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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  26,402 Ratings  ·  1,788 Reviews
All along the Mediterranean coast, the Roman empire's richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas, enjoying the last days of summer. The world's largest navy lies peacefully at anchor in Misenum. The tourists are spending their money in the seaside resorts of Baiae, Herculaneum, and Pompeii.

But the carefree lifestyle and gorgeous weather belie an impending cata

ebook, 368 pages
Published December 16th 2003 by Random House (first published November 21st 2003)
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Lance Greenfield
This is the story of a latter day Super Mario, an Italian plumber who overcomes very difficult challenges to fix the water supply to Napoli and surrounding areas before the local volcano erupts to ruin everything for everybody.

OK, I admit that I am grossly trivialising a tremendous story, which is really about Marcus Attilius Primus, the aquarius, or chief water engineer, who is sent to the Bay of Naples to manage the water supply to all of the towns in the area. The main artery of the supply i
Geology meets Volcanology meets All Round Mr Nice Guy.
Having read Imperium by Robert Harris few short months ago I found that I quite enjoyed his uncomplicated writing style. I in no way mean unsophisticated or simplistic, for he is an author who can comfortably shoulder the mantle of an old fashioned storyteller.
Many authors try to be story tellers, but they over write or have not the skill and under write, or get caught up in too many tangents, thinking that everything they do has to be with
I have been a bit fascinated with the idea of Pompeii since I was a girl and the National Geographic ran photos of the people frozen in mid-flight trying to escape the horrors of the eruption of Vesuvius. Robert Harris has visited Pompeii through the story of Attilius, the engineer in charge of the aqueduct that served the area. Before the eruption, before the horror, there is a problem with the flow of the water. Attilius seeks to repair the breach in the aqueduct and this leads him to be in Po ...more
Neil Pierson
It should be a Two-For-One: A suspense novel to take to the beach; and some insight into life in the Roman Empire and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. (And maybe a small tutorial in primitive plumbing.) Unfortunately, it turns into an 0-For-One.

The plot is serviceable. Marcus Attilius Primus is an engineer newly in charge of the section of aqueduct that services Pompeii. He investigates the mysterious failure of the water supply and along the way, discovers that his predecessor was corrupt. He fall
Mar 11, 2017 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was just okay for me. I liked the historical side of this. I have always found this story kind of 'sadly fascinating'. I just didn't find 'that' in this book. This wasn't particularly character driven. There was a problem with the water plaguing the area and it focused mainly on that without giving depth to the characters. There was a lot time and detail that went into this problem, but I needed that same attention to detail regarding the people. The historical part felt well done; the ...more
Araz Goran
خيبت توقعاتي هذه الرواية.. كنت أتوقع أن تكون أجمل بكثير ، مملة ومكثفة جداً بالكاد أنهيتها..
One knows the end…then you start to read the beginning…. It’s rather challenging to craft a gripping novel based on a catastrophic historical and geological event – the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D., – but amazingly Robert Harris does just that. Attilius is the aquarius – the water engineer, as his father and grandfather had been before him, for the region surrounding the Bay of Naples, including the thriving city of Pompeii. A straight-up, earnest young man, his moral compass is steadfast ...more
I recently read classicist Mary Beard's fascinating non-fiction book on Pompeii. This novel by Robert Harris is in many ways a nice complement to that, especially since it is narrated by a Roman engineer responsible for the aqueduct that supplied water to the coastal towns on the Bay of Naples, Pompeii among them. We think of the Romans as conquerors, of building a civilization based upon conquest. But Roman engineering was as much, if not more, of a driving force, and the Romans' ability to har ...more
After a day in Pompeii -- my mother claims I walked through every single house: not true, some are inaccessible -- I heard people on the platform of the Circumvesuviana local train talking about this book. I was being fussy about everything else I was reading, so I grabbed this on the Kindle store and kicked back with it (once we eventually got back to Rome, anyway; I read The Map of Time on the Eurostar).

It's a quick read, and reasonably accurate to the interpretations of what happened in Pompe
Aug 26, 2008 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think you have pressure at work? Consider Marcus Attilius Primus. He just received an important promotion from Rome. The young engineer is now the Aquarius, in charge of the immense aqueduct serving the entire bay of Naples. His predecessor has mysteriously disappeared. His workers are surly. The water supply is interrupted. And then he gets on the wrong side of one of the richest men around, a cruel former slave, the behind-the-scenes political boss of Pompeii. Of course, he does have a very be ...more
Sam Quixote
The waters have stopped flowing from the aquedect - who you gonna call? Dambusters! The water engineer heads out amid widespread corruption in Pompeii, thwarts a murder plot, finds out what happened to his predecessor, falls in love, and investigates the ominous rumbling from the nearby Vesuvius.

Sounds good no? Harris is good at building up the air of menace in the days preceding the eruption. Every action can be looked at as minor compared to the devastation coming and he really does a great j
Lisa Vegan
3 stars

I have wanted to read this book for a decade

I’ve loved science, and particularly geology, from a very early age, and chose a science class in 5th grade that focused on volcanoes, so my interest is long standing.

I think a non-fiction book about this eruption, if it contained all the known information and conjectures, might have been an even better choice for me.

I got used the fictional story and it did provide a fairly good backdrop for the setting and happenings in that time and place.
Jul 17, 2015 Cherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In a little over seven hours, one thousand, nine hundred and thirty-six years ago Mt. Vesuvius will have finished the eruption that created the tourist attractions that we know today as Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Having experienced the eruption of Mt. St. Hellen in 1980, and know first hand what the ash fall was like, as a resident in Portland, Oregon, the time sequence and statistics of the volcanic events were fascinating!

The story of the Aquarius, Attilius and the Roman water syste
Dec 19, 2015 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Not 5 because there were one or two frankly cheesy bits!

Robert Harris brings the eruption of Vesuvius to life in this account which starts 3 days beforehand when the signs were there for anyone with sufficient knowledge to recognise. Sadly, few were in that position but thanks to Pliny's eye witness account, the knowledge was made available to future generations. This is a fascinating account of the build up to the eruption, with each chapter headed by a quote from a scientific journa
Jan 01, 2008 Rosianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rosianna by: Mr Lapish
Absolutely fantastic, and entirely unputdownable. At first you're unsure what kind of route Harris is going to take on Vesuvius' eruption as it opens with talk of aqueducts and engineers, but in the space of a few hundred pages, he recreates the bay of Naples vividly and realistically, so you really do feel get an idea of the timescale and the emotions, all built in to this great read.
I was curious how Robert Harris would write a novel about the day Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried the city of Pompeii. Could he make it interesting? How would he go about it?

I'm a sucker for apocalyptic movies. I discovered within the first few pages that Harris used a couple of tried a true methods that are used in those movies. First, we all know what's going to happen, so he starts with a countdown, beginning two days before the eruption. Next, each chapter is prefaced with an interesting fac
Gina *loves sunshine*
I always look forward to revisiting anything to do with Italy - It is a fascinating place!!!! Pompeii - it's history, and what still remains there today >>>>is amazing!! This book was not as amazing....but I'll still give it 2.75 -3 stars. For a few days I was entertained by the ins and outs of the Italian Aqueduct.

Who would really enjoy this book? Historical fiction fans? probably. It does have a thriller aspect to it. It was somewhat engaging. BUT, I have been to Pompeii, sooooo w
Jim Fonseca
Sep 22, 2013 Jim Fonseca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Attilius's occupation is an aquarius in the Roman Empire, a job description that nowadays would be "director of waterworks operations and maintenance for the southern district of Italy." As the earth beings to swell and shake in ominous warning in advance of the tragedy that is to come, the main aqueduct cracks and fails and Attilius is sent out to repair it. So this is a historical novel and we learn of life in the Roman Empire around AD 79 at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius. Here are mast ...more
Asghar Abbas
Nov 21, 2015 Asghar Abbas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I fell in love with how he fell in love with her. How he went back for her, despite everything was ending, despite all the endings.

فهد الفهد

كيف تكتب عن كارثة؟ هذا هو السؤال الذي سيجابه أي كاتب روائي يحاول نزع الصفة الإخبارية عن كارثة ما، وإبراز الوجه الإنساني منها، مشكلة هذا النوع من الكتابة هو أن الكوارث ضخمة، معقدة في أسبابها وأحداثها وآثارها، ومتضمنة في داخلها الكثير من البشر، فلذا يلجأ الكتاب إلى الحيلة إياها، أي التركيز على وجوه من وجوه الكارثة، وجعله الصورة الكبيرة، أو الرمز للكارثة، وتعريف القارئ على عدد محدود من الشخصيات التي ستتعرض أو ستتأثر بهذه الكارثة، وعادة يتعرف بهم القارئ قبل حدوث الكارثة حتى يمكن له أن يبنى معه
I'm not that much into historical novels, there are only some exceptions. For example I hugely enjoyed Rutherfurds "London". I also like to read about real historical events sometimes, that's why I picked up Pompeii. Very fascinating how much power nature has. Just imagine a fountain of rock and ashes that is shot into the sky and several miles high!!!!

The (for the most part) fictional story is interesting, imaginable und enthralling to some extend. It's also informative. And of course I had to
A tremendous book, one of my reads of the year (a difficult thing, considering how many good books I've encountered recently) and one of the finest historicals I've ever read. Harris turns out to be an eminently readable author who has a way of making dry facts and figures interesting, as the text is interspersed with engaging descriptions that do nothing to slow the breakneck narrative down.

The reason that POMPEII is such a good read is that it works without the volcanic eruption - take out Ves
Jan 30, 2015 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harris has given us a wonderful version of what it would have been like to go through the eruption of Vesuvius. His main character is an engineer, a water engineer. The engineer is an unassuming character dedicated to his work. We experience the eruption through the eyes of this engineer and because of this point of view, the story takes on more meaning and immediacy.

It is this point of view that really makes the story for me. It's obvious that Harris has done his research. As I read the novel I
Ever since I did an essay on Pompeii last year for uni and enjoyed a YA novel called Curses and Smoke, I've been wanting to read more novels about Pompeii. I thought this would be a great one and maybe it is, but I just don't care for it. If anything, it was sending me to sleep. Oh well! I only paid a few dollars for my copy. Maybe I'll read on another time...
Mar 27, 2017 Annelies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
zo een goed boek ... zeker omdat we net Pompeii bezocht hebben. Ik kon me alles zo inbeelden, hoe het eruit zag
Nov 11, 2013 Ben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Volcano stories are never really about volcanoes, just like shark stories are never about sharks, and zombie stories are not about the shambling hordes, but the few that cower from them. Sadly, this volcano story IS about a volcano--or rather it is about the volcano-related research that the author did in order to write it. It's full of sentences like, "They could feel the warmth from the hypocaust, a clever Roman heating system that worked like this..." in which you can feel how Harris is dying ...more
Dec 10, 2008 Reinhold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Natürlich geht es bei Pompeji letztlich um den wohl bekanntesten Vulkanausbruch der Menschheitsgeschichte, bei dem der Vesuv im Jahr 79 n. Chr. ebendiese Stadt vollkommen unter Asche und Lava begrub. Dennoch geht Harris einen sehr interessanten Weg und lässt eine Handlung entstehen, in der zunächst der Ausbruch des Vulkans nur in Vorzeichen angedeutet wird. Die meiste Energie geht stattdessen in die Erzählung über einen Aquarius (den Bauer und Pfleger von Aquädukten), der sich darum kümmern soll ...more
hope mohammed
بومبي المدينة المنسية او المدفونة تحت بركان فيزوف  لولا الاكتشاف الذي منحها خلودها على يد قائد نمساوي 1709 عند هركيولانيم تحت رواسب تبلغ ستين قدما ، والتي تسببت ببطء اعمال الكشف حتى عام 1749 وبالطبع كلفت نفقات باهظة ..

في الرواية يجتمع شمل الراوي وشخوصه الخيالية مع احداث النكبة لتدخلنا صلب حياة بومبي وترفع الخمار على بعض حياة الناس و شخوصهم فهناك امبليانوس العبد الذي حرر بعد الزلزال الذي اصابها عام 36 م والذي اثري فجأة وساهم بشكل كبير ببناء المدينة وكان همه المال ودائم الترديد مرحبا بالكسب  ، وال
[Name Redacted]
My girlfriend's drunken "aunt" insisted I read this book, and apparently she has good taste. It's an interesting mix of pulp, disaster, apocalyptic and historical fiction. The writing is clear, the pacing brisk and the characters are immediately identifiable as separate individuals despite their unwieldy name-chains. The excerpts from modern scientific discourses on vulcanology which open each chapter, coupled with the quotations from classical authors in the body of the text, help ground the na ...more
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ROBERT HARRIS is the author of nine best-selling novels: Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost Writer, Conspirata, The Fear Index, and An Officer and a Spy. Several of his books have been adapted to film, most recently The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. He lives in the village of Kintbury, England, with his ...more
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