A fierce defender of the Roman republic and the rule of law, Cicero struggles to promote his principles amid marital discord and increasingly volatile political circumstances. He’s flawed but entirely human as he makes several disastrous mistakes and is obliged to make compromises to serve a greater goal.
As before, his thoughts and exploits are rendered via the lucid narration of Tiro, his loyal secretary. Spanning 15 years, Tiro’s account covers significant ground, from the breakdown of the First Triumvirate through the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, Caesar’s dictatorship, and the blood-soaked chaos after his assassination. The cast is extensive, but the plotting is brisk, and Harris never loses sight of his themes' – or his protagonist’s – relevance for today.
Dictator will be published by Knopf on January 12th (hardcover, 416pp, $26.95). This review first appeared in the 12/15 issue of Booklist, which went online today. I hadn't read either of the first two books in the series, though always meant to get to them; fortunately, this third in the trilogy stood alone just fine. If you're an admirer of Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series, you'll want to put this on your list as well. The British publisher is Hutchinson, and the second book is called Lustrum in the UK.