It's fun, but it's primarily a set piece to play with some fancy special effects and some exceedingly tropey characters. The heroes are SO GOOD and the villains are SO RELENTLESSLY EVIL and the girl is SUPER HOT (and strangely contemporary-feeling) but whatever; we all know the volcano is the truly sexy one here and the rest is just window dressing. It thrives on build up, some of the snark is charming, and since it's so tropey, it feels really safe and comfortable and straight out of the nostalgic 90s. It's a natural disaster popcorn-thriller movie in book form. A super light diversion for an afternoon--assuming you'll be as way into the delightfully fascinating Roman architecture as I was. Because if you're not into aqueducts, you're in for a world of really boring pain for about 70% of the book and should pick up something different.
Terrific, could not put this book down. The characters, the plot, the dialog, the descriptions, all run together so smoothly. I have read about Pompeii and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius for years and yet I learned so many new things about them both. Harris has done his research and kept the story very close to the factual. I felt like I was really there seeing what they were seeing. I love Harris, I don't know how I missed this book of his.
Riveting and not a book that's easy to put down. The engineer combats corruption as well as the forces of nature. The vulcanology is credible; Pliny appears on stage to describe his Plinian eruption; the engineer labours mightily to maintain his aqueduct and quench a Roman city's thirst. And finally amor vincit omnia.
How good is this page turner? Good enough to get me scurrying for more of Robert Harris.
I learned so much about ancient aqueducts reading this novel; more than I ever learned in school. Even with that being the case, this is still a fast-paced action novel. You really feel the panic of the moment throughout this story. Mr. Harris remains a master of the Historical Novel.
Well written historical fiction about the time of the eruption of Vesuvius. I like the character descriptions.
What a good book! This book is a novel describing four days in Pompeii--two days before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, and then two days of the eruption. There are geological facts about volcanos and eruptions at the beginning of every chapter. The warning signs of the eruption are ominous. The engineering of the Roman aqueducts is truly amazing. Because we are surrounded by volcanos here in Seattle, this book hits home in many ways. This is a fast read, and well worth the time reading it.
An interesting novel but lacks literary tension because we know the mountain is going to blow. Characters might have been better set in one of the remote towns so we would not be so sure about the outcome. Still a great lesson in history and engineering of the Roman aqueduct system. Well worth the read.
A fictionalized account of the events leading up to the explosion of Mount Vesuvius told from the perspectives of an engineer, a young girl, a corrupt millionaire, and a scientist. Well researched and full of lots of interesting details about the culture of the Roman Empire, its amazing aqueduct system, and the causes and the timeline of a volcanic eruption.
Good story. Great picture of life in the Roman times and the social issues that made the tragic eruption pain so much worse. It even has some romance.
I've read this novel twice now and will no doubt read it again and again through the years. Perhaps the best parts, for me, were those taken from ancient accounts of Vesuvius' 79 AD eruption, i.e. from Pliny and his nephew. Harris makes the reader feel the heat, the desperation, the confusion. It was satisfying that some very arrogant characters met with fates worthy of their cruelty and ignorance, and others, good people, whose fates were also painful, met their ends with dignity and courage. But overall was the mystery of why the water sources are failing which the young engineer solves piece by agonizing piece that I find so mesmerizing. If you've been to Europe and have seen the aqueducts that have survived 2000 years and countless wars, or maybe the ruins of Pompeii, you will especially like this book. But even if you've never seen them, you can still get caught up in the drama and truth within this novel.
Oh, and not everybody dies!
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