Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Book Reviews of Pompeii

Author: Robert Harris
ISBN-13: 9780345475671
ISBN-10: 0345475674
Publication Date: 10/26/2004
Pages: 368
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 180 ratings
Publisher: Fawcett
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

49 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Pompeii on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Fascinating historical novel. You will learn much about Roman life, engineering, and poloitics set against the eventual eruption of the Mount Vesuvius.
reviewed Pompeii on + 216 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I enjoyed this book alot. It seemed to have been based on alot of factual knowledge about the times and the technology of the aqueducts. The story was engaging and kept me turning the pages! I happened to have visited the ruins at Pompeii about 8 years ago, and reading this book i could visualize the town I walked, but alive with people and commerce. I recommend this to people who enjoy historical fiction.
REGandalf avatar reviewed Pompeii on
Helpful Score: 5
Pompeii is a fictional story by Robert Harris revolving around the 4 days prior to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Attilius an aqueduct engineer from Rome was sent to replace a missing engineer Exomnius for the Aqua Augusta.
Attilius arrives and is immediately faced with a plethora of natural and manmade problems revolving around the water supply. The story evolves as Attilius tries to unravel the problems with the water and the missing Exomnius. Robert Harris has written this historic fiction well grounded in the technical information from this historic period.
So this is how I like to my facts well mixed up with murder, mayhem with an explosive ending.
reviewed Pompeii on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
What a great story! I thought to myself it's Pompeii, I know how it turns out, but it actually had a very interesting ending. Captures the time and place so well.
reviewed Pompeii on + 49 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Terrifically written, and keeps you turning the pages even though it's like a detective story where you know the ending. As a geologist, I really appreciated the clues interpreted and followed by the engineer to figure out what was happening. It's one of those historical novels that makes you want to know more about the characters - which ones were fictional and which were real, and how much was real about the non-fictional ones. Also makes me want to revisit what else I ever knew about Pompeii and the volcano and the archeology. Fascinating.
reviewed Pompeii on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
An enjoyable read. Kept my interest throughout.
tracey13 avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 309 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Excellent story. Mystery and history combined. Great characters.
reviewed Pompeii on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of the best historical fiction books I've ever read. This was a great story!
reviewed Pompeii on + 366 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I loved the way the story doesnt just replay the eruption of Vesuvius. Unforgettable characters, both good and evil, make the book quite different than others I have read. In the course of investigating why the water aqueducts are failing, an engineer encounters mysteries, vio;ence and romance.
reviewed Pompeii on
Helpful Score: 1
quick, entertaining read
reviewed Pompeii on
Helpful Score: 1
A fun read ... the author's knowledge of facts about the way people lived, about Pliny, the volcano and especially the aqueduct system was most impressive. Good bedtime reading.
reviewed Pompeii on + 90 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
engrossing from the very beginning as well as being educational
reviewed Pompeii on + 58 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good, but it could've been so much more.
reviewed Pompeii on
Helpful Score: 1
Very good historical fiction
reviewed Pompeii on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting histoical novel.
mimibottoms avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 58 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Interesting story about the days immediately before and during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (sp?). Told from the viewpoint of a man in charge of the aquaducts in the area... he knows that something has gone terribly wrong because water flow has stopped and as he goes about investigating, he comes upon the truth. There is a also a love story incorporated, as well as an interesting cast of "bad" guys and "good" guys. I recommend this for light reading.
MichaelS avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 50 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good historiacl fiction. The story kept me interested all the way to the end.
reviewed Pompeii on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Gripping story of the last days of Pompeii and exciting description of the eruption that buried the city.
reviewed Pompeii on + 8 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book historically speaking. The wealth of information was wonderful; the story could be summed up in 3 lines. This book brings in many aspects of Roman society from the brothels to the wealth and extravagance, however I found the the rest lacking. I walked away knowing just how wonderful and important the water system was, but was very hungry for more. Don't expect the darn volcano to explode until the last chapter or two and don't expect the ending to be that realistic either. Very well researched, but I think the author ran out of room for the story. Needless to say, because I love a good historically researched fiction I gave this 4.5 stars and would read it again...when I forget how that aqueduct worked.
anitag avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 78 more book reviews
This is a well-written historical thriller that takes place in Pompeii. It is about a young engineer who is given the responsibility of repairing the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to the Bay of Naples. He attempts to organize an expedition in Pompeii where he believes the fault lies. But he finds himself surrounded by corrupt soldiers in a violent town. Marcus Attilius finds there are powerful forces at work---natural and otherwise threatening to stop him and destory his work.
Great characters and plot.
Piper avatar reviewed Pompeii on
Loved this book. Enjoyed the history & characters. Author told a very believable version of what happened the day the volcano erupted. Well written.
kkowert avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 44 more book reviews
A more appropriate title for this book would be Amazing Roman Engineering Feats: The Aqueduct. Dont get me wrong- I think what the Roman engineers accomplished by providing running water to cities along the dry Southern Italian coast was nothing short of amazing and I did enjoy the story; however the majority of the book is about the aqueducts.

Marcus Attilius, an Aquarius (aqueduct engineer) is sent from Rome to Misenum because their regions Aquarius is missing. What he finds when he gets there is a mystery surrounding his predecessors disappearance, aqueducts failing and government corruption in Pompeii. The young engineer in his haste to prove his worth promises Pliny, the ruler of the area, that he can repair the aqueducts in 48 hours and restore running water to all the cities in the region. He sets off on this task 2 days before Mt. Vesuvius erupts. Can he accomplish his goal in time?

This was a quick, easy read which brings to life Roman culture, politics and the effects of the eruption on people in Pompeii and other coastal areas.
reviewed Pompeii on + 2 more book reviews
Wonderful depiction of what happened on that fateful day in Pompeii. Well depicted characters. Engaging plot. I recommend it!
reviewed Pompeii on + 13 more book reviews
wonderful book, a fictionalized account of the last days of pompeii and well researched and factual.
lucky7 avatar reviewed Pompeii on
I enjoyed how Robert Harris was able to weave his story around the Vesuvius eruption of 79AD. He did the necessary research of this dramatic event and made it an effortless read, I couldn't wait to turn each page. We follow engineer Marcus Attilius as he takes over the job of Aquarius, making him responsible for the large aqueduct that brings water into the nine cities around the Bay of Naples. He must find out why it's suddenly not working and is expected by the powers above to rectify the matter posthaste. Along the way, we are introduced to honest civilians, learned scholars, everyday thugs, prostitutes, a dysfunctional family, and even a blind workman. We also gain insight into the workings of the city's government.. "politics" hasn't changed much.
I've visited the Pompeii archeological site and listened to the guides. This book adds the human element and riveting descriptions. Plus,it creates a powerfully suspenseful story despite the fact we already know the ending.
reviewed Pompeii on + 142 more book reviews
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. Blazingly exciting. This book is new and still has dust cover. I was very careful with it when I read it.
reviewed Pompeii on + 52 more book reviews
VERY well-written mystery, set in Pompeii just before the eruption of Vesuvius. The historical details are fascinating.
TarynC avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 213 more book reviews
I found this book very boring. I expected a more "Human" story and it was really very technical. I think it would be fascinating for a scientist or engineer but I found those details extremely slow moving and put it down after 1/3 of the way through.
steen avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 15 more book reviews
I loved this book. Went searching for more by the author, hoping for another just as good. After I finished my husband read it quickly. Even though we are all aware of Pompeii's fate, the central character, (an engineer in charge of the aqueduct) the plot is fast paced and the characters are real. The climax at the end of the book leaves you racing to the finish, wondering if the bad guys will reach an 'ashy' end and if the hero will survive. All the while you learn about the ancient Romans, their society and how their cities and baths were kept operating.
reviewed Pompeii on + 38 more book reviews
From Publishers Weekly
In this fine historical by British novelist Harris (Archangel; Enigma; Fatherland), an upstanding Roman engineer rushes to repair an aqueduct in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which, in A.D. 79, is getting ready to blow its top. Young Marcus Attilius Primus becomes the aquarius of the great Aqua Augusta when its former chief engineer disappears after 20 years on the job. When water flow to the coastal town of Misenum is interrupted, Attilius convinces the admiral of the Roman fleet-the scholar Pliny the Elder-to give him a fast ship to Pompeii, where he finds the source of the problem in a burst sluiceway. Lively writing, convincing but economical period details and plenty of intrigue keep the pace quick, as Attilius meets Corelia, the defiant daughter of a vile real estate speculator, who supplies him with documents implicating her father and Attilius's predecessor in a water embezzlement scheme. Attilius has bigger worries, though: a climb up Vesuvius reveals that an eruption is imminent. Before he can warn anyone, he's ambushed by the double-crossing foreman of his team, Corvax, and a furious chase ensues. As the volcano spews hot ash, Attilius fights his way back to Pompeii in an attempt to rescue Corelia. Attilius, while possessed of certain modern attitudes and a respect for empirical observation, is no anachronism. He even sends Corelia back to her cruel father at one point, advising her to accept her fate as a woman. Harris's volcanology is well researched, and the plot, while decidedly secondary to the expertly rendered historic spectacle, keeps this impressive novel moving along toward its exciting finale.
reviewed Pompeii on + 19 more book reviews
A must read if you a Roman novel about the eruption of Vesuvius.
reviewed Pompeii on + 55 more book reviews
Interesting; makes me want to visit Pompeii and other places in that part of Italy
justreadingabook avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 1685 more book reviews
I really loved this book. So much information on the the city of Pompeii and how the water system worked and was all connected. It was amazing, one of the books I will re-read. A fabulous read.
Hophead avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 284 more book reviews
What a great read! Meticulous research leads Harris to a detailed and comprehensible recreation of the Roman civilization, not to mention an exciting and satisfying story. My highest recommendation.
reviewed Pompeii on + 3 more book reviews
Great historical fiction.
tish avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 384 more book reviews
dry...yes in parts but if you like historical novels you will enjoy this one. it gives you the "backgrouond" on what might have happened on the days leading up to the erution of Vesuvius. it tells its tale from the perspective of the aquarian,the man who keeps the water safe.
a good fast read
reviewed Pompeii on + 11 more book reviews
Interesting and quick read.
Smokey avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 265 more book reviews
An historical thriller, about the last days of Pompeii. A very thought-provoking, richly characterized novel, with awesome descriptions of nature's fury. Lively writing, richly detailed, very engrossing.
reviewed Pompeii on + 54 more book reviews
The ruin of Pompii
reviewed Pompeii on + 7 more book reviews
great book!!!
reviewed Pompeii on
I really enjoyed this book. I love reading about the Roman Empire and the decedent life style of that time. I won't even mention the similarities in our way of life. This book was great in that it takes place in the last few days of Pompeii. It cuts right to the chase.
katknit avatar reviewed Pompeii on + 355 more book reviews
A bit dry in places, but the detail provided about the eruption of Vesuvius and its devastation of the city is priceless.
reviewed Pompeii on + 12 more book reviews
This novel about an engineer sent out from Rome to check out problems on the Augustan aqueduct was a real nail-biter All the way through, you know that Vesuvius will blow and feel sure the main (somewhat cardboard) characters will survive, but the pace is thrilling, The look at Rome through the eyes of a scientist and an engineer is totally un-hackneyed. I couldn't put it down - in fact it was a borrowed book & I eventually had to track down a copy to own.
reviewed Pompeii on + 2 more book reviews
Great book!
reviewed Pompeii on + 82 more book reviews
Interesting take on a historical event.
reviewed Pompeii on + 4 more book reviews
Historical thriller that takes place in the heyday of the Roman Empire
reviewed Pompeii on + 115 more book reviews
This latest "New York Times" bestseller by the author of "Archangel" chronicles the suspenseful last days of the legendary ancient city nestled below the slopes of the volcano Mount Vesuvius. "[An] intelligent, engaging historical novel.
reviewed Pompeii on + 265 more book reviews
good book
reviewed Pompeii on + 25 more book reviews
"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 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......" London Sunday Times
Want fewer ads?