The Bottom Line
- Turns Cicero into a complex human
- Clearly renders events near the end of the Roman Republic
- Is not the story of Caesar
- Extremely easy to read
- Some anachronisms
- One noticeable less than smooth transition - hardly a serious fault
- Some important characters burst on the scene and then disappear
- Tiro narrates the story from the vantage point of the end of a very long life.
- Imperium describes Cicero from the time Tiro entered his service until he won a consulship.
- The first half goes through the trial of Verres.
- Terentia and Cicero have class-based conflicts, but love each other deeply, in Harris' version.
- Cicero has trouble winning over the aristocracy, but learns to make compromises.
- Only reluctantly, and not well explained, Cicero joins forces with Pompey.
- Cicero had his personality quirks that made and still make some like him and others cringe.
- Imperium evidently has the same effect on people, which suggests Harris got it right.
- If you dislike Cicero, Robert Harris may redeem him for you.
- Loose ends should be covered in the sequels.
Guide Review - Book Review
Some question why Harris ends when Cicero won the bid for consul. Cicero's election to consul is just about the pinnacle of his career. If you like Cicero, that's where you want it to end. If you find him a prig who got what was coming, Harris will produce the sequels.
Although Harris may warrant comparison with Steven Saylor, as a smooth historical fiction writer covering the same era, Saylor writes mysteries. However exciting Cicero's rise to power may be, the fictional biography is in Colleen McCullough's genre, not mystery.
Among legitimate biographies of Cicero, Everitt's makes Cicero little more than a background character for Julius Caesar, for which reason it's fitting that Caesar is little more than a cloak floating past in the background of Imperium.