In the first of his now-completed Cicero trilogy, Robert Harris uses his considerable narrative talents to take us into the world of ancient Rome. It is a world of Republican Democracy in the depths of intrigue: graft and political corruption, foul-tempered candidates, electoral meddling, special prosecutors, courtroom drama, backroom deals with political rivals and stunning reversals and betrayals (any of this history sound familiar?). The young statesman Cicero begins to rise the political ladder against the scheming backdrop of Crassus, Pompey, and a young Julius Caesar, and a cast of thousands.
I'm tacking this review onto all the books of this trilogy:
I'm stealing a section of a lengthy review I wrote for Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome 7 book series. I loved her books, and said of them:
" If you're interested in popularized Roman history, this is a treasure. The writing is good, if not quite up to the standard of Robert Graves' two volume set "I, Claudius," and "Claudius the God," or Robert Harris' Cicero trilogy. If you have read and enjoyed any of these, however, you MUST read them all - in chronological order, of course. It is particularly interesting that McCullough seems more or less in the Caesar-worshipping camp. He was a prodigy; he was too good at too many things, which in the end had a lot to do with his downfall. But what a magnificent creature he was!
However, Cicero was Caesar's mortal enemy, and Robert Harris' books tell much of the same story as we find in McCullough - from a diametrically opposed point of view."
And it's true, Harris is a more subtle and nuanced narrator. Perhaps it has partly to do with the narrator's voice, which is that of Tiro, Cicero's secretary. It lends immediacy and personal intensity, and can be an excellent literary device. Remember Watson and Holmes, Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolf.
I wish Harris had stretched it to four books.
The subject matter was interesting, but I do not like this writer's style.
Good account of Cicero, his life, and personality. But very slow reading. I am more used to Harris's books having more drama, more action, and more suspense. Still interesting to see Cicero's thought process as told by his closest associate his secretary and slave Tiro.
An interesting account of Cicero's rise to political greatness as recorded by his scribe. Good insights into many of the other well-known figures of the time: Caesar, Pompey, etc. As for the politics: well, some things never change!
This has been my first book from this author and I have been very favorably impressed. I’d like to say that I should have read a book by him sooner but I have so many I want to read that I’d just be fooling myself if I thought I would have.
The story is told or actually written by Cicero’s loyal slave Tiro at the end of his life. This part of the tale is of Cicero’s climb to the top of Roman politics.
I found the portrayal of Cicero and Roman life very real. The depiction of Cicero as both a man and the legend he would become gelled very well in the story. It was an absorbing book, well written and interesting.
While no scholar of the Republic era, I enjoyed this portrayal of the lawyer Cicero and the Roman Republic, and am looking forward to the following volumes. The reading of Simon Jones was a definite plus.
Cicero was a fence jumper!!! Julius Caesar was a hero!! Any writer who says otherwise is a complete idiota!!!
Aside from the wonderful writing and impecable scholarship ,..
I repeatedly got the feeling "thats just the way it could have happened" , when Harris' fictional fill-ins puts us in a front row seat for the motives and machinations ...'behind-the-scenes' , that come down to us from the historical records.
One the most amazing reads you will ever have. A must for anyone with an interest in ancient roman politics!
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