On the eve of Marcus Cicero's inauguration as consul of Rome, the grisly death of a boy sends ripples of fear through a city already wracked by civil unrest, crime, and debauchery of every kind. Felled by a hammer, his throat slit and his organs removed, the young slave appears to have been offered as a human sacrifice, forbidden as an abomination in the Roman Republic.
For Cicero, the ill forebodings of this hideous murder only increase his frustrations and the dangers he already faces as Rome's leader: elected by the people but despised by the heads of the two rival camps, the patricians and populists.
Caught in a political shell game that leaves him forever putting out fires only to have them ignite elsewhere, Cicero plays both for the future of the republic and his very life. There is a plot to assassinate Cicero, abetted by a rising young star of the Roman senate named Gaius Julius Caesar - and it will take all the embattled consul's wit, strength, and force of will to stop it and keep Rome from becoming a dictatorship.
In this second novel of his Roman trilogy, following the best-selling Imperium, Robert Harris once again weaves a compelling and historically accurate tale of intrigue told in the wise and compassionate voice of Cicero's slave and private secretary, Tiro. In the manner of I, Claudius, Harris vividly evokes ancient Rome and its politics for today's listeners, documenting a world not unlike our own - where the impulse toward dominance competes with the risk of overreach, where high-minded ideals can be a liability, and where someone is always waiting in the wings for a chance to set the world on fire.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your ears: listen to another Novel of Ancient Rome.
©2010 Robert Harris; (P)2010 Simon & Schuster
"Republican Rome, with all its grandeur and corruption, has rarely been made as vivid....The allure of power and the perils that attend it have seldom been so brilliantly anatomized in a thriller." (The Sunday Times, London)
Having listened to Imperium, I hoped for a similar tone and pace and was not disappointed. The political intrigue was brilliantly described, and the perspective of Tiro nicely used to add a common man's commentary to the historical events portrayed. I've read Harris (The Ghost and Pompeii) and find nothing is lost in the audible version of his books. The narration is first rate. The only criticism is that the gaps between chapters seem to be a tad too long-- causing me to thing my battery had drained mid-story. I highly recommend this book.
I've always been interested in ancient Rome, and thought I had an understanding of its politics and history. But I was amazed at how little I knew of the persons and events that led up to the fall of the Republic and its transformation into the Empire.
But my experience with this superb novel was not just a history lesson- far from it. Harris takes you through these epic events in a very personal way. Tiro, Cicero's secretary, narrates and I developed a fondness both for him, Cicero, and their allies.
The main plot arts through one of the most pivotal and intriguing periods in history, yet the sub-plots and characters keep the novel intimate and personal.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and am now downloading the first novel in the series (perhaps I should have started there). I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in history, Rome, politics, or simply rich character stories full of courage, betrayal, friendship, and drama.
Harris brings ancient Rome to life in this excellent novel. Cicero, Julius Caesar, Crassus, Pompey the Great, are as vital in the pages of this book as they were in life. Harris puts his own interpretation into the novel, making it even more interesting.
He does take some liberties with historical fact, but this is after all, a work of fiction based on history.
I gave it four stars because the narrator was good, but not excellent.
I too, recommend reading Imperium first. I can't wait for the third novel in the series.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is book two of a trilogy about Marcus Cicero. The book is a historical novel which is a great way to learn history. Simon Jones does a great job with the narration. The first book took us his through Cicero's early life up to his election as Consul of Rome. "Conspirata" tells us the story of Cicero's time as Consul and all the political drama of Rome at the time. Julies Caesar's coming to power during the four years after Cicero is out of office. The politics apparently has not changed over the year but at least now they do not kill each other. The story is told from the view point of his private secretary the slave Tiro. Tiro is given his freedom at the end of the book but chose instead to follow Cicero into exile. Looking forward to the last volume of the trilogy.
This is the book that follows the very entertaining Imperium. In Imperium we witnessed how Cicero used his gifts of oratory to ascend in the Roman Sentate. In Conspirata, we witness what Cicero does with his newly acquired power.
The story is told by Cicero's slave and secretary, Tiro. Tiro apparently really existed and is credited with developing a form of short hand and abbreviations such as etc. and eg that we still use today.
Cicero is a master of the political game and use his power of oratory, bribes, and spies to weave and scheme political plans to obtain what he wants, attack his enemies and protect his own position.
In Conspirata we experience Cicero when he is the most successful political figure in Rome and his fall from this position.
There is less of the brilliant oratory that was the strength of Imperium and there was more violence, deceit and cunning.
This is everything an audiobook should be. It has a great story, an intelligent text, and a superb narration. If your idea of a story from the ancient world is something like "300," with morons screaming out monosyllables while they swing swords right and left, you may be bored. But if you are a grown-up, you'll love it.
Contrary to the other two reviews, I loved this book. It's better to read Imperium, the first book in the series before you read this one. But either way, it's an enjoyable read. The fierce amibition and pitiless motives of Crassus, Pompey, Julius Cesar, and others will astound you. The history of the Roman Republic comes alive, enlivened by true life characters baring their warts and halos. The books are expertly read by Simon Jones. I look forward to the third book in this series.
Enjoyed this book. Would love to have met Cicero. Fascinating man living in fascinating times.
I listened to this book in the early hours of work each day before I needed to interact with the real world. Before I started, I worried that I would have difficulty following a history novel while focusing on my tasks. However, Robert Harris has woven a superlative narrative that puts you in the shoes of Cicero's servant in Ancient Rome. I felt as if I were there as Cicero dealt effectively with conspiracies among the Roman Senators, generals, and populace. I could feel the growing power of Caesar and saw him as a threat to the Roman Empire even though I knew he was destined for greatness. Clearly, the politicians of today would not stand a chance in a debate with either Cicero or Caesar--two brilliantly clever politicians who could turn any situation, good or bad, to their advantage. Get ready for an engaging trip to ancient times with this awesome novel!
If you like political thrillers, this is a good one. The series continues from where Imperium left off and leaves me excited for the next installment in the series.
The author provides a lot of detail from historical names and places in the later days of Roman history. Much better than the average historical fiction novels.
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