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Iron and Rust (Throne of the Caesars, Book 1) Hardcover – 22 May 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (22 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007499841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007499847
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Harry Sidebottom is a Fellow of St Benets Hall and lecturer at Lincoln College, Oxford - where he specializes in ancient warfare and classical art.

Product Description

Review

Praise for Iron & Rust:

‘An amazing story of bloodlust, ruthless ambition and revenge’ The Times

Praise for Harry Sidebottom:

‘Sidebottom’s prose blazes with searing scholarship’ THE TIMES

‘Superior fiction, with depth, authenticity and a sense of place’ TLS

‘A storming triumph…wonderful fight scenes, deft literary touches and salty dialogue’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

‘Explosive action and knuckle-whitening drama’ GUARDIAN

‘Sidebottom knows how to keep readers hooked from first to last’ DAILY EXPRESS

Praise for the Warrior of Rome series:

'The point of the novel, however, is action, heroic deeds, and gore. The qualities a writer of such stories needs – imagination stimulated through the soles of his feet as he walks the scenes of his tale, and a sound knowledge of the period – are abundantly possessed by Sidebottom … a gripping book' TLS

'The latest in this series of novels on Rome’s Persian Wars, Lion of the Sun, is, like the first two, a book to keep you up well past your bedtime. It’s all about war and killing; I loved it’
EVENING STANDARD

'The lionisation of war makes my blood run cold, but Dr Harry Sidebottom’s prose blazes with such searing scholarship that there is enormous enjoyment in this rumbustuous tale of the late Roman Empire … Sidebottom treads in the footsteps of the greatest mimetic historian-storytellers of the 18th and 19th centuries. He makes you feel as though you are there' Bettany Hughes, THE TIMES

'Harry Sidebottom works on Rome’s 3rd-century army the magic that Patrick O’Brian applied to Nelson’s navy. He has the touch of an exceptionally gifted story-teller drawing on prodigious learning'
Tim Severin, author of the Viking Trilogy

About the Author

Dr Harry Sidebottom teaches classical history at the University of Oxford, where he is a Fellow of St Benet’s Hall and a lecturer at Lincoln College.

He has an international reputation as a scholar, having published widely on ancient warfare, classical art and the cultural history of the Roman Empire.

Iron & Rust is the first book in a major new series, Throne of the Caesars, and follows his acclaimed and bestselling series, Warrior of Rome. He divides his time between Oxford and Newmarket in Suffolk, where he lives which his wife and two sons.


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a superb gem from Harry Sidebottom, the author of the Ballista series and a professor of history at Oxford. It takes place some twenty years before “Fire in the East”, which was published in 2008, and is a prequel of sorts, although you can perfectly well read “Iron and Rust” - a quotation from Cassius Dio about the hard times that the Roman Empire was experiencing - without having read any of the author’s other books.

Although there are a few similarities with Sidebottom’s other books, this one also stands out as very different, to the extent that some other reviewers seem to have been surprised, dismayed, and perhaps even a little disappointed.

The first similarity is of course the period chosen by the author, the so-called and mostly little known “Crisis of the Third Century” (sometimes also termed “Military anarchy”), which started in AD 235 and is traditionally ended some fifty years later with the beginning of the reign of Diocletian. This happens to be the author’s “special” period and, once again, he shows to what extent he knows it like the back of his hand.

The specific period chosen for this novel (AD 235 to AD 238) is also original, and even less known than the Sassanid attacks and invasions that were the main feature of the first three books in the previous series featuring “Ballista/Dernhelm”. It shows the beginnings of this progressive descent into chaos, starting with the vivid murder of the last Emperor claiming to be of the line of Septimius Severus (Severus Alexander) and of his power hungry mother, and followed by the major part of the reign of Maximinus, the first of what some historians have called the “soldier-emperors.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kate TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
The murder of Roman emperor Alexander Severus in the spring of AD 235 heralded an age of iron and rust. The triumphs of Republic and Empire were trodden underfoot by a succession of usurpers, traitors, killers, who conspired to seize the teetering throne for themselves. The first of these was Maximinus, a mere soldier of equestrian rank, whose men cut down the young (but hardly a saint) Alexander alongside the mother whose skirts he clutched.

Maximinus, an ugly ogre of a man, tells himself that he never wanted to be emperor, all he wanted to do was to crush rebellion out of the northern tribes. He has never been unfaithful to his beloved wife Paulina, he indulges his son, ignoring his venal sins, and he wants Rome's senators to put aside their self-interest and instead do good service to Rome, raise money for his armies, support his fight, glorify its military might. That might be how Maximinus sees himself but it's unlikely there was a soul in Rome who thought likewise. It is only a matter of time.

This, then, is how Iron and Rust begins, the start of a new series by Harry Sidebottom, the beginning of a new phase of Roman history to tell. Iron and Rust covers the period between March 235 AD and March 238 AD, its story told through the perspectives of a number of key men (and one woman) positioned around the Empire who had a role to play in the conspiracies that shaped Rome for approximately fifty years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fortuna on 21 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover
The perfect companion to this excellent work is the Roma Victrix wine beakerCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Once again Harry Sidebottom delivers with this superb pre-equal series (Throne of the Caesars) to the excellent Warrior of Rome series.

The narrative takes place some 20 years before that of Sidebottom's excellent Fire in the East, when the Severan dynasty suddenly and violently is terminated with the assassination of Alexander Severus.

His death was the pivotal event beginning the troubled Crisis of the Third Century where a succession of short-reigning military emperors, revolting generals, and counter claimants presided over governmental chaos, civil war, general instability, barbarian incursions, and great economic disruption. He was succeeded by Maximinus Thrax, the principal protagonist in this new series.

Enough has been said on the narrative by previous reviewers, therefore as far as I am concerned this latest offering by the author is in keeping with the high standard of his previous works, with his usual in-depth attention to historical detail, combined with political intrigue, gritty battle scenes, and a compelling exciting prose throughout. Highly recommended.
The perfect companion to this excellent work is the Roma Victrix wine beakerCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roger M. Kean on 10 Jun 2014
Format: Hardcover
Sidebottom is the master of the Roman empire in the third century. He may well have taken Ballista as far as sensible in the Warrior of Rome series (though don't take that as read!) and many might assume he would turn to fresh pastures, but Iron and Rust goes back to a point earlier than Ballista's first outing in Fire in the East, to the moment in time when the Roman empire fell apart with the murder of the last legitimate Severan emperor, Severus Alexander.

In a series of short, sharp chapters, Iron and Rust lays out the conflicting ambitions of Maximinus Thrax—arguably Rome's first barbarian ruler—the numerous conspirators he executed, and the future contenders for the throne. The chapters switch between four main locations (and several points of view): the Rhine-Danube frontier; the east facing destruction at the hands of the newly risen Sassanids; Rome, where the senatorial figures of Pupienus and Balbinus wait in the wings; and Africa where the two Gordiani wait for their inevitable doom. The way in which Sidebottom skilfully interweaves all the characters makes this a page-turning accomplishment, and brings to life men and women who in many cases only rate a footnote in the official histories. As usual in his work, Sidebottom never has wholly bad or entirely good characters, and this even-handedness rings as being true to life, and the disconnect between what one feels about him or herself and what others perceive is always a treat.

It's a fine novel and a great start to one of Rome's least known and understood period, yet one of the most fascinating.
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