A few hours ago, I finished the book Imperium by Robert Harris.
I finished the book on Audible.
I give the book five stars.
But, I have to warn you. I know that much of my audience is young. There are a lot of teenagers hanging out on this blog. Fine with me. But, I don’t want you to run off an read a book that your parents would not approve of. When they confront you, I know what you will say. “Mom! Mr. Thomas told me to read it!” Then your moms will email me. Don’t do that to me.
So. Should you read the book? Maybe.
Just so you know, it does include swearing. Curse words. Not many. In fact, I was surprised by how few there were. But, yes. There were a few.
There are no sexual scenes. I was surprised here, too. Pleasantly surprised, but still surprised. There were a few allusions, but that was it.
Mostly, the book was packed with well-researched, well-written, exciting history. Honestly, I loved it.
I started reading the series because every year, I teach Third Year Latin by Robert Henle. Third Year Latin is a compilation of the writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero was quite possibly the greatest orator of ancient Rome and he is the main character in the book Imperium.
I find that almost nothing is as powerful as historical fiction if you want to really learn about someone from the past. Maybe it’s just me, but the information just sticks when I read historical fiction.
For example, I have read Third Year Latin many times. This is a textbook treatment of Cicero. Yawn.
Today, after finishing Imperium, I feel like I am really, at last, starting to get to know Cicero.
Imperium is the first book in a trilogy. Next comes Conspirata, and finally Dictator. I can’t wait to start reading Conspirata. I have a sixteen or seventeen-hour car ride next Saturday as I am headed to Manitou Springs, Colorado for a week. I will be listening to Conspirata on the way out to Colorado, and hopefully Dictator on the way home. By the way, these books are long. On Audible, Imperium is about 12 hours of listening.
Imperium follows the rise of Cicero from “new man” to Consul of Rome. It is his slave, Tyro, who narrates the tale. This is a brilliant way to tell the story. We end up getting an up close, very personal, over-the-shoulder view of the life of the great orator. Now that I have finished the book, I feel I have not understood the man in the past. I felt as though I were looking at him through a distant, clouded window. While reading Imperium I felt as though I were in the room with him.
If you are in Third Year Latin by Robert Henle, I definitely recommend the book. However, please show this review to your parents first. I would give the book a PG-13 rating.
I have done the same thing to deepen my understanding of Julius Caesar. I felt I needed to know more about the man because each year I teach Second Year Latin by Robert Henle. Second Year Latin is essentially a reading of Caesar’s Gallic Wars.
To deepen my understanding of Caesar, I started reading the “master of Rome” series by Colleen McCullough. But, wow. I simply cannot recommend these books without serious reservations. They are often vulgar, vile, and disgusting. I would give them an R rating and at times an X rating.
It’s truly disappointing because Mrs. McCullough’s research and scholarship are impressive. That woman really knew quite a bit about ancient Rome. You could learn so much from her. However, she added so much filth, I do not believe her books are worth it.
I am still looking for a historical novel dealing with Julius Caesar that I can, in good faith, recommend to my students. If you know of anything, please let me know.
As for Cicero… I have found what I will be recommending for quite some time. I will be recommending Imperium by Robert Harris.
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If you want a more professionally filmed experience, check out the best-selling DVD series: Visual Latin.
Or, if you want to skip Latin, and just jump right into learning English words from Latin and Greek roots, you may enjoy the series Word up! Warning. Word up! is a bit wacky. You will learn a lot… but, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, too.