First Chapter, First Paragraph: Dictator

First chapterEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon. I’m currently reading Dictator by Robert Harris, the third in his Cicero trilogy.


It begins:

I remember the cries of Caesar’s war-horns chasing us over the darkened fields of Latium – their yearning, keening howls, like animals on heat – and how when they stopped there was only the slither of our shoes on the icy road and the urgent panting of our breath.

It was not enough for the immortal gods that Cicero should be spat at and reviled by his fellow citizens; not enough that in the middle of the night he be driven from the hearths and altars of his family and ancestors; not enough even that as we fled from Rome on foot he should look back and see his house in flames. To all these torments they deemed it necessary to add one further refinement: that he should be forced to hear his enemy’s army striking camp on the Field of Mars.


‘˜Laws are silent in times of war.’

There was a time when Cicero held Caesar’s life in the palm of his hand. But now Caesar is the dominant figure and Cicero’s life is in ruins. Exiled, separated from his wife and children, his possessions confiscated, his life constantly in danger, Cicero is tormented by the knowledge that he has sacrificed power for the sake of his principles.

His comeback requires wit, skill and courage ‘“ and for a brief and glorious period, the legendary orator is once more the supreme senator in Rome. But politics is never static and no statesman, however cunning, can safeguard against the ambition and corruption of others.

Riveting and tumultuous, DICTATOR encompasses some of the most epic events in human history yet is also an intimate portrait of a brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful yet ultimately brave man ‘“ a hero for his time and for ours. This is an unforgettable tour de force from a master storyteller.


I read in The Guardian that this last part of the trilogy marks the culmination of 12 years work. The trilogy as a whole has transported me back into the first century BC when Rome was engulfed in intrigue, conspiracies and civil war as the Roman Republic began to collapse and move into dictatorship and empire.  I’m loving the whole experience. Just as when I was reading the first two books, Imperium and Lustrum, I can’t wait to get back to it each time I have to stop reading.

10 thoughts on “First Chapter, First Paragraph: Dictator

  1. Not familiar with this series and from the intro, I don’t think it’s my kind of read. I hope you enjoy it Margaret.


  2. I’m glad that this is such a favorite book group for you, Margaret. I love it when I find books that speak to me so clearly. That being said, I somehow do not have an interest in this time period or not much. Not sure why. I don’t like books about the 17th or 18th centuries much either. I love the 19th century, especially the late Victorian period. Go figure! LOL


  3. Imperium and Lustrum were two of my favourite books that I read last year. I’m looking forward to starting this one after I’ve finished my current reads, so it’s good to know that you’re enjoying it so far!


  4. Such an interesting time period. Not one I have read much about. I am glad you are enjoying the books. It sounds like the author put a lot of research and time into writing this and the previous books in the trilogy.


  5. Very glad you’re enjoying this series as much as you are, Margaret. I’ve had it on my radar, too, but haven’t gotten to it. I intend to, though.


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