There is much written in fact and fiction on the Roman Empire, and this book is a glorious blend of exactly that, fact and fiction. It is full of the ..Show More »jargon and phraseology of the systems, ranks, and legalese that are the basis of the federal rule that is the government system of the day in Rome. The book is set at a time that is pre Julius Caesar who enters the book as a lowly senator prior to his greatness becoming a matter of history, but as the book is written the secondary part that Julius plays, leaves you in no doubt that julius Caesar is one to watch!
The main part of the story told through the eyes of a slave with privileges, tasked with acting as a secretary for a man named Cicero, following him wherever he goes and acting at times as his friend and sounding board for the sometimes radical thinking that Cicero is prone to use. Cicero is a senator, and lawyer with less power than those he seeks to challenge, he uses his gifts of clear argument, and a huge gift for articulation, in writing and delivery of those speeches to win over those who wield the real power. Amongst the common man Cicero holds almost rock star status because of those gifts and as such when he does speak the people listen, and with that gift comes much responsibility which Cicero accepts with dignity and commitment, as essentially a good and honest man and never forgetting that at the heart he is but a citizen of Rome.
The story follows Cicero's rise in both power and influence. He however is an honourable and honest man at his heart and often comes into conflict with those who hold the real power and who are clever enough to use that power and influence to manipulate the majority for their own selfish ends. Cicero, does not let these doyens of wealth and power get away corruption theft and manipulation and fears no one in the delivery of justice and honesty in all things he touches.
The narrator for the book brings a great deal to the story and the writing which is littered with the words and phraseology of the forum,it's ranking and political positioning which Bill Wallis delivers these sometime complex phrases and words with confidence and clarity. His characterisations are consistent and well developed and as a narrator in this novel was for me the perfect choice for a book that would I think be at times a difficult read without him there. I like this book a lot for its assumed and educated approach, the story that unfolds and the intrigue and political sculduggery that develops and held my interest as it is both educational and entertaining, and as such I have difficulty finding anything negative to say, well done Robert Harris and well read Bill Wallis.
Needless to say, Bill Wallis is sadly missed. He was fabulous as Tiro, and in so many other rôles! It took a wee while to adapt to David Rintoul, thou..Show More »gh I've enjoyed his reading very much in other books. I'd got the feeling of Tiro as an educated provincial, but here Rintoul sounds upper-crust and establishment. Still, we all needed to hear the end of Cicero's life, and even more come to a resolution to the life of Tiro, who lived so, so long, and survived "interesting" times. Robert Harris has, however, kept me enthralled through 3 fat volumes on the life of Cicero, studied in Latin in my schooldays and written off as a pompous old bore. He was that, but more too. "Non modo, sed etiam."