Day 1193: Pompeii

Cover for PompeiiI was just as short way into Pompeii when I realized I had read it before, probably when it first came out. Leave it to Robert Harris to make a page turner out of a story that everyone knows the end to.

The novel begins a mere two days before the horrendous eruption of Vesuvius. Marcus Attilius Primus is the newly arrived aquarius for the area—the engineer who is responsible for maintaining and operating the aqueduct that provides water to the towns along the bay. His predecessor mysteriously disappeared two weeks before. Soon after the beginning of the novel, Attilius discovers that the aqueduct has stopped running. He mounts an expedition to Vesuvius to try to find the break.

On the course of his urgent journey to repair the aqueduct, Attilius runs afoul of Numerius Popidus Ampliatus, a powerful citizen of Pompeii. He is also attracted to the man’s daughter, Corelia. When in his work on the aqueduct, Attilius figures out what is happening on the mountain, he has to avoid assassins sent by Ampliatus as he endeavors to rescue Corelia.

The novel also follows Pliny, who as admiral takes the fleet across the bay in an attempt to make observations and rescue people.

Harris has done his homework, and his descriptions of the eruption are terrifying. He must have had the time frame right, but my only quibble is that Attilius has to cover so much ground before he gets to Corelia, I can hardly imagine she would still be alive when he got there. This is another well written, suspenseful novel by Harris.

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6 thoughts on “Day 1193: Pompeii

  1. Carmen March 23, 2018 / 1:14 pm

    I read it a long time ago and have it on my list to re-read. I remember the last 100 pages that relate to the actual volcano eruption being gripping, and needless to say, unforgettable. I felt like I was in Pompeii that day.

    • whatmeread March 23, 2018 / 7:27 pm

      I can’t think of many authors who can create suspense like Robert Harris.

  2. katknit March 23, 2018 / 3:06 pm

    Nice review! I fully agree.

  3. Helen March 24, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    I haven’t read this yet, but I love Robert Harris. I’m hoping to read his newest book, Munich, soon then maybe I’ll read this one.

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