When Tiro, the confidential secretary of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events which will eventually propel his master into one of the most famous courtroom dramas in history.
The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Cicero, a brilliant young lawyer and spellbinding orator, determined to attain imperium - supreme power in the state.
This is the starting-point of Robert Harris's most accomplished novel to date. Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, it takes us inside the violent, treacherous world of Roman politics, to describe how one man - clever, compassionate, devious, vulnerable - fought to reach the top.
'Sometimes it is foolish to articulate an ambition too early - exposing it prematurely to the laughter and scepticism of the world can destroy it before it is even properly born. But sometimes the opposite occurs, and the very act of mentioning a thing makes it suddenly seem possible, even plausible. That was how it was that night. When Cicero pronounced the word "consul" he planted it in the ground like a standard for us all to admire. And for a moment we glimpsed the brilliant, starry future through his eyes, and saw that he was right: that if he took down Verres, he had a chance; that he might - just - with luck - go all the way to the summit...'
Oliver Ford Davies has been working in theatre, film, and television for the last 30 years. He recently played Philip Larkin in the acclaimed Larkin With Women at the Orange Tree Theatre. Other theatre credits include: The Shaughraun, Hamlet, David Hare's trilogy of Racing Demon (Best Actor-Olivier Awards '90), Murmuring Judges and Absence of War at the Royal National Theatre and The Shape of the Table. Between 1975 and 1986, he was in twenty-five RSC productions.
Ford Davis's film credits include Sense and Sensibility directed by Ang Lee, Mrs Dalloway directed by Marleen Gorris, Scandal directed by Michael Caton-Jones and more recently Star Wars Episodes I, II and III.His television credits are numerous and include the popular mini-series A Dance to the Music of Time and The Way We Live Now.
An abridgement of Imperium (c) Robert Harris 2006
Published by Hutchinson in hardback
Produced by Stuart Owen
Abridged by Kati Nichol
Manufactured and printed in the UK
(P) Random House Audiobooks 2006
In his "most accomplished work to date" (Los Angeles Times), master of historical fiction Robert Harris lures readers back in time to the compelling life of Roman Senator Marcus Cicero. The re-creation of a vanished biography written by his household slave and right-hand man, Tiro, Imperium follows Cicero's extraordinary struggle to attain supreme power in Rome.
On a cold November morning, Tiro opens the door to find a terrified, bedraggled stranger begging for help. Once a Sicilian aristocrat, the man was robbed by the corrupt Roman governor, Verres, who is now trying to convict him under false pretenses and sentence him to a violent death. The man claims that only the great senator Marcus Cicero, one of Rome's most ambitious lawyers and spellbinding orators, can bring him justice in a crooked society manipulated by the villainous governor. But for Cicero, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of absolute power. What follows is one of the most gripping courtroom dramas in history, and the beginning of a quest for political glory by a man who fought his way to the top using only his voice -- defeating the most daunting figures in Roman history.
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