Thursday 21 June 2018

Dictator by Robert Harris

Intrigue, murder, assassination and the collapse of a Republic. Pompey, Cicero and Caesar - their stances on the current events, their personal lives, their failings, their triumphs are brought to life in Dictator, the story of Julius Caesar and part three of the life of Cicero, told through the eyes of Cicero's trusty servant, Tiro. An accomplished scribe, personal secretary and speechwriter, Tiro also invented shorthand - which he uses to his advantage in one memorable scene, where, hidden from view, he transcribes a whole meeting, word for word. Stenographers, eat your hearts out.

This was a time of significant historical happenings, and I love the way Robert Harris brings them to life - the voices, the shouts ring in my ears, and I can feel the dust on my feet as I walk the paths behind these powerful men. But this quote from the blurb is equally true:

"Yet the question [Dictator] asks is a timeless one: how is political freedom to be safeguarded against the triple threat of unscrupulous personal ambition, of an electoral system dominated by vested financial interests, and of the corrupting impact of waging ceaseless foreign wars? And in the very human figure of Cicero--brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful, and yet ultimately brave--Harris gives us a hero for both his own time, and for ours."

Oh, for an eloquent hero, like Cicero, in today's times. How refreshing would it be?

I loved this historical fiction - it almost reads like a thriller, and the immersion into the Roman culture of the day is fascinating and uplifting. 

5 stars

ISBN: 9780307957948

You may also enjoy Imperium, the first in this Cicero series. Or An Officer and a Spy by the same author.

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