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Group Themed Reads: Discussions > June 2018 - Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome

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message 1: by Peggy, Moderator (new)

Peggy (pebbles84) | 15599 comments One of the group reads for June is Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris. Please discuss the book in this thread.

Margo will be leading the discussion.

In order to receive a badge you must:
1. have completed the book before or during June 2018.
2. discussed it in this thread. Discussion must be more than "I read the book and I liked it". Discussion requires something more substantial and analytical of what you read, for example, thoughts, opinions, impact it had on you, what was your favourite part, was it what you expected it to be like etc. You may also like to review the book and post a link to the review in this thread. Please refer to our group spoiler policy for further information.
3. Report that you have read AND discussed the book in the reporting thread (include a brief summary of what you thought of the book).

General Rules:
1. Please mark your spoilers with the spoiler tags along with mentioning what stage of the book you are at so other's don't get a nasty shock. Chapter numbers/titles are generally best as they are the same across all formats and editions. See our spoiler policy
2. The book may be combined with the Year Long Challenge, Topplers, and Monthly Challenges.

Happy reading!


message 2: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Apologies for being a little late to check in - I am a but distracted by the June Topple!

If anyone starts reading before the 9th I would love to read your thoughts. I will keep an eye out for comments.

I believe that the book is not written in the form of chapters but instead consists of eighteen numbered rolls. I'm not sure if have any affect, if any, that will on how it reads.

I would love to read any general comments on the style and feel of the book.

Do you think it breathes life into ancient Rome and fleshes out the charters we already know? What about the ones we haven't met before?

How does it compare to other books you have read by Robert Harris? Or are you new to this author?

I will read everything EXCEPT plot spoilers - those I will save til I catch up :-)


message 3: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments I was hoping my book would be at the library today when I came in, but it is not. Maybe tomorrow.


message 4: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Hope so Cherie. I'm really keen to read this. Haven't read much of his work, but I enjoyed Enigma and The Ghost. I found The Fear Index a bit disappointing. I think he is a good researcher which should pay of on the historical stuff.


message 5: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments I got my books mixed up, Margo. I have Imperium as an ebook downloaded already. The book I was looking for in print was for the June Bug challenge. That was the one not in yesterday.


message 6: by Silver (new)

Silver | 495 comments One of the reasons I wanted to read this book is because of how much I enjoyed Pompeii.

Thus far I have some mixed feelings about it. I find many aspects of it intersting and I am enjoying it but I find it also to be a bit slow. Though I had a similar experience with Pompeii where it took me a while to really get into it so I am hoping the more I read the more compelling it will get. I do think that Harris is a clever talented writer.


message 7: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments That's good Cherie - all set to go!

Silver, I have to agree that Harris is a clever writer. I can see why Cicero would appeal to him as a subject. I am hoping it will give some insight into his personal life as well as his career. I only know of him from Julius Caesar.

I hope the story picks up for you soon.


message 8: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments Silver wrote: "One of the reasons I wanted to read this book is because of how much I enjoyed Pompeii.

Thus far I have some mixed feelings about it. I find many aspects of it intersting and I am enjoy..."


I read the first two or three pages. It is definitely different than Pompei. I feel like I cannot read any more because I need to read my toppler books and I cannot use it for anything.


message 9: by Steve (new)

Steve Perkins | 56 comments Looking forward to starting this book tonight. I have never read anything by Robert Harris, so I'm not sure what to expect. Several years back I read I, Claudius by Robert Graves and thoroughly enjoyed it and I likely have in the back of my mind that this will be of the same ilk. That's probably a ridiculously unfair assumption, so I'm trying not to anticipate too much so that when I do finally crack it open I won't be disappointed because it wasn't what I had psyched myself up to expect.


message 10: by Annerlee (new)

Annerlee | 2713 comments I'm planning to join you at the beginning of next week, after the toppler has finished. Our team's up against Cherie ; )

I read Pompeii last year too and really enjoyed it, so I'm hoping for good things from this book too. I'm pretty sure I have a copy on e-book, but the library has 2 copies available as well.


message 11: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Steve wrote: "Looking forward to starting this book tonight. I have never read anything by Robert Harris, so I'm not sure what to expect. Several years back I read I, Claudius by Robert Graves and t..."

Steve I listened to the BBC adaptation of I, Claudius recently and I loved it! It was a full cast thing - I think it must have been made for radio. I wonder if that is what made me want to read Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome?

Cherie, you didn't like I, Claudius as I recall. Hope this one works better for you 😉


message 12: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Annerlee wrote: "I'm planning to join you at the beginning of next week, after the toppler has finished. Our team's up against Cherie ; )

I read Pompeii last year too and really enjoyed it, so I'm hopin..."


Hope your copy arrives in nice time to start once our team wins the toppler Annerlee 😛

I have Pompeii on my shelf and was set to make that my next Harris read. There is something very compelling about Pompeii. So much of that civilisation was captured for history by such terrible disaster. Has anyone visited the ruins? It must be quiet an experience.


message 13: by Steve (new)

Steve Perkins | 56 comments Margo wrote: "Cherie, you didn't like I, Claudius as I recall. Hope this one works better for you 😉"

I can definitely see how I, Claudius would evoke a wide range of reactions and ratings. ;-)

I finished the "first roll" of Imperium last night and I think I am going to enjoy it a lot. The reading is smooth and clear and seems to move along and keep you engaged. Having the point of view coming from Cicero's life-long scribe/secretary already gives me the feeling that I'm getting the inside scoop and that it will surely get juicy. Probably not as juicy as the scandal-paloza that was I, Claudius, but intriguing enough, I'll wager.


message 14: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments So, no orgies huh? LOL

I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it. Are you listening to the audio?


message 15: by Silver (new)

Silver | 495 comments Steve wrote: "Margo wrote: "Cherie, you didn't like I, Claudius as I recall. Hope this one works better for you 😉"

I can definitely see how I, Claudius would evoke a wide range of reactions and ratings. ;-)

I ..."


I find it intersting learning something about Trio who is based on a real person. Many of the characters in this book I am familiar with from other books I read but I have not heard of Trio before.


message 16: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Trio is new to me too Silver ( not that I know about ancient Rome!). I too like it when "real" characters are brought into historical fiction. I suppose there must be some "imaginary" characters in this one though!

Feel free to leave some spoilers guys (as long as you use the spoiler tag of course 😀).


message 17: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments I am about half way through chapter 2. First impressions are very good. Tiro is a great story teller and adds a touch of humour to the tale - I was afraid I would find it dry and serious.

Chapter 1 (view spoiler)

Chapter 2, first half (view spoiler)


message 18: by Cherie (last edited Jun 13, 2018 07:31PM) (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments I restarted again today, but didn't get far. Had to look up amanuensis. I didn't know what it meant.
Roll I (view spoiler)


message 19: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments Wow! Who knew oratory was such hard work!


message 20: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments I really like light hearted approach to the story that Harris has taken with Cicero and Tiro. "We were made for each other." He is so easy to read.


message 21: by Annerlee (new)

Annerlee | 2713 comments I need to get to the other side of town to pick this up from the library. I have it reserved. Lunchtime, hopefully. Luckily I'm not too far behind you all.


message 22: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Cherie wrote: "I restarted again today, but didn't get far. Had to look up amanuensis. I didn't know what it meant.
Ch 1 [spoilers removed]"


Wow Cherie, you really squeeze every last drop of learning out of a book! Impressed as always ☺ I must get back to the book. Haven't been in the mood for proper reading this week - life getting in the way lol


message 23: by Lilisa (new)

Lilisa | 2547 comments I just finished Roll I - what a clever idea to name them Rolls. I wonder if Harris is going to have to keep to a similar number of words for each roll the same? Or else they had varying lengths of rolls back then? I love his writing - there was soooo much packed into 9-1/2 pages.


message 24: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments I agree, Lilisa. I did not catch the "Roll" until I got to the 2nd one last night.

I checked this book out from my library early, but with the toppler, I did not have a chance to really read it and it is going to expire tomorrow. I do not want the same thing to happen with this group read as my last, so I just purchased the ebook from Barnes $ Noble. I accidently left my tablet at home today though.


message 25: by Cherie (last edited Jun 13, 2018 12:47PM) (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments Margo wrote: "Wow Cherie, you really squeeze every last drop of learning out of a book!..."

It is so easy to do today, Margo, with todays technology at our finger tips, My iPod provides a dictionary and a calculator and access to You Tube for videos and music. I look up everything I can. I have always kept a dead tree dictionary on my book shelf at work, but I finally gave it up last year (it was 25 years old).

My mother worked for one Radiologist group or another for all of her working career. She typed up the Radiologist's reports (when they looked at X-rays) that they dictated into a dicta-phone tape recorder. I used to tell people that she was a typist. Wouldn't it have been impressive if I could have told people that she was an amanuensis (one employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript)?


message 26: by Silver (new)

Silver | 495 comments While the book itself is not comedic I do think that there are some one liners that are laugh out loud funny.

This is one of those books that I struggle with. The writing is strong and clever and I do find the subject interesting but because it does move a bit slow for me ( while a lot might happen there is not a lot of action) I have a hard time reading large chunks in a sitting I have to read is in small increments at a time.

Roll IV

(view spoiler)


message 27: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Cherie wrote: "Margo wrote: "Wow Cherie, you really squeeze every last drop of learning out of a book!..."

It is so easy to do today, Margo, with todays technology at our finger tips, My iPod provides a dictiona..."


haha Cherie. That sounds very important! I know it is easy to look up words these days but as I mainly listen to audio I have got very lazy about doing so !

Silver, I agree about the comedic style. There were some pretty punchy one liners in chapter 2. Trio delivers them very well :-)


message 28: by Margo (last edited Jun 14, 2018 01:24PM) (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Margo wrote: "Cherie wrote: "Margo wrote: "Wow Cherie, you really squeeze every last drop of learning out of a book!..."

It is so easy to do today, Margo, with todays technology at our finger tips, My iPod prov..."


I have just finished chapter 4 and and I have to say I didn't like the the second two chapters as well as the first two. As well - early days :-[

Chapter 3 and 4 (view spoiler)


message 29: by Almeta (last edited Jun 17, 2018 06:06AM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 10553 comments I read this during the Toppler, so didn't stop to make any comments at that time. Here are a few of my thoughts afterwards:


Within the first few paragraph, I snickered that the author (view spoiler)


Why the dog, (view spoiler)

 photo sack_zpsum6fqjwn.jpg
p.s A monkey (view spoiler)

Cicero may have married (view spoiler)

Liked the attempt at authenticity by presenting 18 "Rolls" (of paper) rather than using "chapter breaks".

I think Harris does a great job of adding dialog and character "thoughts" to an historical account of Cicero's (and Tiro's) life. (view spoiler)


message 30: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 18231 comments Could you add a few more spoiler tags to your post please Almeta. I know some is based on real life events but not everyone is aware of it and could still act as a spoiler for the book. Thank you.


message 31: by Almeta (last edited Jun 17, 2018 06:07AM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 10553 comments Sarah wrote: "Could you add a few more spoiler tags to your post please Almeta. I know some is based on real life events but not everyone is aware of it and could still act as a spoiler for the book. Thank you."

Sure. Sorry Margo!


message 32: by Steve (new)

Steve Perkins | 56 comments Cherie wrote: "I used to tell people that she was a typist. Wouldn't it have been impressive if I could have told people that she was an amanuensis (one employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript)?"

Did she know that? If she did, she could have charged 50% more. It's all in the marketing!
:)


message 33: by Steve (last edited Jun 17, 2018 07:21AM) (new)

Steve Perkins | 56 comments If you have ever worked with graphic design or print layouts, you may have seen this famous "greeking" text call Lorem Ipsum. It is used to provide temporary sample text in a page layout in design before the real text is available. It is just nonsense Latin words (or so it seems) that look enough like Western text to allow you to assess the aesthetics of the page layout, without being distracted by real words.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus molestie tristique ornare. Nulla mattis porttitor mi in mattis. In consequat vestibulum placerat. Proin convallis...

I found out yesterday, totally coincidentally through some other reading I'm doing, that it does indeed come from Latin and while it is a little bit corrupted in its form and grammar, it is pretty much pulled from a real historical text, De finibus bonorum et malorum

The author? Cicero!


message 34: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 10553 comments Steve wrote: "If you have ever worked with graphic design or print layouts, you may have seen this famous "greeking" text call Lorem Ipsum. It is used to provide temporary sample text in a page layout in design ..."

Cool trivia!☺


message 35: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments Yes, Steve, cool trivia!

If my mother was aware of the word, I doubt that she could have taken advantage of it. Medical transcription is a difficult profession to break into with no formal training. I remember helping her memorize the medical terms when my sisters and I visited on weekends. My parents divorced when I was 10 and my mother had never worked before. My dad got custody of all five of us kids and my mother went to live with my Grandma. She applied for an office job with a Doctor friend of my Grandma's because she had beautiful handwriting and he need a secretary. He didn't even have a typewriter in his office. All of the files were done by hand. He taught her medical terms and helped her learn dictation and shorthand for his office. She taught herself to type and convinced the doctor to buy an electric typewriter. I will ask her about the word when I talk to her next weekend.

I just started Roll VI.


message 36: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Sorry for my absence. I have had a rotten stomach bug since saturday. I have been flat out and though I've listened to a few books not able for the ebook. I will try to read posts later .


message 37: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 299 comments I just finished reading this book and enjoyed it immensely. It is a powerful author that can turn such an old story in a suspenseful book about power and crime.
What really striked me was the great character descriptions of such op the most powerful men of Cicero’s time. We are not at all sure about the events in the first century BC, but the novel is very much in accordance with what we know.
I am not sure how much of an effort the book asks if you’re not a bit familiar with the story, but it is well worth an effort!

For those curious about the ‘sack’ penalty, here is an interesting article.
https://www.realmofhistory.com/2017/0...


message 38: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 18231 comments What in particular did you enjoy about the book Claire?


message 39: by Claire (last edited Jun 18, 2018 07:38AM) (new)

Claire  | 299 comments Sarah wrote: "What in particular did you enjoy about the book Claire?"

I enjoyed the novel mostley cause it retold history in a way that felt very modern. There is a lot of emphasis on the characters in this book and I felt the Romans in it were described as real people, instead of mere historical figures. The novel might not be exactely right ( even when there are texts, a lot is guessing), it is a plausible way history happened.
Overall it could have been the story of any number of ambitious men anywhere ( and we see a lot of them nowadays) and the way they grip for power.
On top of that, the book is well written and I read it in one long sitting ( with a few hours in between) cause I got totally immersed in it.


message 40: by Silver (new)

Silver | 495 comments Almeta wrote: "I read this during the Toppler, so didn't stop to make any comments at that time. Here are a few of my thoughts afterwards:


Within the first few paragraph, I snickered that the author [spoilers r..."


Regarding the dog

(view spoiler)


message 41: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments I decicded to give in and start listening to the audio so I got 3 chspters finished today. That brings me to the start of chapter 10. The reason I was less keen to do the audio on this one was what I found it easier to keep all those Roman names straight when they're on a page in front of me!

I have to agree with Claire that, so far, it has a very modern feel. Cisero could be any politician making his way up the greasy pole.

I think this is why I didn't get into the book initially. I could find anyone to root for!

Chapter 10 (view spoiler)


message 42: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20715 comments I can finally read the spoilers. I am on Roll VII.

Thanks for the sack article, Claire. I had the picture in Alemeta's post in my head when I read it in the text. :o). Until I got to the current chapter I am at, I thought Cicero was having pretty poor luck with his coming up against all of those corrupt Senators and aristocrats. The crosses (view spoiler)
I have so many places bookmarked!

Sicily (view spoiler)

Margo - how is the narrator doing with pronouncing all of those Latin names? I think I am reading so slowly because I have to read over each one and figure out how to say it! I love the story though. ;o)


message 43: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Cherie, the narrator is good but i just can't take in those roman names without seeing them written down! I think I will go back to the audio as soon as I can see straight lol

@Silver - it would take a really sick mind to come up with that method of execution but still I think it would have been an easier death than crusifiction.

Where are you all up to guys?


message 44: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 299 comments I am rather curious about the next novel. Cicero has allways been a very ambigious figure. He was a great writer, rethor and lawyer, but the opinions on his character usually are less praising.


message 45: by Margo (last edited Jun 19, 2018 02:06AM) (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Claire wrote: "I am rather curious about the next novel. Cicero has allways been a very ambigious figure. He was a great writer, rethor and lawyer, but the opinions on his character usually are less praising."

I own the trilogy. They were recommended to me and when I saw them in a sale I snapped them up.

I knew very little about Cicero coming into this book and from the way Harris portrays him, I am not too impressed. (view spoiler)


message 46: by Lilisa (new)

Lilisa | 2547 comments I'm at Roll IX - there is so much going on and tons of characters. I'm having a hard time time keeping track. It's not necessarily the names - I'm sure if they were Mike, Tom, Harry, David, James, etc. I'd have the same problem! Interesting... (view spoiler)


message 47: by Margo (last edited Jun 19, 2018 12:37PM) (new)

Margo | 10292 comments Lilisa, I am glad I am not the only one struggling with both size of cast and with names!

(view spoiler)

Roll X (view spoiler)


message 48: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 299 comments What helps is watching the HBO series Rome:-) Then you get a face with lots of the names. Sadly I allways see boring busts hearing names like Cicero and Caesar.


message 49: by Margo (new)

Margo | 10292 comments That's what I'm liking about this book. It really brings Cicero to life. I am currently picturing him like Bobby Kennedy, hands behind his head sprawled in a chair with his feet up on the desk, - well maybe not in a toga lol - but you get the picture ;-) Presenting a very relaxed face to the world no matter what inner tension.

Would you recommend the series Rome Claire? I've been pondering it but I find the brutality even harder to take when it is visual.


message 50: by Lori (new)

Lori (glitzyrebel) | 439 comments Hi!!! I am a little late joining but I have had this on audio and never gotten around to listening to it. Hoping to be back in the group on a more regular basis, too!!!


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