Date finished: 6-21-08
Author: Robert Harris
Category: Historical Fiction
Published: 2003
Pages: 274
Rating: 4/5

Basic Plot:
We’re in 79 AD, and strange things are happening in the Campania region. There’s sulfur in the Aqua Augusta, the wine is vibrating and there are waves, but no wind. The young, newly appointed aquarius sets out to find answers, which lie with Vesuvius.

My assessment:
Thought this was a pretty well done tale, in part because there weren’t a whole lot of the “famous” people involved. The other Harris novel I read previously, Imperium, started slow and got better, but Harris definitely does better without the first-person narration style.

The main character, Attilius, is definitely someone you want to root for, particularly as the ending of this story is very well known. As he heads for Pompeii just the day before the volcano erupts, you’re a little frantic for his safety. Outside of the girl Corelia, few of the other characters are sympathetic and you don’t really care that much about their fate.

Each chapter begins with a small bit of information taken from modern books describing what was happening with the volcano. Just fascinating, albeit rather dry. Which is why this story was such a better way to read about the volcano. Harris does a great job with setting descriptions and in developing his main character. All in all a worthy read.

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