Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's no pace like Rome, 21 July 2011
This review is from: The Caspian Gates (Warrior of Rome 4) (Hardcover)
Surely it'd be puerile to point out that Harry Sidebottom's Roman adventure features a character called Mastabates? Not that it seems in any way awkward in his latest work, a book that stands out for its earthy, army dialogue, something the very learned Mr S has really got the hang of, though I'm sure he doesn't use it in his university lectures.

His Warrior of Rome series, following the battles of the rugged Ballista both on and off the bloody pitch, form a body of man-reading girlies would struggle to understand. There's history and detail to satisfy the keenest speccy-wearing buff, of course. But there's also blood'n'guts a-plenty to feed those primal urges.

In The Caspian Gates all of this is coming at you from the off, with the delightful Goths giving our civilised heroes headaches of a viciously literal kind. Ballista has to face these murderous bastards, as well as deal with plots and intrigues, but manages to keep a manly hold even when the fan's clogged with the sticky stuff. The tale takes us over land and sea with a pace that switches from brisk to high heart-rate quickly and often enough to make you glad you fitted low-energy lightbulbs.

If there's a fault in the book it's, well, arguably not a fault: It's just that sometimes I was getting a shade too much Latin detail in places, stuff I didn't really need to enjoy the story. It can sometimes act as a bit of a sea anchor on yarns this exciting.

That said, I think Harry's cut from the same cloth as Conn Iggulden, up there with the best of them. Certainly his word-smithery is on a par, and Warrior of Rome is at least the equal of the Emperor series, in my view. I've tucked first editions of both into my collection. Between Conn and Harry a man can head off to the fictional wars of history and never have to come home. Or want to, for that matter.

The Caspian Gates is a winner, like all the best heroes!
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