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review 2018-02-07 19:34
Not exactly a review
Conspirata - Robert Harris
Imperium - Robert Harris

I loved listening to these two books! Therefore, I am incredibly disappointed to see that Hoopla does not have the third in audio. I will definitely have to check other sources - and get them all in paper format to read again. Great stuff! 

 

Funny thing, I only started reading these because I am writing about Reginald Pole and he made his own annotated book of the writings of Cicero, so I thought I should get an idea of what Cicero was like. If these novels are any indication, I like him just as much as good old Reggie did.

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review 2017-12-26 23:24
Dictator (Cicero # 3)
Dictator (Book Three) - Robert Harris

‘If only you will look on high,’ the old statesman tells Scipio, ‘and contemplate this eternal home and resting place, you will no longer bother with the gossip of the common herd or put your trust in human reward for your exploits. Nor will any man’s reputation endure very long, for what men say dies with them and is blotted out with the forgetfulness of posterity.’

All that will remain of us is what is written down.

I have not read Imperium (Book #1) or Lustrum (Book #2), yet, but if this last book in the trilogy is anything to go by, I am going to enjoy the first two books very much.

 

Dictator was not exactly what I had expected: Yes, it was a historical novel based on the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, but it did not read like the usual run down of a sequence of events and dates that I had for some reason feared it might be. In fact, the biographical facts are taking a back seat in this book and exist to provide a framework of what I can only describe as tense political thriller - which I guess is even more gripping if you don't know Cicero's biography. 

 

Harris chose a tone of narration that does not try to emulate what we imagine speech patterns or use of words to have been like in Ancient Rome, but instead reflects a more modern approach, and he makes it work. At least, I liked it, even if I can see that it may seem like it might deprive the book of some of that "ancient" setting. The politicking, intrigue, treason, madness, revenge plots make up for it in way that is less I, Claudius and more House of Cards (the UK version!). 

In a way it feels like Harris took an old story and set it in the arena of modern politics. Maybe he wanted to show that not that much has changed in 2000 years of politics? 

If that is what he tried, I think he succeeded. 

 

Another aspect, Harris succeeded in is the portrait of the main characters - Cicero, Caesar, Marc Antony, Octavian, and all of the senators we meet along the lines. 

Historical accuracy may vary, of course, but overall I could not say that any one character was portrayed as one-dimensional. 

I also really liked that part of the intrigues were spun by the wives, sisters, widows of the main players and that these were shown as an integral part of Roman society. 

 

I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

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text 2017-12-26 19:47
Reading progress update: I've read 72%.
Dictator (Book Three) - Robert Harris

I have been wondering about the cover design of this edition, but now it makes sense:

"From that point onwards Caesar’s funeral followed the pattern of Clodius’s. The body was supposed to be burned on a pyre already prepared on the Field of Mars. But as it was being borne down from the rostra, angry voices cried out that it should instead be cremated in Pompey’s Senate chamber, where the crime was committed, or on the Capitol, where the conspirators had taken refuge. Then the crowd, with some collective impulse, changed its mind and decided that it should be burned on the spot.

Antony did nothing to stop any of this but looked on indulgently as once again the bookshops of the Argiletum were ransacked and the benches of the law courts were dragged into the centre of the Forum and stacked in a pile. Caesar’s bier was set upon the bonfire and torched. The actors and dancers and musicians pulled off their robes and masks and threw them into the flames. The crowd followed suit. They tore at their own clothes in their hysteria and these along with everything else flammable went flying on to the fire."

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text 2017-12-26 18:48
Reading progress update: I've read 64%.
Dictator (Book Three) - Robert Harris

If you thought that having the family over for the holidays was keeping you busy, check this out:

Caesar Dictator to M. Cicero.

 

Greetings.

I am in Campania inspecting my veterans and shall be spending part of Saturnalia with my niece Atia at the villa of L. Philippus.

If it is convenient, my party and I could visit you on the third day of the festival.

Please let my officer know.

 

I asked, ‘How did you reply?’

‘How else does one reply to a god? I said yes, of course.’

 

He pretended to be put-upon, but I could tell that secretly he was flattered, although when he enquired as to the size of Caesar’s entourage, which he would also have to feed, and was told it consisted of two thousand men, he had second thoughts.

 

They had 2 days to prepare.*

 

Fa-la-la-la-laa-la-la-la-laaa.

 

(*Historical accuracy may vary.)

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text 2017-12-26 13:29
Reading progress update: I've read 26%.
Dictator (Book Three) - Robert Harris

Pompey regarded Cicero with crafty eyes.

‘So I hear you caused a stir in the Senate the other day.’

I have a feeling that this short quote embodies most of this book - it's fun, it's Machiavellian (before its time obviously...), and describes Cicero's life in one sentence.

 

Loving this book so far. It is always a sign of great historical fiction if it inspires to find out more about the actual history.

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