Saturday, November 7, 2009

Imperium, A Historical Fiction Book Review

Do you enjoy reading good legal thrillers, how about politics, or history? If the answer to this question is all of the above then I have the book for you. That book is Imperium by Thomas Harris. The first part is legal thriller a la Steve Martini meets ancient Rome, and the second part is about the politics in the first republic of the world. For those of you that have read Steven Saylor’s historical fiction on Rome, Thomas Harris’ Imperium is similar although more focused on the legal, and politics for Rome rather than the wonderful mystery of Steven Saylor’s books.

The central character that drives this story is the historical Roman oratorical figure of Marcus Cicero. The story is narrated from the perspective of Cicero’s secretary, Tiro. At the start of the book the writing style can seem legal in nature and too Romanesque. As the story moves forward, I found that this same language and style immersed me into that period of time. It became as if I was taken back in time and were listening to Tiro directly.

In the first three quarters of the book the author builds a nice foundation, which picks up momentum to a dramatic climax and then leads to an exciting conclusion. The initial foundation is developed with the rise of Cicero as an orator and lawyer by taking on a challenging case. This case and all the political drama involved was conveyed through some descriptive storytelling.

I would highly recommend this book for advanced readers of court room dramas or political thrillers. Imperium achieves all this with the backdrop of ancient Rome. A way of getting excited about History is to start by reading Historical Fiction. This book may peak the curiosity and interest of those non-history lovers to give History a chance. In this case the excitement of Ancient Roman Republic history.