I read another of Richard Harris's books, back in November, and I made a plan then, to go get the first book in his Cicero trilogy and read it. Well, I didn't do that, but my wife was kind enough to score a copy for me for Christmas! Nice, but... this isn't it.
In addition to the first in the trilogy, Imperium, she also gave me a copy of Harris's other roman era historical novel: Pompeii. Imperium is still on my list, but I'm finding that I'm not in a big hurry because the third one hasn't been released in America yet.
Pompeii is just as good as Lustrum (titled Conspirata: A Novel of Ancient Rome, in America for some reason) and I think it may predate the events of the Cicero trilogy. Pompeii as you can imagine, follows the story of the volcanic eruption that devastated that city in 79 BCE, as seen through the eyes of an aqueduct engineer, newly come to the area to replace his predecessor, who has gone missing.
Our hale and energetic engineer is soon knee deep in the local politics, and then water, and then ash. The story takes place just days before, and during the eruption, and Harris manages to squeeze in all kinds of information about Pompeii, and the other towns nearby: the architecture, the local governance, the Roman navy, daily life, art, literature and science of the day. The focus is on the volcano, and the signs it gave in the days leading up to the eruption, and about the Aqua Augusta, the Roman aqueduct that served Pompeii and the surrounding towns, which gave signs of its own that not all was well beneath the earth.
The story arc is short, lively and very entertaining, and I felt like I was learning something.
Read this book.