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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.

Critic Reviews

"Entertaining and enlightening." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting but CONFUSING...

I don't know if I am cut out to listen to this type of book! I found it very interesting and was impressed with the amount of information and research it must have taken to have written it. I was however, confused about half the time and when I was mid-way through I actually started it over in order to get a few things straight. So many people have similar names and the sheer number of characters was a daunting task to keep track of. I finally just left it on and stayed partially confused... and I hate to admit that I googled a few things in order to clear up a few nagging questions. It was a very interesting and entertaining ancient Roman history (historical fiction, I guess) lesson!

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Why did I spend the time listening?

I never could get into this story. I restarted time and again since I generally love historical novels, but the story just did not have anything I could connect to which is a killer point for me. This might be explained by the fact that it was so difficult to understand when the narrator went from one character to another. I listened until the end, hoping to get involved and was just relieved when it was over.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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"Absolutely amazing!"

This book was a delightful treat; I could not turn it off, highly recommend to anyone.

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Interesting and entertaining

This series strikes a good balance between historical research and story. The author creates a vivid picture of the places, people, clothing, food--without ever letting the story sag. The performer does a good job of creating the character of the narrator.

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Pitch perfect

What made the experience of listening to Imperium the most enjoyable?

Simon Jones becomes Cicero, Tiro and all the characters in a seamless way. The story is compelling, poignant and historical.

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Dry history springs to life - exciting!

Would you consider the audio edition of Imperium to be better than the print version?

Imperium is a good audio choice, as it's fast-paced, straight forward, and I felt no need to "turn back the pages" to review earlier content.

What did you like best about this story?

I was amazed at how many parallels there are between Roman Law and politics and our own. I loved the fact that what I thought would be dry (neither law nor politics are of great interest to me, nor is the Roman Empire, for that matter) ended up being one of the most riveting stories I've enjoyed this year. It's well written, it doesn't condescend to the audience, it's thoughtful, and I learned a lot.

What about Simon Jones’s performance did you like?

Excellent voice modulation for the different characters.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no

Any additional comments?

no

  • Overall
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  • Story
  • David
  • Hanalei, HI, United States
  • 08-06-12

The ring of truth

Would you listen to Imperium again? Why?

It is one of my all time favorite listens. I often avoid dry history books, but this one is full of real people involved in a fascinating story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Imperium?

This book and the narration brought ancient Rome to life for me. It was as if I got to know intimately, historical figures who were previously like cardboard images.

What about Simon Jones’s performance did you like?

Jones's voice has that ring of truth that makes the fictional part of the story merge seamlessly with the factual part, creating an informative and engaging tale yet avoiding distortion. There is an appropriate arrogance in his delivery that makes the words sing.

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Imperial Rome at its Best

If you could sum up Imperium in three words, what would they be?

Terrific historical novel

Any additional comments?

The time of Cicero through the eyes of his trusted slave. The seamy politics and dirty tricks almost make Washington appealing!

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Interesting but a bit slow and dry

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.

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Suspenseful, vivid depiction of the life of Cicero

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.