** spoiler alert **
Description: Ancient Rome is the setting for the superb new novel from Robert Harris, author of the number one bestsellers Fatherland, Enigma and Archangel.
Where else to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples. All along the coast, the Roman Empire’s richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas. The world’s largest navy lies peacefully at anchor in Misenum. The tourists are spending their money in the seaside resorts of Baiae, Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Only one man is worried. The engineer Marius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay. Springs are failing for the first time in generations. His predecessor has disappeared. And now there is a crisis on the Augusta’s sixty-mile main line — somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Marius — decent, practical, incorruptible — promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. But as he heads out towards Vesuvius he is about to discover there are forces that even the world’s only superpower can’t control.
Bought at Rome airport March 2010 for M’s birthday. Discussion points that raised their heads during reading:
– plot spoilers for this story are everywhere
– when those plot spoilers are ignored, Iceland is reminding us very subtlety.
– M is getting frustrated at the countdown method of layout
– ‘Who in their right mind would climb up to look at what’s happening’
A pal sent through a jokey email on Friday written in pidgin swedish/icelandic.
Put 30 billion euros in the bin outside the Icelandic Embassy and we will turn off volcano. Not call Polis.
M’s verdict – he thought the facts about the volcanoes and the aqueducts were stunning, and the story surrounding the historical facts, exciting. He would give the overall result somewhere between a 3 and 4 star.
My Verdict – I liked it a little more and the descriptions of the eruption were staggering.
2* The Ghost
3* Selling Hitler