Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Lustrum - book review

by Robert Harris

I usually like Robert Harris historical novels but this one never really floated my boat.

It's a book of political intrigue set in Rome with the main protagonists all scheming to attain dominance with varying degrees of corruption. In many ways the plotline was contemporary, revealing low little the passage of two millennium has altered human nature, and how little politics has changed at a human level.

Perhaps the most interesting twist was in the choice of narrator, with Harris employing a slave servant to the chief (and only really honorable) character who saw all and recorded his observations faithfully.

This really should have been a winning mix but somehow it took me over a month to wade my way through to the end - nor exactly a page turner then!

Maybe it was the confusion of names which all seemed to start with the letter "C"  which lost me, or maybe it was the convoluted plot I don't know. One way or another I found it interesting rather than compelling, informative rather than entertaining.

I found that I didn't really care that a corrupt Caesar gained control, or that the chief character was forced to flee for his life. In the end I was just relieved to have finished and be free to move onto something more interesting.

Too informative to ditch half read but too dull to justify the effort. Better never to start at all.

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