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.
Praise for Pompeii…
Acclaim for Robert Harris’s Pompeii, the #1 international bestseller
“Blazingly exciting...Pompeii palpitates with sultry tension....Harris provides an awe-inspiring tour of one of the monumental engineering triumphs on which the Roman empire was based....What makes this novel all but unputdownable...is the bravura ﬁctional flair that crackles through it. Brilliantly evoking the doomed society pursuing its ambitions and schemes in the shadow of a mountain that nobody knew was a volcano, Harris, as Vesuvius explodes, gives full vent to his genius for thrilling narrative. Fast-paced twists and turns alternate with nightmarish slow-motion scenes (desperate ﬁgures struggling to wade thigh-deep through slurries of pumice towards what they hope will be safety). Harris’s unleashing of the furnace ferocities of the eruption’s terminal phase turns his book’s closing sequences into pulse-rate-speeding masterpieces of suffocating suspense and searing action. It is hard to imagine a more thoroughgoingly enjoyable thriller.”
—London Sunday Times
“Breakneck pace, constant jeopardy and subtle twists of plot...a blazing blockbuster... The depth of the research in the book is staggering.”
“[A] stirring and absorbing novel...The ﬁnal 100 pages are terriﬁc, as good as anything Harris has done; and the last, teasing paragraph, done with the lightest of touches, is masterly.”
—The Sunday Telegraph
“The long-drawn-out death agony of [Pompeii and Herculaneum]—a full day of falling ash, pumice stone, and then, the ﬁnal catastrophe, a cloud of poisonous gas—is brilliantly done. Explosive stuff, indeed.”
—The Daily Telegraph