Synopses & Reviews
In national bestseller The Dream of Scipio, acclaimed author Iain Pears intertwines three intellectual mysteries, three love stories, and three of the darkest moments in human history. United by a classical text called "The Dream of Scipio," three men struggle to find refuge for their hearts and minds from the madness that surrounds them in the final days of the Roman Empire, in the grim years of the Black Death, and in the direst hours of World War II. An ALA Booklist Editors' Choice.
Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost and The Portrait are also available from Riverhead Books.
"Pears' elaborate narrative triptych is dazzling for its structure, its complexity, and the richness of thought that gives it texture. But, finally, it is the passion of the love stories, undercutting bloodless philosophy while embracing the messiness of life, that lets the novel soar." Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)
"[Pears's] latest novel, The Dream of Scipio
, is another category-buster, a work of such philosophical and cultural complexity that its greatest mystery is 'How can Pears know so much?' Pears's canvas has never been larger (Western culture), or his concerns more profound (What is civilization?). Summarizing this complicated story risks intimidating readers away, but while it's good to be prepared for some work this is another wildly entertaining novel....Each of these three story lines is so compelling that every break inspires a little regret that you have to leave one and a little thrill that you get to rejoin another....This is a novel for our time about all time. Those who ignore Iain Pears are doomed to repeat the past." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
(read the entire CSM review
"Pears has a nice sense of what it means to live in a time when things fall apart, and not only the center but even the peripheries will not hold. But the readers who flocked to An Instance of the Fingerpost might not find the pages turning so fast in this less mystery-driven outing." Publishers Weekly
An entirely satisfying symphony of story and substance...ingeniously imagined. (Washington Post)
Pears leaves us with a dream, not only of destruction, but of immense and unexpected heroism. (Boston Globe)
"At times, Pears' weighty themes take precedence over plot and character development, and the narrative lacks dramatic tension. At these moments, this formidably intelligent novel resembles a ponderous treatise more than a fluid and convincing work of fiction." Susan Tekulve, Book Magazine
"[A]n enormously accomplished work that stands as a learned novel of ideas, a meditation on history and a moving love story, all rolled into one volume....The intellectual range of the novel is vast. Yet Scipio is far from a dry piece of academic discourse. At the heart of the novel lies a moving love story....This tandem of thought-provoking ideas and dramatic human situations makes The Dream of Scipio a worthy successor to Fingerpost." Mark Tarallo, BookPage
A novel for our time about all time. Wildly entertaining. (The Christian Science Monitor)
This is a dream that will stay with the reader for a long, long time. (Montreal Gazette)
"The Dream of Scipio is complex, surprising and thought-provoking, a dream of a novel in more senses than one." The Wall Street Journal
"There are many beautiful passages, certainly, but the central aspects of the book would have been better treated in a study of real writers than in this oddly fictionalised form of scholarship....Pears seems to think that literary fiction is simply crime-writing without the plot. This ambitious novel is so busy chasing its tail that it forgets to go forwards." Jonathan Heawood, The Observer (London)
"Pears possesses that wildly rare quality displayed only by writers like A.S. Byatt in Possession or Umberto Eco in The Name of the Rose: the ability to be both extraordinarily erudite and thoroughly capable of writing a novel that the intellectually unwashed can enjoy....Pears makes you think and want to learn more. This is not escapist literature but educational in the very best sense of the word..." USA Today
Complex, surprising and thought-provoking, a dream of a novel in more senses than one. (Wall Street Journal)
"A thrilling journey through history, into the human heart and soul."Washington Post
"Braiding together parallel plots of romance and political intrigue set in Provence during three dark eras, The Dream of Scipio is a murder mystery on the grandest scale...[Pears] invests his complex story with piquancy, irony, and humor. Their is much to ponder here, from Neoplatonic philosophy to anti-Semitism to public duty...Eye-opening."People
"A multilayered tale of moral choice, love, danger and loss."The New York Times Book Review
"An adventure and achievement to match An Instance of the Fingerpost."San Francisco Chronicle
"A dazzling triptych of love and ideas...Pears leaves us with a dream, not only of destruction, but of immense and unexpected heroism."Boston Globe
"[An] ambitious, heartfelt, and thought-provoking book, one that should find a home in the heart of every thinking reader."Portland Oregonian
"This is a dream that will stay with the reader for a long, long time."Montreal Gazette
"A novel for our time about all time. Wildly entertaining."The Christian Science Monitor
"Complex, surprising and thought-provoking, a dream of a novel in more senses than one."Wall Street Journal
The bestselling author of An Instance of the Fingerpost intertwines three intellectual mysteries, three love stories and three of the darkest moments in human history.
The bestselling author of "An Instance of the Fingerpost" intertwines three intellectual mysteries, three love stories--and three of the darkest moments in human history: the final days of the Roman Empire, the grim years of the Black Death, and the direst hours of World War II.
About the Author
Iain Pears was born in 1955. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, he has worked as a journalist, an art historian, and a television consultant in England, France, Italy, and the United States. He is the author of seven highly praised detective novels, a book of art history, and countless articles on artistic, financial, and historical subjects, as well as the international bestseller An Instance of the Fingerpost. He lives in Oxford, England.