Audio Books: ‘Imperium’

 “Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome,” by Robert Harris. Read by Simon Jones. Unabridged, 13.5 hours. Simon & Schuster Audio. $49.95.

In what is being called the first book of a trilogy from the author of “Fatherland” and “Enigma,” “Imperium” tells the story of Cicero’s rise to power in ancient Rome from the point of view of his secretary, Tiro, a slave.

Though court cases and political intrigue offer drama, especially in Cicero’s prosecution of the corrupt governor of Sicily, the sex and violence are left to generals and others. (Fans of HBO’s lusty “Rome” might be disappointed.)

Nonetheless, for someone interested in ancient Rome, the novel can serve as a wonderful introduction to a complex empire where political machinations, such as centralizing power in the face of outside enemies (pirates, in this case), ring all too familiar today.

Jones reads with a thoughtful British accent, which gives the novel a familiar foreignness.

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