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Lustrum The Second Book In The Stunning Roman Empire Trilogy By Robert Harris, Author Of The Acclaimed Bestsellers Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium And The GhostIt Is BC, The Year When Cicero Is Consul Most Of His Time In Office Is Devoted To Uncovering And Thwarting A Violent Conspiracy To Overthrow The State, Ostensibly Led By Crassus And A Group Of Disaffected Senators Underlying It All Is The Great Rivalry Between Cicero And Caesar Who Represent Two Different Types Of Ambition One Orthodox, The Other Revolutionary As Caesar S Power Grows, Cicero Must Face The Inevitable Compromises That Come With Power Is It Justifiable To Use Illegal Methods In Order To Save The Republic Robert Harris Yet Again Proves Himself A Master Of Historical Fiction As He Takes The Reader To The Heart Of Republican Rome With A Novel That Is At Once Brilliantly Researched And Utterly Gripping From The Hardcover Edition


10 thoughts on “Lustrum

  1. says:

    This book is the second volume of the Cicero trilogy The first is Imperium and the third has not been published yet The title of Lustrum used for the UK market refers to the five years in Cicero s life from the moment Cicero became Consul 63 58BC In the US it has been published as Conspirata The choice of titles for either side of the Atlantic invites speculation Lustrum presents a different Cicero from the one we saw in the first volume In Imperium we could witness the orator s climb thr This book is the second volume of the Cicero trilogy The first is Imperium and the third has not been published yet The title of Lustrum used for the UK market refers to the five years in Cicero s life from the moment Cicero became Consul 63 58BC In the US it has been published as Conspirata The choice of titles for either side of the Atlantic invites speculation Lustrum presents a different Cicero from the one we saw in the first volume In Imperium we could witness the orator s climb through the political ladder, thanks to his forceful speeches on the Verrus Trial, his first attack on Catilina, and on his election to Consul It was the story of a rising star.In Lustrum the rising of Cicero is at an end and we also discover a couple of his failings For although the book begins with his great battle and achievement during his Consulship year 63BC , or his dismantling of the Catilina conspiracy had it succeeded, the subsequent history of the western world would have developed differently , posterity continues to question the execution of the conspirators without trial Harris does a good job in presenting the case as rather complex, and not a simple and pure result of ruthless tyranny, and somewhat saves the hero like portrayal of Cicero Nonetheless, the facts are there Sadly and irritably, we also see him prone to the same weaknesses that we detect in our modern democracies politicians Cicero did let the illusion of grandeur feed his greed In his coveting too large and luxurious a mansion he compromised on principles instead of acting his writings, and so fell easily into the hands of his enemies.And finally, Lustrum is the story of Cicero gradually retreating in face of the overwhelming power that the three political beasts of Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus were massing and bringing to the fore Cicero after all was no military man and the pillars of Rome were physical and technical strength, not conceptual This final drama of Cicero s retreat is left hanging on our minds as the second volume, annoyingly, ends It certainly is a credit to Robert Harris s narrative abilities that he succeeds in creating a compelling suspense out of the life of a well known figure.This volume is so fully occupied with the very complex political intrigue, in which the many characters keep shifting positions in a Conspirata political ball, that the roman ness , which in Imperium seemed like an applied varnish, is better welded into the setting This dense plot also obscures the very quality that made Cicero such an influential figure in subsequent ages, his oratory And that is a shame.The third volume I googled around trying to find out when it will come out, unsuccessfully , will probably continue with Cicero s final confrontation with Marc Antony, and with the path towards Autocracy that the Republic was treading in its final years


  2. says:

    Harris has written a number of books about Rome and its Empire This one takes place just before the events that turn Rome from a republic to a dictatorship We have all the prime characters in play Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, Catalina, Cicero, etc.This book as is the case with others in the series is told from the perspective of Cicero s slave secretary, Tiro Rome is thick with politics as Cicero assumes the consulship We and Harris are lucky that so much of Cicero s thoughts have been preser Harris has written a number of books about Rome and its Empire This one takes place just before the events that turn Rome from a republic to a dictatorship We have all the prime characters in play Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, Catalina, Cicero, etc.This book as is the case with others in the series is told from the perspective of Cicero s slave secretary, Tiro Rome is thick with politics as Cicero assumes the consulship We and Harris are lucky that so much of Cicero s thoughts have been preserved and organized over the past 2000 years This is the foundation from which Harris builds his story of greed, power, murder and mayhem The first half of the book puts the reader right in the midst of a massive plot to overthrow the government The story begins a bit ponderously with a rare snow that has Rome somewhat paralyzed A body is discovered and, as incoming consul, Cicero is called to the scene It is the body of a young male slave, and the death was violent Cicero has no idea how entangled he will become in related events The death s significance is played out as the story gathers speed The first half of the book deals with his year as consul It has his greatest triumph as he arguably saves Rome from rebellion Lacking a famous family, Cicero is on the outside in Senate, though he is its head He has to fulfill campaign promises to his supporters while getting a majority together on major issues He has to balance the patrician faction with those who gain their support from the lower classes It all leads to constant conflict and shifting alliances In the second half of the book deals with how full of himself Cicero has become and the challenges of living apublic life and spending beyond his means The return of that triumphant general, Pompey, creates new threats to an Empire dependent on its army And, Caesar is always ready to seek advantage in even the smallest events In the end it comes down to what Cicero can do to impede Caesar s grasp for total control over the Empire The move by move chess game enlivens the historical facts of this four year period that was critical to Rome s future.Harris s has the ability to tell a compelling tale and he manages to weave seamlessly historical fact and fiction Famous characters such as Caesar and Cicero become fully formed people rather than the two dimensional names of history The conversations are well crafted revealing each historical player s idiosyncracies and enhancing the plot The fine details of Roman life religion, funerals, governance, and domestic life make this a lively and compelling picture of one of the most critical periods in history.PS Cicero, thanks to his writings may have been the citizen of Rome who had the greatest impact on Western Civilization for the next 2000 years His works, when re examined and amplified by Plutarch, served as a foundation for much of Renaissance thought And, his influence on European thought continued for centuries culminating in acknowledgements by many of the key figures of The Enlightenment Harris gives us the man, as well as his thoughts and does so in a manner that is easily accessible


  3. says:

    I tried reading Lustrum a while ago but gave up early on, sensing that it wasn t anywhere near as good as its preceding book, Imperium Except I really want to read Dictator, the final book in Robert Harris Cicero trilogy, which I m hoping will be awesome, and I ve been on a Harris kick lately, so I powered through Lustrum and I was right the first time because unfortunately it ain t all that and a bag of potatoes The novel is divided into two halves Consul, about Cicero s year as leader of I tried reading Lustrum a while ago but gave up early on, sensing that it wasn t anywhere near as good as its preceding book, Imperium Except I really want to read Dictator, the final book in Robert Harris Cicero trilogy, which I m hoping will be awesome, and I ve been on a Harris kick lately, so I powered through Lustrum and I was right the first time because unfortunately it ain t all that and a bag of potatoes The novel is divided into two halves Consul, about Cicero s year as leader of the Senate and de facto ruler of Rome, and Pater Patriae, that details his severe fall from such mighty heights The story centres around arch rival Catilina s conspiracy to assassinate Cicero and its aftermath, spanning roughly five years in total hence the title Lustrum, which is a period of five years, and the US Italian title of this book, Conspirata.Which sounds interesting and yet nah What made Imperium so compelling was the wonderfully viperous Caesar clashing with Cicero throughout which is why I want to read Dictator as I think that book is going to be full of that whereas Caesar, though his shadow looms over everything, is largely absent in Lustrum Instead, there s a lot of tedious politicking between way too many unmemorable characters too much talking, not enough action which just isn t very engaging or compelling to read.Some scenes are interesting the fate of the conspirators, pretty much every scene Cato was in and when Cicero goes to see Caesar at the end but it s precious few in a book nearly 450 pages long Still, Harris portrait of Cicero remains captivating and convincing and he brings Ancient Rome to life very skilfully As always, Harris writes well and things end in a tantalising way that makes me look forward to Dictator all the .I suppose given how things change for Cicero by the end, you probably need to have read Lustrum if you re planning on reading Dictator, and maybe you ll getout of this one than I did, but it s definitely a weak point in the series, so don t expect much from it


  4. says:

    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed other books by Robert Harris but not this one what I found here were far too many characters, little foundation for understanding the complicated norms and practices of Rome, and no cohesion to the story I was lost and did not finish sorry I think most people liked this


  5. says:

    This is a story of a gifted orator who is legally elected to lead his country during a time of great crisis, but faces incredible opposition from powerful people who use a variety of dirty tricks and propaganda techniques to enrage mobs of stupid people to subvert the law and government so they can seize power for themselves Oh, and it s set in ancient Rome I wonder why it seems so familiar today Robert Harris second novel about Cicero uses Roman intrigue and power plays as the back drop for This is a story of a gifted orator who is legally elected to lead his country during a time of great crisis, but faces incredible opposition from powerful people who use a variety of dirty tricks and propaganda techniques to enrage mobs of stupid people to subvert the law and government so they can seize power for themselves Oh, and it s set in ancient Rome I wonder why it seems so familiar today Robert Harris second novel about Cicero uses Roman intrigue and power plays as the back drop for a really interesting and fast paced book that reads like a political thriller The story is told from the viewpoint of Tiro, Cicero s slave and personal secretary Tiro actually invented a form of shorthand that gave us symbols like and etc , and he wrote a biography of Cicero that was used by a lot of scholars, but was eventually lost during the fall of the Roman Empire Harris makes ancient Rome very relatable and makes you understand the culture and politics while not getting bogged down in details He s got a knack for making all of the historical figures really come alive, especially Cicero and Julius Caesar Even though I know how this story is going to end, Harris has kept me on the edge of my seat for this trilogy about Cicero, and I can t wait for the third book


  6. says:

    Once upon a time, novelists could be simultaneously serious and popular Hemingway comes to mind, but even so Steinbeck, who had less literary pretension andsustained and pointed topical engagement Graham Greene aimed at once for contemporary relevance and durability, andoften than not hit the bull s eye with later novels such as The Quiet American, The Comedians, and The Human Factor Lesser, or at least less remembered, writers such as Morris West and Nevil Shute took seriousl Once upon a time, novelists could be simultaneously serious and popular Hemingway comes to mind, but even so Steinbeck, who had less literary pretension andsustained and pointed topical engagement Graham Greene aimed at once for contemporary relevance and durability, andoften than not hit the bull s eye with later novels such as The Quiet American, The Comedians, and The Human Factor Lesser, or at least less remembered, writers such as Morris West and Nevil Shute took seriously both the craft of storytelling and the novelist s responsibility to have something of public significance to say.The British writer Robert Harris is a throwback to this tradition a novelist who embraces a public rolefor his books than for himself as a celebrity or personality and who aspires both to entertain and to edify None other than Nelson Mandela has called him a writer who handles suspense like a literary Alfred Hitchcock He works with aplomb in several genres, from the fascinating counterfactual Nazi thriller Fatherland, to a fun and gripping imagining of Roman life and bureaucracy in Pompeii, to a brilliant, queasily political contemporary murder mystery involving a lightly fictionalized Tony Blair in The Ghost Across an impressively wide range of subjects, Harris brings to bear a distinctively British blend of political shrewdness and lightly carried but impressive and genuine erudition He s one of those Englishmen who really did study Latin at one of those fancy high schools, but who is well bred enough not to leave his less couth reader feeling inferior for not having done so Lustrum 2010 , retitled Conspirata for its US edition, makes good use of its author s presumptive classical education A sequel to Harris s wonderful previous novel Imperium, it purports to be a portion of a recently unearthed candid memoir written by Tiro, slave and private secretary to the great Roman statesman and orator Cicero The device provides a delicious fly on the wall vantage for Harris to imagine, and us to witness, what really went on in the late days of the Roman Republic It s like watching a political multi chariot pile up.Part of the fun of historical fiction generally, and a big part of the point of this novel in particular, is that we know all too well how things turned out in real life There s a lot of truth in the truism that historical fiction is really about the present day There are no lasting victories in politics, there is only the remorseless grinding forward of events, reflects Tiro and through him Harris, of course at one point If my work has a moral, this is it Forty pages later, in case the reader hasn t gotten the message yet, there s this Cicero sighed and said,to himself than to any of us, I wonder what men will make of us a thousand years from now Perhaps Caesar is right this whole republic needs to be pulled down and built again I tell you, I have grown to dislike these patricians as much as I dislike the mob and they haven t the excuse of poverty or ignorance And then again, a few moments later We have so much our arts and learning, laws, treasure, slaves, the beauty of Italy, dominion over the entire earth and yet why is it that some ineradicable impulse of the human mind always impels us to foul our own nest I surreptitiously made a note of both remarks.Such didactic points are well taken, but Harris is too good a storyteller to lay them on thick Lustrum is the best sort of historical fiction, replete with drawing room skulduggery and tawdry goings on demonstrating how little human beings have changed over the past two thousand plus years


  7. says:

    This certainly has the correct title Conspirata Yes, in every sense This is the second book of a trilogy upon Cicero s life and legend Here he is risen to a commanding peak of influence, has his first year as Consul and saves the Republic several times And he does just that, it s not an exaggeration Because there are personalities rising and conspiring to make the Republic stray far from the Senate and Citizen voting as prescribed by the Roman Constitution Catalina first and then a trio This certainly has the correct title Conspirata Yes, in every sense This is the second book of a trilogy upon Cicero s life and legend Here he is risen to a commanding peak of influence, has his first year as Consul and saves the Republic several times And he does just that, it s not an exaggeration Because there are personalities rising and conspiring to make the Republic stray far from the Senate and Citizen voting as prescribed by the Roman Constitution Catalina first and then a trio of others, not the least of which is our bird of prey nosed, broad shouldered and supremely arrogant Julius Caesar Pompey is there in the trio mix All the other characters both female and male are sublimely framed and each of their habits, abodes, compatriots, lovers, and haters set into their parts Or should I BETTER say, their roles Because they all play roles, and some of those during this particular changing Roman era play various roles quite expertly to differing people Tiro is still waiting for his freedom and serving with superb notice of detail And using his speed notation skills At times for entire sessions and trials, beyond just the scope of Cicero s speeches or defense litigation This is far harder to conceptualize than the first book when Cicero was training his body and mind to play his role for Rome, for government, for family, for expression of excellence Now each and every time the crisis of mob and patrician both comes to a peak crisis for power or defeat, there is another powerful head attached to be winnowed off Harder than the Hydra for every one head parried, it seems twoarise full blown of funds and or the triumph of conquering battle or friend acquisition.It s cabals and choirs It s an absurd sacrilege against the Women s Blessed Goddess It s too much glut of payoff from Macedonia It s dozens of other eggs in the air that need to be constantly juggled Which will fall Getting rid of some of our players for a year Defeating them for some time in exile sentencing or to govern a province The further the better but what if he comes home with not only that one but two other countries beyond that conquered Will that comprise a defeat or just a delay And as his highest adulation by the masses seems to pass how does Cicero grow to want that best view house Is he STILL the valiant and ever striving for fairness, reason, and equity of a free republic as he was Does he miss the continual adulation when he becomes a fixture in the forum.This is a book that resembles the mazes of contortion to upward or downward on the politico wheels of fortune The velvet tongue and clarity of verbal persuasions need to parry in circles Without much rest, or back slapping joyful acknowledgment Robert Harris has done an excellent job onthan defining this man His core, his goals, his self identity, his strengths in control, his faults in age progression And the Roman stage in such diverse and contrasting elements Nearly perfect too in all its parts For myself, I ve only lost a little.5 star in being able to follow all the subtleties and nuances The fault is mine for losing the enjoyment there within all this double face Now on to 3 Dictator And I can see already that Cicero will never be able to keep all those eggs in the air, nor fare as well against the trio of conquerors conspired now together This book took three times as long to read for its length So I m going to give myself extra time with 3 and go very slowly


  8. says:

    4 Stars Fantastic book I hadn t planned to read this book sequel to Imperium A Novel of Ancient Rome so soon, but it just worked out that way I found my copy a new copy I might add of this book at a book sale in my hometown for 1 and couldn t resist Robert Harris didn t disappoint and dare I say, exceeded my expectations for the second book in this series.We pick up just about where Imperium left off Tiro, Cicero s secretarial slave, once again narrates the life of his master and, whe 4 Stars Fantastic book I hadn t planned to read this book sequel to Imperium A Novel of Ancient Rome so soon, but it just worked out that way I found my copy a new copy I might add of this book at a book sale in my hometown for 1 and couldn t resist Robert Harris didn t disappoint and dare I say, exceeded my expectations for the second book in this series.We pick up just about where Imperium left off Tiro, Cicero s secretarial slave, once again narrates the life of his master and, when the book begins, Consul We follow Cicero s life from consulship in 63 BCE to the start of his exile in 58 BCE A lot happens in the five year span and that means that the reader is never bored We seeof Caesar, Pompey, and Clodius, among Cicero s friends and enemies This book hits the ground running and it doesn t really slow down view spoiler I mean, the first chapter is about a murdered, dismembered body of a young man pretty intense and bold hide spoiler There isaction in this book than in the first however, the action ispolitical scheming rather than outright fights, though there is some of that as well This book really is political fiction at its best Reading about accusations and evidentiary corruption, bribery, back door deal making was fascinating and made me think that not much has changed in politics just a bittech savvy now I found that Cicero somehow simultaneously became both smarter and dumber in this one He is undoubtedly a complex character and Harris did a great job of trying to capture that He had to juggle his beliefs I have a hard time calling them morals, even for Cicero and practicalities of life along with his safety I think that Harris did a great job of illustrating how illogical Cicero could be at times there were certain points in the book where I was yelling at Cicero not to do X because even I could tell it would land him in trouble Just don t mess with Caesar I mean come on I will admit it s easy for me to say these things because I have the benefit of historical hindsight unlike Cicero However even without it, anyone with half a brain could tell Caesar or Clodius or even Rufus waspowerful than he expected I also think that s a theme or at least a fault of Cicero s He seemed to, at critical points, underestimate the power the opposition had view spoiler It was absolutely fascinating to watch Cicero s life unravel, especially if you take into consideration where we started in Imperium hide spoiler The ending is a juicy cliffhanger and I believe that says a lot considering I already knows what happens next Anyone can Google what happens next in Cicero s story but Harris writing makes me want to read his take on things, and that is a mark of an excellent writer at least in my opinion Do I recommend this one Absolutely But I d recommend reading Imperium first ,especially if you have zero background on Ancient Rome


  9. says:

    4.5 starsNo idea why this book is also available under the title Conspirata I have it as paperback and audio book as Lustrum and was a little confused when it came up under the previously mentioned title when I looked it up here on GR Anyway, Conspirata or Lustrum, this is the second book in the Cicero trilogy and my favourite, although it covers only approximately 4 years of Cicero s political and personal life Again, I listened to the audio version but, unlike with the first one Imperium, I 4.5 starsNo idea why this book is also available under the title Conspirata I have it as paperback and audio book as Lustrum and was a little confused when it came up under the previously mentioned title when I looked it up here on GR Anyway, Conspirata or Lustrum, this is the second book in the Cicero trilogy and my favourite, although it covers only approximately 4 years of Cicero s political and personal life Again, I listened to the audio version but, unlike with the first one Imperium, I ll leave the audio performance out.At the end of the day, the book is an excellent account of Cicero s year as Consul that showcases his brilliance as orator as well as politician, and in which he has to exercise all his cunning and wit for his political and personal survival Directly connected to his fate is also Rome s status as a republic that is under constant attack by no less than Ceasar, Pompey and Crassus, to name only the big players It shouldn t come as surprise how a m lange of complacency on the people s part, the corruption on every level of governance and the ruthlessness of a few can undermine centuries old institutions and destroy the very foundation of a nation.I don t really want to venture into current politics but one incident came to my mind when I was listening to Lustrum The relentless personal attacks on the judges of the High Court earlier this year when they came to the conclusion that Article 50 needed Parliament s approval before the Prime Minister could trigger Brexit It was a perfect example of mob rule, disgustingly backed up and spurred on by the right wing media, eroding institutions that are there to keep the balance.Listening to Lustrum, I was once again reminded that in 2000 years we have learned nothing But these are my own observations and interpretations, and they should not deter anyone from reading this wonderful piece of Historical Fiction.In the end, Cicero stood no chance against the likes of Ceasar, Crassus and Pompey It s utterly fascinating to watch the ever shifting loyalties, schemes and backstabbing To blame the Big Three, who would eventually form the Triumvirate, is too easy, though The second part covers the time after Cicero s consulship and shows how, at the height of his power and reputation, arrogance and hubris played just as much a role in his downfall Finally finding his intellectual match in Julius Ceasar, the constant struggle for power between these two is most captivating.Once again, Tiro, Cicero s house slave and invaluable secretary, as the narrator is the necessary barrier whose observations brings the story vividly to life.I may be going through a book slump, and I may not be Bill Wallis s biggest fan when it comes to his narrative skills, but Lustrum is a marvellous story


  10. says:

    A fictional account of Cicero s consulship and the years until his forced departure from Rome, written by his longtime slave and secretary, Tiro, Harris has again written a stupendous account of insider politics in the Senate Tiro s narrative voice is generous but unsparing, exposing Cicero s greatness and pettiness It is hard not to draw parallels with contemporary politics, as populism is exploited money of the wealthy buys election victories and handsome men of dubious morals manipulate c A fictional account of Cicero s consulship and the years until his forced departure from Rome, written by his longtime slave and secretary, Tiro, Harris has again written a stupendous account of insider politics in the Senate Tiro s narrative voice is generous but unsparing, exposing Cicero s greatness and pettiness It is hard not to draw parallels with contemporary politics, as populism is exploited money of the wealthy buys election victories and handsome men of dubious morals manipulate crowds The research underlying Harris books is always exceptional and this one is no exception The plot centers on the will to power but much of the enjoyment is in the small details of Roman life, culture and morality A must read ufor anyone fascinated by the Roman Republic


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