In the years before I started blogging, I kept notes about the books I read. Every once in a while I post mini-reviews of books I read in my pre-blogging days. Enjoy.
Imperium is the first in a trilogy set in ancient Rome. It is written from the viewpoint of Marcus Tullius Tiro, who was Marcus Cicero's personal secretary. Both men are quite accomplished: Tiro invented shorthand and authored several books, including a biography of his master. Cicero, of course, was the famous Roman orator, lawyer, and statesman.
The novel is meant to be a re-creation of Tiro's biography (which was lost in the Middle Ages), and the story takes us from Cicero's humble beginnings to his life as a daring lawyer and finally to his rise as a major political figure. Harris introduces us to ancient Rome, including family life, social climbing, and the Senate floor. Of course many famous Romans play a part in the book, and we meet the likes of Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and Cato.
Imperium presents a wonderful portrait of Rome before Pompey and Ceasar became rulers. Cicero's path to power is a fascinating story of politics and corruption, plotting and secrecy. It was especially interesting to read about Marc Anthony as a young man and to see the beginning of the rift between Ceasar and Pompey, which occurred years before they became co-consuls.
I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Simon & Schuster Audio) read by Simon Jones. My reading notes have just one word for the narration: Terrific.
I highly recommend this novel to historical fiction fans. The book is also a terrific supplement to the HBO series Rome, which begins at a time somewhat after the story told in Imperium. The second book in the trilogy, Lustrum, is supposed to be published in 2009, and I am impatiently waiting for its release.
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2007