AJ Coutu


AJ Coutu
Providence, RI


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World Of Ares

Arts & Culture > Poetry & Prose > Imperium by Robert Harris

Imperium by Robert Harris

Readers are transported back in time to ancient Rome during the time of Julius Caeser with this novel presented as a piece written by Tiro, a slave owned by Marcus Cicero. Tiro, a real historical person, brings readers through his master's rise from being a simple outsider with little influence to his election as Consul. At the time, which is before the rise of the emperor, the consulship was the most desired and powerful office in the empire.

Cicero, who is and was a well-known orator, was often looked down upon because of his lowly birth. That did not sway him from trying to improve his influence and better himself. Using his brains and his intelligence, Cicero works his way up through Rome's political ranks serving in various office in the provinces and at home.

His real opportunity for power comes when he learns of a plot being arranged by Julius Caesar and his confidante, Marcus Crassus, to use approaching elections as an opportunity to take power for themselves.

I have always been a fan of ancient cultures in general, and Rome in particular. I think I first fell in love with it when I watched the BBC miniseries, I, Claudius on video when I was younger. It provided a sneak peak into all of the trials and tributations of the Claudians and the other early Roman emperors.

This book does a nice job of presenting a lot of that from the perspective of an outsider fighting to get in. Rome always held to the power of its vaulted families and houses. Cicero was not of that breed, but that didn't stop him from trying to overcome that and become powerful and influential in his own right. He proves to be quite successful.

Tiro, our narrator, proves to be quite an interesting individual himself, even if he really is only an observer. He is known for creating the first form of shorthand, which really revolutionized the ability for the creation of minutes during the hectic Senate meetings.

This is the first book in what clearly has at least one sequel. I am already looking forward to Conspirata, which will pick up just Cicero takes the consulship.

While I really loved the story, I do have to admit that I find Harris' writing style to be a bit on the dry side. Heck, he recently wrote Pompeii, which presented the story of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, and I thought that came across as a little bit boring. This has the same slow-moving narration. It is worth reading it, though. With that said, I would recommend folks try Robert Graves' books on the time period before these.

posted on Sept 26, 2011 11:58 AM ()

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