charles I—a brazen execution that marked the culmination of the English Civil War, in which parliamentarians successfully battled royalists for control.

But now, ten years after Charles' beheading, the royalists have returned to power. Under the provisions of the Act of Oblivion, the fifty-nine men who signed the king's death warrant and participated in his execution have been found guilty in absentia of high treason. Some of the Roundheads, including Oliver Cromwell, are already dead. Others have been captured, hung, drawn, and quartered. A few are imprisoned for life. But two have escaped to America by boat.

In London, Richard Nayler, secretary of the regicide committee of the Privy Council, is charged with bringing the traitors to justice and he will stop at nothing to find them. A substantial bounty hangs over their heads for their capture—dead or alive...

Robert Harris's first historical novel set predominantly in America, Act of Oblivion is a novel with an urgent narrative, remarkable characters, and an epic true story to tell of religion, vengeance, and power—and the costs to those who wield it.

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

"[A] gripping historical thriller...The deeply researched story is the author's brilliant reimagining of real historical events, with sympathetic characters and a compelling plot. Thoroughly enjoyable with some cringeworthy descriptions. Readers will not pine for days of yore." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Harris again turns a historical event into a canny page-turner...[and] brings to life an obscure chapter in colonial American history. This further burnishes Harris's reputation as a talented author of historical suspense." - Publishers Weekly

"It will come as no surprise to readers familiar with Harris' work that this is a splendidly written historical novel. Harris really is a joy to read...Another top-flight effort from a master storyteller." - Booklist

"Act of Oblivion is a belter of a thriller. It will be compulsive reading for those who loved An Officer and a Spy, Harris's book about the Dreyfus affair. Like that novel, the research is immaculate. A chewy, morally murky slice of history is made into a thriller that twists and surprises. The characters are strong and we care about their predicament. The story stretches over continents and years, but the suspense feels as taut as if the three main characters were locked in a room with a gun." - The Times (UK)

"Robert Harris brings his signature storytelling power to an exciting manhunt through colonial America. Act of Oblivion pulls off historical fiction's greatest challenge, transporting readers into the heart of a formative era with momentum and suspense. A twisty labyrinth of espionage and intrigue." - Matthew Pearl, New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club and The Taking of Jemima Boone

This information about Act of Oblivion 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!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Russia
    The Story of Russia
    by Orlando Figes
    In The Story of Russia, British historian and writer Orlando Figes shares panoramic and ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

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.