The second installment in Richard Harris’ trilogy about ancient Rome, Conspirata takes Cicero to the heights of his career, as consul and “Father of his Country” for saving the Republic from the Catiline Conspiracy. However, wheels within wheels are always working in politics, and an even deeper level of intrigue will be shaping the future of the Western World, as Gaius Julius Caesar starts making his power grab. The author has an excellent sense of narrative, for the richness of history, and even lets his prose style mimic (and quote) the cadences of Ciceronian Latin.
I'm tacking this review onto all the books of this trilogy:
I'm stealing a section of a lengthy review I wrote for Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome 7 book series. I loved her books, and said of them:
" If you're interested in popularized Roman history, this is a treasure. The writing is good, if not quite up to the standard of Robert Graves' two volume set "I, Claudius," and "Claudius the God," or Robert Harris' Cicero trilogy. If you have read and enjoyed any of these, however, you MUST read them all - in chronological order, of course. It is particularly interesting that McCullough seems more or less in the Caesar-worshipping camp. He was a prodigy; he was too good at too many things, which in the end had a lot to do with his downfall. But what a magnificent creature he was!
However, Cicero was Caesar's mortal enemy, and Robert Harris' books tell much of the same story as we find in McCullough - from a diametrically opposed point of view."
And it's true, Harris is a more subtle and nuanced narrator. Perhaps it has partly to do with the narrator's voice, which is that of Tiro, Cicero's secretary. It lends immediacy and personal intensity, and can be an excellent literary device. Remember Watson and Holmes, Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolf.
I wish Harris had stretched it to four books.
Roman history turned into a gripping thriller in this fictional account of Cicero and Julius Caesar.
Lustrum was published under the title Conspirata in the US.
Lustrum and Conspirata seem to be the same novel under different titles.
I had a hard time keeping track of the intrigue and the difficult names. I guess I haven't read much ancient roman history and I didn't see a lot of recognizable characters (well, Julius C. and Cicero and Mark A., I guess). Tiro basically tells us that Rome is every bit as slimy and corrupt as we suspected and no one is who he/she seems. Without familiarity and interest in ancient Roman government and philosophy, it's hard to really enjoy this slow-paced book describing every little action.
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