By Robert Harris
Published: 4th September 2006 and 8th October 2009
Rating: 👑 👑 👑 👑 👑 👑 👑 👑
Synopsis: The first book in the trilogy, Imperium, deals with Cicero’s rise through his prosecution of Verres, his pursuit of consulship and the beginnings of his dealings with one of his greatest foes, Catilina. The second book, Lustrum, sees Cicero juggle his consulship and go head to head with Catilina, the consolidation of power shared by the trifecta of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus and the cutting loose of the ridiculous but highly dangerous Clodius.
💜 What I loved 💜
I’ve probably mentioned before that this is my favourite era of ancient history. It’s so relentlessly fascinating so I’m glad Harris was able to do it such justice. Luckily, Cicero is so accessible through the mountains of writings he left and his unmatched rhetoric and Harris paints a well-rounded character who is just and principled but still has human vices. The giants of history: Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus (among others) become human and step out the pages of history books, warts and all. And of course, the traditions (and failings) of politics seem unsettling familiar as they are governed by ego, self-interest and pandering to the lowest common denominator.
💀 Bad Bits 💀
Given the time period, there are no main characters who are female. We see hints of strong female characters with Terentia (Cicero’s wife) and Aurelia (Caesar’s mother) but they are never fully explored. It would have been great to have seen more of their reactions to the Clodius scandal at the Bona Dea (Clodius infiltrates a women’s only ritual – it’s pretty funny!)
🌟 Cherished Characters 🌟
It’s hard to choose as I feel I know all these ‘characters’ so well. Cicero’s legendary words and oratorical skills, Caesar’s audacity and intelligence, Pompey’s opportunism and Crassus’… money? I’ve never liked Crassus…
🐙 Magic Moments 🐙
The entirety of the Catiline conspiracy. Cicero’s finest hour!
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