Finished Imperium by Robert Harris: novelised biography of Cicero up to his election as Consul. Rather good: dramatic, and making good use of Harris' thorough research and experience as a political journalist: the political tricks and manoeuvrings are astutely and realistically observed.
Weaknesses: feels a bit too contemporary, but no more so than most historical novels. It's also pitched at a pretty basic level so don't expect to gain much new knowledge if you're already familiar with the period.
There may be a couple of sequels covering the rest of Cicero's life, but I think it might be better to end here: the book ends before the most familiar period of the Roman Revolution with the Triumvirates and then Julius Caesar taking power. Carrying on could lead to both a depressing plot, and covering events that are over-familiar.
Overall, worth a look.
What I'm Reading 2
Finished The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian. It's one of the Aubrey/Maturin historical sea novels: read a bunch of them a while back but then got sidetracked. Coming to it after Imperium, it's very noticeable how much more authentically period the characters seem. Dr Maturin cheerfully bleeds his patients, spits on his hands before tricky operations; Captain Aubrey is humane for the period but still sees nothing wrong with the odd flogging and execution, has an unironic pre-WW1 patriotism; both are casually accepting of national stereotypes. In Harris's novel the characters seem rather modern: they regret the violence of the circus, and even given the corruption of the late Republic they seem to oblivious to the Roman virtues rather than rationalizing their actions to fit.
Plotwise, O'Brian follows quite closely the real campaign. This is hugely effective for most of the book; the action is thrilling, the strategy and tactics details and authentic. However, the ending is a little anticlimactic. As in reality, reinforcements turn up and the British win with the odds overwhelmingly in their favour, rather than against them.
Still a very good book though, a worthy entry in the series.
So I usually post my annual reading list in early October, since that's when I did the first one. I keep the list in a spreadsheet, and feeling oddly pressured: if I keep up the current rate I might have read more books than since I started in 2002. I have two heavyweight technical books sitting around: tempting to leave them till October...
Seemed to have survived four days in Belgium with only a pound gained, luckily. Good thing I did all that walking around.
Pacman game where you play the ghosts.
Depressing. 10 steps to a more datable Facebook profile.
A horrible romance (Shortish webcomic with storyline.)
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