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Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome | [Robert Harris]

Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 Marcus Cicero, an ambitious young lawyer and spellbinding orator, who at the age of 27 is determined to attain imperium, supreme power in the state.

Of all the great figures of the Roman world, none was more fascinating or charismatic than Cicero. And Tiro, the inventor of shorthand and author of numerous books, including a celebrated biography of his master (which was lost in the Dark Ages), was always by his side.

Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, Imperium is the re-creation of his vanished masterpiece, recounting in vivid detail the story of Cicero's quest for glory, as he competed with some of the most powerful and intimidating figures of his or any other age: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and the many other powerful Romans who changed history.

Robert Harris, the master of innovative historical fiction, lures us into a violent, treacherous world of Roman politics at once exotically different from and yet startlingly similar to our own.

©2006 Robert Harris; (P)2006 Simon and Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Entertaining and enlightening." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Joshua mcleansville, NC, United States 04-19-12
    Joshua mcleansville, NC, United States 04-19-12 Member Since 2011

    www.newimperium.org

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    "Like Watching a Classic Historical Epic Film"


    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Buda, TX, United States 04-18-12
    James Buda, TX, United States 04-18-12 Member Since 2012

    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.

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    "A Grand Tale From A Human Perspective"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hunter Huntsville, AL, United States 04-06-12
    Hunter Huntsville, AL, United States 04-06-12 Member Since 2012

    I just achieved App Scholar!! 1000 hours in 1 yr 7 mo and 10 days!!! I never thought I would make it this far!! Thanks Audible

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    "Good tweener book!"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    The young Ceaser


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    I love the Romen times,close to the way things are ran today.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    Ya


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    Nothing


    Do you have any additional comments?

    Cicero is truly one of the brightest men hat ever lived!!!!!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Camille Milwaukee, WI, United States 07-15-13
    Camille Milwaukee, WI, United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Shorthand saves the day...over and over again."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. The book wasn't bad. It just wasn't good.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    This would have been a fairly run of the mill mystery except that the author seems to have a particular fascination with shorthand. There was no scrape or mystery or close call that was not solved by shorthand. Shorthand was mentioned so often that my husband and I, briefly, turned it into a drinking game.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Focus less on shorthand.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Allen, TX, United States 06-10-13
    Janet Allen, TX, United States 06-10-13 Member Since 2006

    I'm an avid listener. Audio books are a mini-vacation for me. They fill my "need to read" when I don't have time - which is most of the time. Great element of multi-tasking!

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    "Not for everyone... but I enjoyed it"

    If you enjoy Greek history and are curious about the figures who make that historic period memorable, this may be the book for you. After a number of "Who Dunnits?" and thrillers, I was in the mood for something unique. and so enjoyed this book a great deal. I can't imagine that I would always want something this dense, however. The story is of the rise of Marcus Cicero, a major figure in oratory, politics and theatre, told from the viewpoint of his slave/servant, who he apparently treated as a trusted secretary. (According to the tale, the secretary invented shorthand!!) The book takes the Golden Age of Greece out of the hands of those who would make it Olympian, and illustrates that the characteristics that make today's public figures interesting were also the characteristics that make Julius Ceasar and others in the story fascinating. The narrator was excellent and made each character, and there were many, unique.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Dallas, TX, United States 07-14-07
    William Dallas, TX, United States 07-14-07

    Semi-retired ENT doctor who listens to books while making a 55 minute commute to work two days a week.

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    "Dull"

    About the dullest book I ever listened to. I was unable to finish it.

    3 of 12 people found this review helpful
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    Jed Scarsdale, NY, USA 06-08-09
    Jed Scarsdale, NY, USA 06-08-09 Member Since 2001
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    "Imperium"

    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

    4 of 17 people found this review helpful
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    Larry 09-26-13
    Larry 09-26-13
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    "I gave up after 30 minutes."
    Any additional comments?

    Sorry I every purchased this audiobook, never heard of the writer or the narrator, thought I would give them a try. Big mistake. I don't know how the reviews got some many positive comments.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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