Conclave by Robert Harris

As you can probably guess, ‘Conclave’ is about the election of a new Pope. Initially I was wondering how a novel about 60 and 70 year old men, following ancient rituals to elect a leader, could possibly be interesting. Robert Harris has not only created an interesting novel, but a totally riveting one. This is the easiest Robert Harris novel that I’ve read and also the most sensationalist.

The Dean of the Cardinals is a man named Lomeli. His job is to ensure that the conclave runs smoothly and the story is told mostly from his perspective. His job is not an easy one. There are factions among the cardinals based on whether they are reformists of traditionalists and also based on geographical regions – Europe, America, Africa, Asia Pacific etc. At times the different factions look like coming to blows.

Lomeli also takes on the role of sleuth. There are rumours about some of the leading candidates and he decides to discover the truth and expose any misdeeds – while still trying to keep the peace.

So there is some very unholy behaviour from the group of 118 cardinals. There is also some interesting discussion about whether the cardinals worship God or the church.

I was enjoying the novel and looking forward to the final reveal. Then, the last chapter completely blew me away.


This novel was a bit of a departure from Harris’s usual work. It was not based on an actual historical event and it was much more action packed and faster and easier to read.

I enjoyed it immensely and loved the ending. I thought it had just the right level of irreverence.


Book Published 2016


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