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Pompeii (2003)

by Robert Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8711441,844 (3.6)195
When the aqueduct that brings fresh water to thousands of people around the bay of Naples fails, Roman engineer Marius Primus heads to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius to investigate, only to come face to face with an impending catastrophe.
  1. 10
    Pompeii: The Life of A Roman Town by Mary Beard (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: A comprehensive and entertaining look at what life in Pompeii might really have been like (and incidentally, Beard namechecks Harris' book).
  2. 00
    Imperium by Robert Harris (rakerman)
    rakerman: Imperium, the first book in Harris' Cicero trilogy, has a very well-framed and grounded tale of elite Romans, heavily based in real history.
  3. 00
    The Ghost by Robert Harris (HenriMoreaux)
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» See also 195 mentions

English (124)  Dutch (4)  German (4)  Swedish (2)  French (2)  Danish (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (143)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
I think Harris picked the wrong protagonist and surrounding characters.
I understand why he wanted an elite Roman, Marcus Attilius Primus, so that he would have someone with a reason to interact with Pliny.
The dynamic of the young outsider Marcus and his crew that has open contempt for him doesn't ring true.
Rome is all about status and privilege. Their open contempt would close off many future possibilities and is out of context for a strongly hierarchical society.

In any case, this dynamic just makes for unpleasant reading/listening, basically they argue and snipe for hours (in the audiobook version), deploying the full force of (historically accurate) Roman visceral language.

The book should really be titled something more like "The tale of a Roman aquarius", as it's much more about the aqueduct and associated engineering, with volcanic details, than it is about Pompeii.

It's not really about Pompeii the place that much at all. It's much more about elite Roman interactions.

If you're looking for a stronger story by Harris about elite Romans, his Cicero trilogy is much better.

Unabridged audiobook:
There are two unabridged audiobooks, a 2015 one read by Steven Pacey and a 2003 one read by John Lee.
They both seem to be good readers but I chose Steven Pacey as his voice reminded me of Oliver Ford-Davies, who reads the Harris' Cicero books.

Well read by Steven Pacey.
  rakerman | Jul 23, 2022 |
Exploding volcano, ancient city, seedy sex and corrupt governments-one can be forgiven for thinking that such a combustible mix cannot spawn any novel offering something new. But Harris says 'hold my cup, I offer you 'Pompeii.''

We have an unlikely protagonist, a water, engineer, a contumacious daughter who falls in love with the protagonist and a corrupt riches-to-rags father and assassins.

What 'Pompeii' has going for it is a edge-of-the-seat novel. Otherwise its stale wine new bottle. ( )
  Amarj33t_5ingh | Jul 8, 2022 |
The eruption of Vesuvius foreshadowed by trouble with the aqueduct supplying water to the district. Young hydraulic engineer becomes involved with politics and corruption in the city government and falls in love.
  ritaer | Mar 8, 2022 |
Robert Harris has recreated the days of total destruction wreaked by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius upon the thriving cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum brilliantly, weaving together tales of intrigue, corruption, love and survival. Engrossing, vivid, unputdownable! I wonder how fantastic it would have been had this story been made into the eponymous hollywood movie instead of that pathetic one that was actually made... ( )
  aravind_aar | Nov 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Harrisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vink, RenéeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
American superiority in all matters of science, economics, industry, politics, business, medicine, engineering, social life, social justice, and of course, the military was total and indisputable. Even Europeans suffering the pangs of wounded chauvinism looked on with awe art the brilliant example the United States had set for the world as the third millennium began.

Tom Wolfe, Hooking Up
In the whole world, wherever the vault of heaven turns, there is no land so well adorned with all that wins Nature's crown as Italy, the ruler and second Mother of the world, with her men and women, her generals and soldiers, her slaves, her pre-eminence in arts and crafts, her wealth of brilliant talent ...

Pliny, Natural History
How can we withhold our respect from a water system that, in the first century AD, supplied the city of Rome with substantially more water than was supplied in 1985 to New York City ?

A. Trevor Hodge, Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply
Dedication
To Gill
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They left the aquaduct two hours before dawn, climbing by moonlight into the hills overlooking the port - six men in single file, the engineer leading.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When the aqueduct that brings fresh water to thousands of people around the bay of Naples fails, Roman engineer Marius Primus heads to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius to investigate, only to come face to face with an impending catastrophe.

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