Search: Title Author Article. Rate this book. On the eve of Marcus Cicero's inauguration as consul of Rome, the grisly death of a boy sends ripples of fear through a city already wracked by civil unrest, crime, and debauchery of every kind. For Cicero, the ill forebodings of this hideous murder only increase his frustrations and the dangers he already faces as Rome's leader: elected by the people but despised by the heads of the two rival camps, the patricians and populists. Caught in a political shell game that leaves him forever putting out fires only to have them ignite elsewhere, Cicero plays both for the future of the republic and his very life.

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Called immediately to the scene, Cicero does his level best to prevent details of the outrage from circulating, but of far deeper concern to him is who among his enemies could have sanctioned such a despicable act, and to what end. To this end -- and about to take center stage in his own right -- is Julius Caesar, rumored but never proved to have been a part of the plot. Tiro wrote a biography of Cicero that was lost during the Middle Ages, making it fair game for an inspired retelling.

In the hands of Harris, Tiro is an amiable raconteur, a marvelous storyteller with an impeccable gift of recall and an exquisite ear for the memorable quote. He realized it was the best way to get himself out of that tight corner. Given the tapestry Harris so brilliantly weaves here -- and the five years he describes -- it seems a perfectly apt and rather ironic title to boot; why it was changed, the publisher has yet to say.

Interestingly, British reviewers had a grand time last year matching contemporary politicians with those they believed Harris, a former correspondent for the BBC and columnist for the Sunday Times, might be lampooning in his spot-on characterizations. With Caesar and Cicero, Pompey and Crassus, Lucullus and Hybridia to choose from, not to mention a pimply-faced Mark Antony hovering in the wings, the possibilities for comparisons with present-day public figures are numerous.

Because Harris is working within the parameters of recorded history, we know where this is all headed. It is a first-rate performance, one that bodes well for the denouement to come. Hot Property. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options.


Annus Periculosus

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Conspirata, by Robert Harris / ****

It is the sequel to Imperium and the middle volume of a trilogy about the life of Cicero —43 BC. For its release in the United States, and Italy, it was retitled Conspirata. The book continues in the format of the first novel, with the story told in the first-person from the point of view of Cicero's secretary Tiro. It follows on immediately from Imperium , starting with the beginning of Cicero's consulship and ending with his exile as a result of the enmity of Clodius.


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As he did with Imperium , Robert Harris again turns Roman history into a gripping thriller as Cicero faces a new power struggle in a world filled with treachery, violence, and vengeance. A young slave boy has been felled by a hammer, his throat slit and his organs removed, apparently as a human sacrifice. For Cicero, the ill omens of this hideous murder only increase his dangerous situation: elected leader by the people but despised by the heads of the two rival political camps. Caught in a shell game that leaves him forever putting out fires only to have them ignite elsewhere, Cicero plays for the future of the republic…and his life. Robert Harris is the author of Pompeii, Enigma , and Fatherland. His novels have sold more than ten million copies and been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Berkshire, England, with his wife and four children.


‘Conspirata’ by Robert Harris

Cicero must regularly foil death threats, his vestibule patrolled by a fearsome guard dog; his front door barricaded against invaders; and his wife, Terentia, alternately moping about the danger and questioning his response to it. One, a woman, winds up gutted like a fish. While they were sharp with words around the Roman Senate, they were even sharper with daggers. Will Cicero survive, entrails intact? What of the Republic he governs?

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