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All along the Mediterranean coast, the Roman empire’s richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas, enjoying the last days of summer. 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.
But the carefree lifestyle and gorgeous weather belie an impending cataclysm, and only one man is worried. The young engineer Marcus Attilius 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 of Naples. His predecessor has disappeared. Springs are failing for the ﬁrst time in generations. 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.
Attilius—decent, practical, and incorruptible—promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. His plan is to travel to Pompeii and put together an expedition, then head out to the place where he believes the fault lies. But Pompeii proves to be a corrupt and violent town, and Attilius soon discovers that there are powerful forces at work—both natural and man-made—threatening to destroy him.
With his trademark elegance and intelligence, Robert Harris, bestselling author of Archangel and Fatherland, re-creates a world on the brink of disaster.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
Having been in
Pompeii in 2010, this brought to life the ruins we saw in our visit to Pompeii. Many thanks to Robert Harris.
This is a great book - a quick read, beginning with the first signs of trouble on Vesuvius and culminating in the eruption just a couple of days later - and has the best ending line of any book I've ever read. Highly recommended.
Brought to Life
Author Robert Harris brings ancient Rome to life in this novel about the eruption of Vesuvius. Most of the plot revolves around an aquarius from Rome who has to repair the aqueducts in and around Mount Vesuvius. There is a bit of a mystery thrown in about the former aquarius, who has gone missing, and a lot of space devoted to descriptions of ancient Roman plumbing-- probably too much of that. I found myself skimming some of the parts about the waterworks because, frankly, they got a little tedious. Where the book shines is in the author's meticulous research. He really brings the setting and people of ancient Rome to life. The description of Vesuvius's eruption is historically accurate and exciting. The characters are, for the most part, believable and complex-- all but some of the villains, who are a bit too bwah-haha evil for my tastes. Altogether, Pompeii is a book I can recommend, to fans of mysteries and historically accurate historical fiction.