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A Novel of Ancient Rome
Narrated by: Simon Jones
Series: Imperium, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (2,483 ratings)

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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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Super book

This is a really good book, fascinating story with a wonderful narrator. Recommended it highly. I have listened to it twice now. The narrator is just such a joy.

25 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • Roseville, CA, United States
  • 03-13-10

Excellent Courtroom and Political Thriller

You know how some Roman names, despite 2000+ years of history sound familiar? After this book you will understand why the name Cicero still resonates.

I always give 5 stars to "must reads".

Now Cicero is not just some famous Roman somebody but becomes an endearing person to any astute reader. (Yes, even if you're not big on lawyers. - the poor souls get a bad rap) Perry Mason can't hold a flame to Cicero!

If you like great courtroom dramas, Cicero, a lawyer, has his share of excellent courtroom battles and will cross the sword of his cleverness and wit against some of the nastiest characters I've ever heard of in a book. Real drama.

An awesome production, from the excellent narration & editing (i.e. no distracting sounds) you come to feel you know the man and admire a true genius at work. His slave (It is from his point of view the story is told.) is remarkable as well as indeed he invented one of the early forms of shorthand. (fact checked)

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Engrossing read

I chose this audiobook after having read the same author's historical novel Pompeii. Both books are fascinating re-tellings of events in the Roman Empire. While Pompeii carries the reader along with both political intrigue and the drama of natural disaster, Imperium is a historical novel primarily about politics in ancient Rome. Never having studied Latin or the literature from that period, I enjoyed learning about famous leaders and personalities from the period. Occasionally, I found the story to be just bit confusing for someone not already well-versed in the history. Spending 10 minutes on the internet reading a summary of the history from this period alleviated my ignorance and made the novel all the more enjoyable. While reading this book, I could not help but be reminded of frequent abuse of power by some leaders in the contemporary world. Quite higly recommended.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Naration, Great Book

This book got me started on my Ancient Rome kick! It made me so interested in ancient Rome, and the political environment during the era of Caesar, that I have since read (or listened) to several other books on the topic. I think that this author does a better job than others of keeping charactor names from getting confusing and explaining the nuances of the Roman political machinery. Suprisingly, I found myself drawing paralells between that government and our own. This book really made me think about the attributes that define the master politician and how they have changed in modern times.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fun Way to Learn About Republican Rome

This book is engaging and exciting. Exciting may seem like a strange way to describe a book about a political figure of the First Century BC. But it will definitely keep you wondering how Cicero will get out of the current predicament or overcome the odds. Written from the imaginary journal of Cicero's slave (the slave did write a journal which has been lost), you get a personal, up-close account of Cicero. It is like a classical version of the exclusive XYZ network intimate interview with the President but told in a narrative form. I think most readers will like this one. My 17 and 14-year old sons rally enjoyed this listen as well.

31 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • Ave Maria, FL, USA
  • 03-07-10

This book, as posted, is missing the 15th chapter

This book as posted, though I can't imagine the original recording is the same, is missing the 15th chapter (Roll XV). I had to go onto and "Search Inside" to read the chapter that was missing. Otherwise, a decent reading; I say "decent" because Jones, the reader, does make an effort at the voices, though the results aren't inspiring.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carol
  • Massachusetts
  • 05-13-13

As Good As Historical Fiction Gets

A marvelous book. Law and politics in Republican Rome with all its shenanigans and back-room bargains. A brilliant portrayal of one of those eras when there were more larger-than-life personalities on the scene than the scene could comfortably hold. The convergence and clashes of these men (Cicero, Julius Caeser, Pompey, Crassus, Mark Antony, to name a few) and the ensuing intrigues are here told in the very human voice of Tiro, a historical figure who was Cicero's secretary (first as a slave, later freed).

In order to record every word of Cicero's oratory, Tiro invented the art of shorthand--a skill that figures prominently (if apocryphally) in this book's climax. He is known to have lived into his nineties--long after the death of Cicero--and is believed to have written a biography of the Great Man that was lost to history. This is a magnificent fictional reimagination of such a biography, told in a modern and engrossing voice by Robert Harris, (author of "Fatherland," "Ghost Writer," "Pompeii" and "The Fear Index"--all well worth reading). To add to the joy is the narration by Simon Jones, one of the best readers out there.

"Imperium" is the first of a trilogy and ends with Cicero's election as consul. The second book, "Conspirata" ("Lustrum" in the UK), covers his consulship and is an amazing view of Catalina's conspiracy. "Dictator" covers Cicero's life during civil wars that finally ended the Republic, the reign of Julius Caesar, and its aftermath.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Armen
  • 02-04-08

A Great Listen

Excellent hisorical fiction - if you like that sort of book. Great reader. If you like books that take you back in time and tell you a fascinating story with interesting characters - you found it.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • Champaign, IL, United States
  • 05-27-07

Unexpected gem!

While historical fiction is my favortie genre, I am not a particular fan of stories set in ancient Rome. However, I was intrigued by the idea of the story being told from the point of view of Cicero's slave, and decided to order it. To my amazement, this turned out to be one of the best hitorical fiction novels I have ever read. I would highly recommend it.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joesph
  • venice, CA, USA
  • 09-20-06


so well written and so well read. also read pompeii. both a brilliant writter and brilliant reader.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful