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Imperium - Robert Harris

 

I've enjoyed all of Robert Harris' books up until this one. Set in the world of Roman politics, this novel follows the rise of Cicero through the political ranks, as told by his secretary. I can remember Harris being widely interviewed when the hardback came out talking about the wide ranging research he had done and I was looking forward to being transported back into a fascinating period in history.

 

I confess that I've abandoned this book at page 70, mostly because I wasn't gripped by the story but also because I was finding all of the characters with their unwieldly names hard to manage. It's back on the shelf for the time being, but I need someone to convince me that I should give it another go, otherwise, it's off to greenmetropolis.

 

P.S. Not sure if this is the right place for this thread, but Pompei, his last book, is here.

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Morning all,

I've long been an enthusiast for Roman history, and for novels set in Rome. I must confess I have yet to read Imperium, but I have read the same author's Pompeii and I enjoyed it enormously. It's somewhere I'm hoping to visit in 2009 as part of an extended trip to Italy.

 

If you struggled with Imperium, but were intrigued by the Roman social world inhabited by Cicero, you might enjoy the Roma Sub Rosa novels of Steven Saylor ( http://www.stevensaylor.com/). The first of them, Roman Blood, is built around the first trial that Cicero defended. It takes a while to open up, but it's worth the effort, and Saylor certainly knows his Roman history.

 

As I said, I haven't read Imperium yet, but I wondering when I do if I will find myself thinking he's deriving more than he is admitting to from Saylor's novelistic approach to Roman history.

 

Jen, I've often put aside novels I've started, for various reasons. Sometimes I return to them and really enjoy them, other times not. On the subject of Roman names; it can be a bit bewildering until you get the hang of it. With Marcus Tullius Cicero, 'Cicero' is a sort of acquired nickname and means 'chickpea' apparently given to one of his ancestors who had a nose that resembled the legume. 'Tullius' is the family or clan name, and Marcus is the personal name, usually only used by family and close friends. This is worth a look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_names

 

As always Wikpedia should be treated with caution, but as a starting point for enquiry, I find it enormously useful just as long as one never regards it as definitive or as the last word.

 

Other novelists who set their stories in Rome include, of course, the wonderful Lindsey Davis and her investigative creation, Marcus Didius Falco. Set during the Emperorship of Vespasian they take place some 130 years later than Cicero's time, after the upheavals of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. They are also scrupously researched, often violent and frequently very funny. Her website is here: http://www.lindseydavis.co.uk/

 

Sorry to waffle on a bit. I hope it's been of some interest.

 

Best wishes and happy reading,

Sam

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Thanks for the recommendations, Sam Peeps, I'll have a look. I loved Pompeii too, one of the reasons that I was eagerly anticipating Imperium, but I just couldn't get in to it. I've visited Pompeii and it's everything I hoped it would be, I'd love to go back sometime. I hope you get to go, if you do, be sure to visit Herculaneum too.

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  • 3 months later...

Well I loved both Pompeii and Imperium. IIRC, the story does start off quite slowly but I was absolutely gripped by it in time. A slow-burner methinks :) I would rate Imperium higher than Pompeii simply because the political intrigue is fascinating :)

 

On the same note, I've been to Rome, Pompeii, Ercolna (Herculaneum) and Bath and never tire of Roman ingenuity. Anyone who has been to these places should appreciate either of these books. Jen, if you haven't returned to Imperium then give it a chance once more, it's worth it :)

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Has anyone read the (fictional) Emperor series by Conn Iggulden? They are really good books if you like Roman history and adventure. They start with Julius Caesar and Brutus as childhood friends, and follow them as they grow up into adulthood, with lots of action, excitement, battles etc. Also, Rubicon by Tom Holland is a must read for anyone interested in the facts of Roman history. I've read it twice, and it really makes sense of who was who and what happened. A captivating read.

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  • 6 months later...

After reading Pompeii I decided to give Imperium a go and I'm glad I did. I'm really interested in finding out more about the main character. It's strange to think how advanced areas of the world were in BC.

 

Annoyed at Ceciro defending Fonteius (?) after he had prosecuted Verres, couldn't he have found another way to prove he was loyal to Rome? Glad he didn't defend Catalina though! I want to find out how he did as Consul now if I can. :D

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Yep, I admit that I was hoping for a follow-up of sorts :) I recall reading the book and thinking that Harris really made ancient Rome come alive. He managed to recreate the hustle and bustle of the city very well (or at least the hustle and bustle that I imagine there would have been).

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  • 1 year later...
Has anyone read the (fictional) Emperor series by Conn Iggulden? They are really good books if you like Roman history and adventure. They start with Julius Caesar and Brutus as childhood friends, and follow them as they grow up into adulthood, with lots of action, excitement, battles etc. Also, Rubicon by Tom Holland is a must read for anyone interested in the facts of Roman history. I've read it twice, and it really makes sense of who was who and what happened. A captivating read.

 

 

Yes I read those books could not put them down they were fascinating. I liked the way the author has written in the back of the book and admits to changing a few aspects of history in the books to fit the storyline and tells you where he has done this. They are fabulous books that give an insight into the life and times, the cruelty and political intrigue.

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  • 2 years later...

So since this thread was last posted in the second of the Cicero trilogy 'Lustrum' has been published and I read that one too. Another fascinating tale and one I really, really enjoyed.

 

However, I'm getting worried about the third book in this trilogy. In late 2010, the book was scheduled for 2011, then when 2011 came and went, Wikipedia was updated to say the book was scheduled for publication in 2012. Now the Wikipedia page says it is to be published in 2013.

 

In the meantime Harris has published another book, so I'm hoping he will return to the Cicero trilogy shortly.

 

To satisfy my need for Roman novels I've since read the Emperor series as recommended by vald. That was a rip-roaring read for sure. Conn Iggulden did a great job onthose books.

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Other novelists who set their stories in Rome include, of course,

 

... me. :cool:

 

And my wife/coauthor and me have found ourselves facing the same comments with regard to NAMES. Folks, we can't help it - it's the bloody Roman's fault! ;)

 

With regard to "Imperium" (and "Lustrum"), I gave up reading when I realised that one character who was murdered in part I was alive and kicking again in part II, without the murder even being referenced. Well, every author commits his blunders, but this one is grotesque!

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