14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Caspian Gates (Warrior of Rome 4) (Hardcover)The fourth Warrior of Rome novel begins with a bang as Ephesus is struck by a mighty earthquake. Not long after the Goths invade and Ballista is involved in the defence of a number of nearby poorly prepared cities. Yet Ballista's past is swift to catch up with him and his new Imperial Mandata sends him to the very edge of the Empire. Confronted with barbarian hordes, a rotten royal family and complex tribal politics, life for Ballista in the fourth book is quite eventful.
As ever the book oozes with detail, historical intricacies and subtle semantics. Yet I found the fourth book to be somewhat slower paced than the previous three. That was probably because the overall theme of the fourth book could be summed up as `travel'. Ballista spends an awful long time travelling to one of the furthest reaches of the Empire. It was therefore necessary for the author to fully describe Ballista's journey in order to give the reader a sense of the scale and monotony that Ballista endured. That being said, the travel passages are beautifully described, you really feel like you are stood on deck with the rest of the familia. In addition, these important plot building passages are not devoid of the occasional action scene.
There are a couple of new characters within the fourth book which inject fresh energy and charisma. Yet all of the old favourites accompany Ballista on his journey. It enabled that sense of family and camaraderie to flourish within the fourth book as it has done in the past three. I love the fact that the author takes his time to build his characters throughout the books. It's such a great and simple technique which allows the reader to remain engaged with the characters as the series progresses. By learning more about a character slowly, relationships strengthen and that shared sense of experience endures throughout each new book. Great stuff!
I think for me, Harry Sidebottom's unique selling point is his craftsmanship and the way his books are immersed in authenticity. Don't expect a simple read with this author and you won't be disappointed. Instead, allow yourself the time to fully enjoy this beautifully written Roman novel which really is head and shoulders above other Roman contenders. I think you'll find the descriptive prose some of the author's finest work in his fourth book.
The fourth book creates a fantastic foundation on which the fifth can be built. The end of the book was for me, one of the very best endings to a historical novel that I have yet read. Completely chilling, but very simple! I'll say no more.
Thoroughly recommended and thoroughly enjoyed by this reviewer!