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Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome

(Cicero #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  26,045 ratings  ·  1,778 reviews
When Tiro, the confidential secretary (and slave) of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually propel his master into one of the most suspenseful courtroom dramas in history. The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is M ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 305 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Simon & Schuster
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Margaret T. Yes, especially if you keep a list of the characters in Imperium (there are a LOT of them) and something about them.

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3.0 stars. This book did exactly what I expected it to do. It was a both a solid, enjoyable read and at the same time an unremarkable story that will be forgotten as quickly as my self respect inhibitions on Tequila. To put it in the shell's nut, this was good entertainment but likely won't earn a hallowed place among your list of favorites.

I did appreciate that this book lent itself extremely well to audio because the story is VERY easy to follow and the narrative is not jammed with dense
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it

Historical fiction writers are cursed. They are not Robert Graves.

Nonetheless, this is an entertaining attempt with a provoking figure as the main focus to visit Ancient Republican Rome. The book deals with the fascinating life of the political animal and great thinker, Marcus Tullius Cicero.

This novel is the first in a Trilogy. The second has a different title for the English Lustrum and American editions Conspirata. The third one has not been published yet. I have so far read only this first
Dec 31, 2015 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jan-Maat by: Issicratea
I was listening to the radio one morning and the presenter was interviewing Robert Harris on the subject of his new book the concluding part of a Trilogy about the man known to eternity as Chickpea - or Cicero (view spoiler). Harris was of the opinion that we need "more politicians like Cicero rather than Caesar" - a view you will certainly agree with if you are Gaulish, and that he tho ...more
I know this sounds weird, but I love Cicero. I love his eloquent and passionate writing (, his love of books and his humanism. There was no way I would not want to read some historical fiction about him, especially when I saw that Harris wrote his trilogy on Cicero from the point of view of Tiro. Cicero’s personal secretary wasn’t just a scribe: he invented the system we now think of as shorthand, and kept such a meticulous record of his master’s life tha ...more
Andrew Smith
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-politics
At school, history was always my favourite subject. It didn’t so much feel that I was being taught something, rather that I was being told stories – often interesting stories, too. And as a legacy of those days I’ve retained an interest in events that formed the world in which we live. I read a reasonable amount of non-fiction to fill the gaping holes in my knowledge but once in a while I like to pick up a book by someone like Robert Harris who is able to mix history with a little imagination. T ...more
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Harris has done something really smart here: if he'd published a three-volume biography of Cicero, no one would have read it. (Well, I wouldn't have.) So instead it's a trilogy of historical novels, which sounds way more fun. But it comes down to nearly the same thing, right? This is a very detailed, carefully researched work about Cicero.

It's told first-person by Tiro, Cicero's scribe, who's a real guy who wrote a real biography of Cicero (now lost). It's a clever gambit by Harris; it allows hi
Blaine DeSantis
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Robert Harris is one of my favorite authors, and ancient Rome is one of my top genres. Earlier this year I read "I, Claudius" and loved it, and decided to read Book #1 on Harris's trilogy on the life of Cicero. I love this book. By the way, did you know that Cicero means chick peas! Lots of good stuff in here about the early career of Cicero up to his election of Counsel of Rome. The book is divided into 2 parts with the first part paying attention to his early trials and ending with his electio ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Chrissie by: Tom
This is the first book in a series of three about Cicero (106 B.C. – 43 B.C.)—Roman statesman and famed orator. The three are books of historical fiction. Here in the first we follow his career from senator to praetor to consul, ending in the year 63 B.C. His close friend, private secretary, slave and scribe, Marcus Tullius Tiro ( circa 94 B.C. – 4 B.C.), relates the story of Cicero’s life. Tiro is often referred to in Cicero’s letters and is known as the father of shorthand. A trusted friend an ...more
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical fiction enthusiasts
Well, I just finished listening to "Imperium" by Robert Harris. Once more, Harris delves into the inner workings of the Roman Empire only this time, he retreats back to the Republican era and creates a fictional biography of Marcus Tullius Cicero as seen through the eyes of his slave secreatary, Tiro.

Since I was originally seduced into my passion for learning about the Roman Empire by Colleen McCullough and her "Masters of Rome" series of novels, I naturally began this investigation of the life
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For me this was a 5 star read. Robert Harris has Tiro, Cicero's scribe/clerk, writing the linear in time progressions of his younger "coming up" to power years. It holds those eyes and hearts of Roman sensibilities during change in the republic, both in its aristocrats, and in its plebs - incredibly well. And how Cicero connotes the entire, foremost the law- courts, religious and holiday festivals also influence and surround attention and direction.

There are quotable paragraphs every few pages.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was reading a biography of Julius Caesar after having watched some episodes of “Rome,” a rather bawdy but interesting version of the rise of Octavian in which Cicero plays a prominent, if cheesey role, so I knowing Harris through some other books, I grabbed this one.

Told through the eyes and memory of his servant, Tiro, supposedly the inventor of shorthand, the mechanism for perfect recording of the actual speeches, Cicero’s place in the history of oratory (Demosthenes taught that content was
A pretty decent novel about Roman politician and arguably greatest orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, that I understand is the start of a trilogy.

The novel is narrated in first person by Cicero's freedman and secretary Marcus Tullius Tiro (upon freedom, slaves used to take up the praenomen and nomen of their masters), and covers Cicero's early life as a struggling young advocate trying to make a name for himself as he studiously takes classes with legendary orators from Greece both to improve his sp
I have never really been all that interested in Roman political history. After all, I am barely interested in modern politics. This is why I have owned this book for a few years and have put off reading it. But, having now taken that step and read it, I should not have put it off so long.

The book is written in an endearing style and the word I often used while reading it was 'jolly'. It seemed the one word I could think of to encapsulate its feel. I do not mean comedic, or silly, or slapstick, I
Executive Summary: I really enjoyed the first 50% and the last 15% or so, but the third in between got kind of slow. 3.5 stars rounded rounded down for the lull.

Audio book: Simon Jones does an excellent job with the narration, and seems like a great fit.

Full Review
I used to love history. I used to watch the history channel for hours. I'm not sure why I never really got into historical fiction, or even nonfiction for that matter.

I don't remember much about Rome however. I looked up Cicero and
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction about the famous Roman lawyer/politician/orator, Cicero. It starts with his first big case. a Roman Governor pillages Sicily, working in league with pirates, and abducting and killing ship passengers.

Cicero gets on the case, nicely suited for his ambitions, and gets to the bottom of things.

From there, it's mostly political concerns, as Julius Caesar begins his rise to power.

A very good book, where Rome comes alive.
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
[The following review was written three years ago, when I read the book the first time. I expected to change my opinion of the book, and at least take one star off my rating. However, it is a good book, and was not damaged by a second reading. Therefore, I'll let the review and the rating stand.]

Before I start I must say that I enjoy Robert Harris books. I picked up Fatherland in one of those "buy three books get the fourth free" promotions. I had no intention of getting it but you know how it i
1.5 stars for the narration, 4 for the story. But I'm rounding it down because of the awful audio version.

For a more in-depth analysis of the book, please read Marquise's wonderfully written review.

Robert Harris' books are pretty much hit and miss for me. But this series is truly good.

Imperium tells the story of Marcus Tullius Cicero, advocate, politician and orator; his rise to power as well as the slow decline of the Roman Republic. It's captivating and well written, giving the reader a fairly
Nov 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Harris has written a novel that combines a good political potboiler with solid historical fiction, based on real events in the life of the famous Roman senator and consul Cicero.

Narrated by Cicero's slave and scribe, Tiro, who invented an early elaborate version of shorthand so he could take down speeches and debates as they occurred, the novel joins Cicero as a young man, and then takes us through his landmark prosecution of Verres, a corrupt governor of Sicily (and you wonde
Jess The Bookworm
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This novel follows the life of Cicero, the famous Roman Consul who was well-known for being one of the greatest orators of all time. It covers the life of Cicero up until he's elected as Consul of Rome, and tells of his rise to political power through the ranks, including his successes as a lawyer, including his trial against Verres, the corrupt Roman governor.

I think that I found this book most interesting as I am a lawyer myself, and of course in first year University I had to study the found
I have read three books by Robert Harris recently; this one, Pompeii and Enigma. Notwithstanding anything I might have found previously to say about his works, one thing I have to give him is that the man does his research quiet well. He does not rely on heavy words like some authors to veil an otherwise paper thin plot (that is, if there is one to start with), but he trusts his immaculate research to speak for his work with a clean narration. As a result, the reader is exposed to a very well re ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
4 Stars - Great book

The one or two spoilers are not hidden because they are mainly historical facts that anyone could Google. You've been warned.

I have a passion for/deep interest in ancient history and ancient cultures, Ancient Rome is my favorite of those ancient cultures. I love that a culture and history so old is as well documented as it is (comparatively speaking) with its literature, poetry, buildings, and monuments. This fascination started when I took Latin in high school. Yes, I took L
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this! That's despite the fact that it was about Cicero, who the historical record clearly shows was a dick. One of the best parts of Harris's writing was how well he was able to sketch character portraits of the dozens of characters included, particularly Cicero and the other senators. Cicero is a true politician: he's in this for the consulship, and viewed through that lens (and supported by his writings), he becomes a real, fleshed-out person who I couldn't quite love but did ...more
Roman Clodia
Uneven and meandering, lacking a strong historical sense

This is an ok rather than a brilliant read. I found it unevenly written and paced, and while the plot starts quite tight it ends up meandering all over as if it's not quite sure what it wants to be about.

It starts off being about Cicero and the Verres scandal (if you're interested in the actual speeches that Cicero made against Verres, they can be found in Political Speeches), but then turns into Cicero's chase for the consulship.

There isn'
Brad Lyerla
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
IMPERIUM recounts the story of Marcus Cicero's ascent from modest young lawyer to the leading advocate of the late Roman Republic and one of the greatest orators of all time. IMPERIUM is the first of a three volume set. It concludes with Cicero overcoming treachery to win an ugly election and become leader of the Roman senate.

Cicero's story during this period is fascinating. Circumstances compel him, against his better judgment, to make an alliance with Pompey the Great which alienates him from
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Must read for anyone who loves political intrigue, Roman history, and the wisdom of the ancient world. You'll come away with a new admiration for Cicero, the self-made "new man" who rose from obscurity to the consulship without money, family lineage, or military fame. Full review you can find on my blog: ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe you don't know, but I love the Ancient times, be them Greek, Roman or other, and I always look for books dealing with/set in this period! So, when a friend lent me Imperium, I nearly read it right away!

Moreover, just like some other Latin students, I had to translate extracts from Cicero's letters and speeches. So, I can’t say I was especially fond of him before reading this book. That’s the first exploit of Imperium: it made me love Cicero. Really love him; like I supported him from begi
I love reading about ancient Rome. It's a period I have become very interested in and learned about primarily though fiction (films as well as books). I have also enjoyed the Robert Harris books I've read in the past, which, although certainly intelligent and well-written, have been fast-paced, dramatic and quick reads. Thus while the Roman setting of Imperium intrigued me, I expected it to be light and easy to read, and probably heavily embellished. In actual fact, it's really quite a serious n ...more
Dean Lombardo
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call it a prequel to Robert Harris' "Pompeii," if you like, "Imperium" follows the brilliant career of Roman senator, advocate and philosopher, Marcus Cicero as he outdazzles his political rivals in a decades-long display of words and wit, without having to resort to the threats and violence that his enemies do. The tale is narrated by Tiro, Cicero's scribe, who appparently really did exist, though his scrolls were lost. "Imperium" tries to recapture the content of those lost scrolls through Har ...more
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Roman History Fans
Part One of an intended trilogy, this is a fictional biography of Marcus Tullius Cicero, as told by his personal secretary and slave Tiro. Tiro did actually write a biography of Cicero but it was lost during the Middle Ages.

It begins when Cicero is twenty-seven and is determined to attain Imperium, the highest office in the Roman Republic, that of Consul. It ends some twenty years later with a surprising election. In between there is suspense and danger as Cicero works his political magic to ac
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of History
A reviewer called this novel "Labour in Togas" because of the many parallels one can draw between Tony Blair's ascent and Cicero's career. Both men stood against the "aristocracy" and represented the common people; both men had to change the laws of their governments because of "terrorists"; and both men eventually found themselves shaking hands with their enemies in order to maintain their power. Imperium is a historical novel that builds its thrills much like a John Grisham courtroom thriller. ...more
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When does the next one in this series come out? 17 131 Nov 30, 2019 01:49PM  
Around the Year i...: Imperium, by Robert Harris 4 26 Jun 21, 2019 07:00AM  
New Up and Coming Authors? For example, see the book the topic is 'about' 1 15 May 29, 2014 10:08PM  
Who wants to enter politics? 2 25 Oct 31, 2013 09:51AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine editions 2 16 Jun 20, 2012 02:15PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Cicero (3 books)
  • Conspirata (Cicero, #2)
  • Dictator (Cicero, #3)

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