I read perhaps 1 or 2 books a year before Audible. Now I listen to 1 or 2 books a month. I'm mostly listen to sci-fi, fantasy, and classics. I'm a software developer and tabletop game designer.
I'm a big Roman history buff so this novel really appeal to me. Overall I enjoyed it. I learned more about people I already knew a lot about, so that was a rewarding. But it was a bit slow and dry in some points.
I loved this book for the wonderful characterization of life in ancient Rome, all told from the point of view of a particularly gifted and "privileged" slave. I never thought the politics of ancient Rome could be so suspenseful, but I found the book riveting and highly satisfying. The sinister depiction of Julius Caesar was also fascinating and somewhat unexpected. The narration is outstanding.
An excellent story of a 'reluctant' lawyer-politician in ancient Rome, similar to John Adams from American History.
The main character seems to be continually on the verge of defeat only to pull off a masterful recovery.
We are given foreshadowing hints that these victories are leading to a dark, and possibly destructive, path.
This was a good listen. It tells the story of Cicero, arguably the greatest orator of all time, as recorded from the perspective of his secretary/slave Tiro. Tiro invented shorthand writing, and although he wrote a book about Cicero's life, that original manuscript was lost. Robert Harris attempts to recreate that (with creative license) in this book.
The narrator Simon Jones did a fabulous job with the narration. I felt like I was listening to one of the great historical/Biblical epic films of the 1960s - Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, Spartacus, and the like. He varied the voices and never stumbled over the various names.
The draw of this book is the historical element and the political intrigue. This is not an action story, as you should probably know after regarding its subject, Cicero. The man was a statesman and politician, not a warrior like Pompey or Caesar (who have major roles of course).
In all, it was a refreshing read. It ends on a good point, a natural stopping point, never really drags or becomes boring, and is for the most part quite clean in terms of content.
Is he a dot, or is he a speck? When he's underwater does he get wet? Or does the water get him instead? Nobody knows, Particle man.
Robert Harris brings Rome to life. I am familiar with the more well known names are associated with the time of the end of the Roman republic and the birth of the empire. Others were just names I occasionally heard about. They are all portrayed vividly here, and I think the success of the book is due largely to Harris selection for the story's narrator, Marcus Tullius Tiro, slave and personal secretary to Cicero.
Harris is clear that this is a novel. It is a not a historical narration. It is the story of a man as told by an admirer. Many years after Cicero's death, Tiro relates the story of his master as he witnessed it. Tiro is an entirely sympathetic character; skilled in his craft, indispensible confidant to his master, as close to a member of Cicero's family as his station will allow, dreaming of the day of his own promised freedom; it is through his eyes that we become eavesdroppers on the events of this era with which his master becomes embroiled.
The story delves into politics and legal matters of the time and drips with intrigue, but it is not quite a mystery or a thriller. After all, we are dealing here with well known historical figures in events that are well documented. The outcomes are not unknown. The question is not so much what will happen, but how it will unfold for us in this story. The story Tiro relates is that of a socially awkward but brilliant Cicero who learns the skills of rhetoric, establishes himself as a lawyer, marries his way into the senate, and doggedly embarks on a journey to make a name for himself. Cicero comes across as a man as unabashed in his quest for power and prestige (specifically what the Romans called imperium) as he is sincere in championing the highest of Roman ideals. It is inevitable that he is faced with choosing between the two at times or else finding creative ways to marry them. But if that were not the case, we would not have nearly as compelling a story.
As for the novel's historical offerings, it is replete with details of senate procedures, legal maneuvers, and campaigns and elections that political junkies will like. I have no particular interest in Roman legal matters, but I found these to be juicy ornaments that made the story more colorful. The main historical value I found in the novel was the way it presented the conflict among the factions of aristocracy and between the aristocratic and the plebian interests. Knowing what is to follow, I can appreciate how what characters in the story do to manipulate these to their own interest plays into the events that ultimately lead to the fall of the republic.
Riveting, suspenseful, enlightening
Mr. Jones gives a brilliant, nuanced reading, imbuing each character with their own distinct and easily recognizable voices. One of the finest voice-over artists I've ever heard.
Author Robert Harris and reader Simon Jones are a terrific pairing.
Semi-retired ENT doctor who listens to books while making a 55 minute commute to work two days a week.
About the dullest book I ever listened to. I was unable to finish it.
This is, I think, the only books in many years as an audible subscriber that I was unable to listen to. I tried, but it didn't click with me