Conspirata

Conspirata: A Novel of Ancient RomeConspirata: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although it has been almost two years since I read the first book in this trilogy about the life of Cicero, I was quickly reminded of the compelling way Robert Harris writes, which sucks you right into the time and place. At the same time it feels more contemporary than historical. Perhaps that is because in many ways our country and our politics has more in common with ancient Rome than with the medieval kings and queens of Europe. We left off in the previous book just as Cicero has achieved the rank of consul, and this one covers the five-year period ending with Cicero’s exile in 59 BC. [The title of the British edition of Conspirata is “Lustrum,” which is the Latin term for a 5-year time period.] It is not necessary to have read the first book. I think each of these could stand alone.

More tightly plotted than Imperium, this book centers around the conspiracy of Catalina. While initially successful at stopping it, and executing 5 of the conspirators, Cicero’s actions will eventually cause his own downfall. We also witness a deepening rift between Cicero and Julius Caesar. Told from the point of view of Cicero’s secretary, we get to see the heroism of his dedication to the Republic, but also a man not immune to hubris and greed. I felt this got a bit muddled in the middle, and I got a little tired of all politics all the time (would love to have seen more of Cicero’s private life – his wife and children – his writing, etc.) but I am continuing on with book number 3.

Narrated once again by Simon Jones.

Description: Elected by the public, yet hated by the patricians and populists, Marcus Cicero prepares for his inauguration as consul of Rome. However, the grisly murder of a boy overshadows his induction and ignites fear throughout a city already plagued by crime and civil unrest. To add to Cicero’s worries, he hears rumors of an attack on his life by the hands of young Roman senator Gaius Julius Caesar.

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