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Showing 1-10 of 44 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 61 reviews
on August 30, 2017
Ballista the bada$$; barbarian bred, but Roman raised, now in disfavor with Valerian, has a new assignment - persecuting the dangerous religious cult, Christianity.  Not a happy situation for him or his familia given that he is a warrior and a battle hardened commander.  An administrative job, given to him under suspicious circumstances, has him requesting and then conniving to be replaced.  Book two of Warrior of Rome adds to the intrigues of the imperial court and sets Ballista on a collision course with the narrow minded, noses in the air Roman patrician class, and which eventually culminates in a surprising and shocking turn of events (that I will not divulge - spoilers, you know).  As in the first book, Fire in the East, the author shines in his portrayal of the Roman court, and the events that lead to the inevitable clash with Shapur, King of Kings.  4.7 stars
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on December 14, 2010
This is the secoond book in the series I have read and I was not disappointed. I was initially intriged by the title of the first book because of its premis of East vs West and dating that conflict back historically hundreds of years. Mr. Sidebottom is a brilliant historian and an even more gifted story teller. If you like reading about what it takes to be a commander, the thought process, the attention to detail it takes to command effectively and how one must be prepared to deal with the unexpected at the most in opportune times, then this is a great read of historical, fact based fiction.
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on August 20, 2015
Perhaps the greatest strength and weakness of both this book and others of this series is Dr. Sidebottom's impressive dedication to historical authenticity. It immensely refreshing to read the story of a historical character who doesn't look at the era in which he is living through the eyes of a modern reader. We see in this book the casual brutality of the Roman Empire, and though Marcus Clodius Ballista frowns on some of its excesses, he does so in a way that would be historically plausible (As a northern Barbarian he occasionally looks down on the decadence and treachery of the Romans). For the most part Sidebottom avoids the annoying habit present in so much historical fiction of making the heroes wholly good and the villains wholly bad. Some of the antagonists in this particular volume do seem a little cartoonishly evil, but for the most part the characters are complex people who occasionally do good things for bad reasons and bad things for good reasons.

I was particularly impressed with his depiction of the persecutions of Christians. Sidebottom resists the modern temptation to be dismissive and cynical about historical Christianity, while also not shying away from the fact that these were utterly uncompromising people who could be very difficult to deal with. It's this almost obsessive attention to detail that makes these books so much fun to read. As someone who gets really annoyed by the slightest historical inaccuracy, I have found nothing at all to upset me in this book.

But this level of detail has some drawbacks. Every chapter begins with a very long description of the surroundings, recent events, and the thoughts going through the character's mind. It usually takes two or three pages for anything at all to happen. I don't generally mind information dumps every now and then, but when the formula becomes as rigid as it is in this series it can seriously bog the story down. This is the only problem I've had with this book or any in the series, but it's a big enough problem that I almost gave up on the first book because of it and it has showed no signs of changing.

If Dr. Sidebottom could just work on the rhythm of his stories, they would be nearly perfect.
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on July 6, 2015
This book certainly looks like a bridge book and thus suffers from lack of theme and direction. It is just going through the motions to tell inconsequential material that could be glossed over in two chapters instead of an entire book. It deals with our Hero, Ballista and the last 4 years of the reign of Valerian. When Valerian, according to this material, was betrayed to the Persians. Our hero the one voice against the traitors that was not listened to.

Our hero, Ballista sitting along the sidelines being given small missions that barely had a battle to show his skill as the Warrior of Rome. And so it is a place holder and as we saw i the first book where all the good feeling that had finally paid off being smashed by Sidebottom, we see that Sidebottom is more concerned with trying to teach us this history lesson where everything that happened to his hero is important, when in fact it has little to do with the telling of a good story.

So again Sidebottom disappoint, though there is hope. We know that even as Ballista is truly doomed here at the end of book 2, Sidebottom has more books for Ballista so the hero must rise again... Perhaps we will finally see if this hero can actually emerge heroically.
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on April 21, 2017
Wonderful series! I hope Sidebottom continues to right these amazing novels that truly make you feel like your experiencing life and death in Ancient Rome.
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on March 15, 2014
The author puts the reader believably into the ancient world and into the head and heart of a soldier entangled in the struggles of a threatened empire. Intimately constructed personal lives, imperial scheming, the physical reality of the Roman Empire and dramatic battle scenes are put together seamlessly. The reader learns great detail about this world with excellent mingling of plot and character development, but without the feeling of information dumping. I have enjoyed reading and seeing ancient historical material for many years - the Warrior of Rome series adds thrills and a sense of immersion in the lives and times. A very well paced and enjoyable read. Much more convincing and satisfying than most historical novels.
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on July 17, 2014
Harry Sidebottom is writing the best Roman military adventures today. Some are critical of the author's writing, saying that it is dry and includes far too much historical detail. But his dry wit and subtle characterizations, along with insightful period details, enhance and deepen the overall picture. You feel like you are there and these people are real, and that this all really happened, and that is what great historical fiction does. Not since Fraser's Flashman have I felt so immersed in a particular time and world.
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on July 3, 2014
Loved this second book of the warrior of rome series didnt disappoint me. Just started on the third one now and it looks as good or even better then the previous two.
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on January 13, 2017
Good read. Anxious to start the next in the series.
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on February 3, 2013
Having read Volumes Three and Four and now looking back, WOW ! The outstanding character development so far and that which will take place is truly remarkable. Had decided to read Volume One and see. Purchased a few other books but have since placed them aside. Volume Two lead to Three and then to Four. NOW can't wait until April for Volume 5. Harry Sidebottom writes a common every day understanding of what is was like to be on the Roman frontier in 260 AD coupled with a unique understanding of the life, military and politics which confronted it's citizens. History repeats itself, either 250AD or 2013AD, it's all the same. Experience it.
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