From Publishers Weekly
In this blood and guts tale of ancient warfare, Oxford lecturer Sidebottom introduces readers to Marcus Clodius Bastilla, a third-century warrior who has risen through the ranks of the Roman army to achieve citizenship and the honorific of Dux Ripea
. Charged by the emperors Valerian and Gallienus with the responsibility of defending the empire's eastern borders, Bastilla says good-bye to his new wife and sets sail for the East. Once he arrives at the Syrian city of Arete on the banks of the Euphrates, Bastilla organizes his legionaries to defend against the besieging Sassanid Persian army and hold out until reinforcements can arrive. In addition to having his hands full with the invading army, Bastilla must also deal with traitors, saboteurs, assassins and patrician officers who resent obeying the orders of a low-born superior. How the brave and resourceful former barbarian defends himself from forces both within and without the city walls forms the spine of this action-packed and detail-rich narrative. This novel of sharp swords and blunt wit should find an appreciative audience among bloodthirsty battle boys of all ages. (Oct.)
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'Sidebottom's prose blazes with searing scholarship' The Times 'A well-constructed, well-paced and gripping account' TLS 'The best sort of red-blooded historical fiction' - Andrew Taylor, author of 'The American Boy'