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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better...
This is volume 5 of the adventures of Ballista (or Dernhelm), the son of an Angle warlord in Germania who grew up as a hostage of the Romans, was brought up at the imperial court and became a Roman general specialized in siege warfare. In this volume, after having been sent on a dangerous mission in the Caucasus, he is now sent with his "familia" on another dangerous...
Published on 11 July 2012 by JPS

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Allusionist
As a title for this review I thought `There and (almost) back again' might fit, as it appeared to sum up the plot pretty well and cast a knowing reference to all those Germanic poems and mentions of middle-earth by Ballista and his friends.

Then I toyed with `The Horror! The Horror!' where Hippothous quotes Conrad's Kurtz with reference to one of the book's...
Published 19 months ago by J.K. Currie


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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better..., 11 July 2012
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
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This is volume 5 of the adventures of Ballista (or Dernhelm), the son of an Angle warlord in Germania who grew up as a hostage of the Romans, was brought up at the imperial court and became a Roman general specialized in siege warfare. In this volume, after having been sent on a dangerous mission in the Caucasus, he is now sent with his "familia" on another dangerous mission to the Goths and Heruls living North of the Black Sea.

Apart from Harry Sidebottom's usual research, description of characters and writing style - all excellent - this book has quite a few other things going for it. The other strong point, of course, is that, as in his four previous books, and as another reviewer has mentioned already, the author makes you learn a lot in a rather entertaining way. However, none of these points are specific to this book. There are generic and can apply just as well to any of his four previous books.

The same reviewer thought it useful to warn readers against potential criticism that this book might seem slow paced at time. It does seem slow, at one point, but, far from being a criticism, this is perfectly suitable and it even seems to be deliberate since it conveys very well the impression of an endless trek as the embassy crosses the steppe and seeks to reach the Heruls' camp.

Another point is Sidebottom's choice of the Heruls, of which we know very little, and what we know mainly comes from Procopius writing almost 300 years after the time when the book's story is supposed to take place. This, of course, allows the author more room for invention. To my limited knowledge at last, there is nothing in the sources stating the Heruls practiced cranial deformation (unlike the Burgonds, who did, at least for their nobles) and Heruls were Germanic and not Huns, although their description seems to match the latter in some aspects, but then there is nothing that explicitly excludes it, so why not?

Other bits are fascinating since they offer a glimpse of steppe politics: how Rome (and then Byzantium) strived to keep the various tribes fighting each other and tried to avoid having any confederation becoming too powerful through bribes and alliances. It also gives a rather vivid description of what a steppe cavalry battle could have looked like and felt. Then there is another interesting twist in the story: among the embassy, there happens to be a psychopath that would nowadays qualify as a serial killer so that this book, in addition to being a historical novel, will also have you trying to guess "who dune it" (by the way, there are plenty of "red herrings" and I got it wrong!).

There is one thing, however, that makes this book worth a strong four stars rather than five: it does not stand alone very well. Although, to be fair, there is quite a few explanations as to who the main characters are and what has happened in previous episodes, it is definitely preferable to read the five books one after the other.

Anyway, I much preferred this one (I found Caspian Gates a bit "tepid"). It also seems that Harry Sidebottom has decided to treat us to a tour of the Roman Empire's neighbors and borders in the 3rd century AD since book 6 will be called the Amber Road, coming after the Persians, the Caucasus, the Goths and the nomads North of the Black Sea. Another treat in preparation...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 13 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome 5) (Paperback)
The perfect gift for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
The fifth in the series Wolves of the north finds Ballista and his familia sent on a diplomatic mission to the Heruli (an east Germanic tribe living around the Black sea. Mission to turn the Heruli against there neighbours which will forestall an invasion of the Imperium. After a slow start the author gets into his stride and then the action really picks up. All in all Harry Sidebottom has penned an exciting narrative with historical fact and fiction expertly interwoven, gritty action, three dimensional Characters, Highly recommended.
For those who would like further information on this epoch I highly recommend the OSPREY Campaign, Warrior, and men at arms booklets, with great overviews, excellent illustrations, and highly detailed maps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read: very enjoyable, 19 May 2014
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Michael Hermin (Co. Armagh) - See all my reviews
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Very well paced booked with plenty of intrigue. Would recommend if your seeking an alternative author to the Roman historical fiction publications.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal, but good read., 19 May 2014
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Well up to the standard of the other books within the series. Knowledge of warfare of the Roman period very impressive.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most complex and intricate story so far and the best., 4 July 2012
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Review:
As with all of Harry's books I expect that some will call the book slow, over detailed etc. But that's just not the case.

Harry's books and this one in particular are wonderfully written, he has an eloquent way of weaving the descriptive with the action. Like the history teacher everyone wants, you learn while you are entertained.

There are I'm sure a couple of readers out there who will once again claim to know more than the author about history but because there are always times that a fictional author must bend the facts and timeframe to fit the plot and its pace they need to get over that. Any changes are well explained as usual and all done with the very best of intentions to keep the latest story on plot and pace.

As usual our hero Ballista isn't just a 2D character, I always found him to be well rounded and by book five he is a living breathing hero, the good the bad, the imperfect, the stress and strain of position and command, all witten to give you fully rounded REAL person, with a supporting cast just as well written. I personally found even more realism with book five because of the chaotic swirl of the barbarian world clashing with the civilised order that was Rome.
Add a large dose of intrigue that usually accompanies the corrupt world of Rome and all its dealings, both from a family level through to movers and shakers in power. Ballista a Roman by accident / circumstance and deep down a barbarian at heart. This really does make for the most complex and intricate story so far and the best.

Highly recommended
(Parm)

Product Description
In the fifth novel in Harry Sidebottom's acclaimed and bestselling Warrior of Rome historical fiction series, Ballista returns in Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North to undertake yet another epic mission - while the Roman Empire reels in chaos around him.
AD 263 - the Roman Empire is close to turmoil, violent uprising threatening to shatter the fragile balance of power.
In the north, the tribes are increasingly bold in their raids on the Imperium - their savagery unlike anything Rome has known before. Ballista must undertake his most treacherous journey yet - a covert attempt to turn the barbarians against each other. He must face the Heruli - the Eaters of Flesh, the Wolves of the North - the most brutal tribe of them all. As Ballista and his retinue make their journey, someone - or something - is hunting them, picking them off one by one, and leaving a trail of mutilated corpses and terror.
Ballista is in a strange land, among strange people, but is it possible that the greatest threat may come from within his own familia?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 Feb. 2015
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Up to Harry Sidebottom usual excellent standard in all departments.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Death on the steppe, 3 Aug. 2012
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Well here we are back for another adventure with Ballista et al! You just have to throw in a bit of latin when you talk Harry Sidebottem and that is the full extent of my vocabulary!

We find ourselves this time in the company of a psycho killer who has somehow inserted himself in the familia Ballista. Who is this seeming goodguy sneeking out into the night to play seven little indians (or should that now be native americans?)with the cast list? Not telling!

As if this wasn't enough to worry about, the out of favour Ballista has to come to terms with a curse put on him last time out, being sent to politik a bunch of Steppes nomads who were driven into the wilderness by his Grandad, and then getting sucked into a war that really shouldn't be any of his business.

Well there is enough story to think about. Was it any good? Yes it was. I felt it did, like last time out, shamble along a bit before it got going and became a story, and the distracting Mastabates was back, but Harry rarely disappoints and he does action as well most and character illustration better than many. So once we got out onto the steppe it was pretty gripping stuff as a tribe rather amusingly called the Alan's try and kill our old Hell's Angle Ballista.

The ending was not what I was expecting but frustratingly I can't talk about it without some fairly heavy weight spoiling. So I won't. If you haven't read Sidebottem's previous books you will struggle with much of the sub plots in this, if you have read them, you know they are at times laugh out loud funny(I will never put lol in a review of mine!) but tragic and moving in places too.

Good stuff Harry, we're nicely set up for the next episode.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read as with the rest of the series, 24 July 2012
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As a standalone book it would not get four stars but having read the previous books I found this one just as enthralling.For me, it was a little less educational than earlier books and there was a greater concentration on the human side of the characters Sidebottom has created. Hopefully the next installment will arrive sooner than this one did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Am still reading this book but so far it is ..., 16 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome 5) (Paperback)
Am still reading this book but so far it is brillant - yet again Harry Sidebottom has wrote another excellant book on the adventures of Ballista ....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars liking the story - based on a roman theme - ..., 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome 5) (Paperback)
liking the story - based on a roman theme - I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next book !!
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Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome 5)
Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome 5) by Harry Sidebottom (Paperback - 31 Jan. 2013)
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