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Warrior of Rome I: Fire in the East Paperback – 1 Apr 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Warrior of Rome I: Fire in the East
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  • Warrior of Rome, Part 2: King of Kings
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  • Warrior of Rome III: Lion of the Sun
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; paperback / softback edition (1 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141032294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141032290
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

A well-constructed, well-paced and gripping account -- Times Literary Supplement

An exceptionally gifted storyteller -- Tim Severin

Harry Sidebottom's epic tale starts with a chilling assassination and goes on, and up, from there
-- Professor Mary Beard, Chair of Classics, University of Oxford

Sidebottom's prose blazes with searing scholarship -- The Times

The best sort of red-blooded historical fiction -- Andrew Taylor

`A well-constructed, well-paced and gripping account' -- Times Literary Supplement

`Harry Sidebottom's epic tale starts with a chilling assassination and goes on, and up, from there' -- Professor Mary Beard, Chair of Classics, University of Cambridge

`I don't think I've ever experienced antiquity so directly: the brutality, the directness of expression and feeling, the deep bonds formed amid unmitigated violence' -- Professor David Konstan, Professor of Classics, Brown University

`It's the best sort of red-blooded historical fiction - solidly based on a profound understanding of what it meant to be alive in a particular time and place'
-- Andrew Taylor, Author of THE AMERICAN BOY

`Sidebottom's prose blazes with searing scholarship' -- The Times

Review

`A well-constructed, well-paced and gripping account'

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For a novel about the Roman world to succeed, in my opinion, it needs to combine historical accuracy, authority even, with an immediacy that snaps me out of the 21st century. I need to believe that the lives and events I am reading about could have existed, even if I know that they didn't. It needn't take much to throw a reader out of a historical novel but when the author is Harry Sidebottom the reader - and the characters- are in safe hands.

Harry Sidebottom is a Lecturer of Ancient History at the University of Oxford. By definition, that should mean that he knows his stuff. And indeed he does but it's the way that he carries this expertise that makes his Warrior of Rome series (or at least the quarter of it that I've read) so believable and readable. It helps, of course, that the series takes place during a difficult time in Roman history, the troubled third century, when more than one emperor was attempting to hold sway at the same time. The action also takes place in the mysterious east, in Syria, on the edges of the retreating empire. On both counts, Fire in the East is different from many other Roman military novels.

Fire in the East introduces us to Ballista, the long-haired barbarian from the north, an Angle, who has risen from dubious origins (to say the least) to be a commander of the Roman army. His mission is to fortify the city of Arete in Syria and hold it against the Persian King of Kings at all cost. Ballista has to dig in, win the favour of the mixed community within the city, and use all his wit, guile and courage to protect Arete from the thousands of soldiers and hoards camped around the city's walls.

With Ballista is his familia, gathered from across the empire, including Greeks and Spaniards.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Feels so authentic and very well written. I accidentally started in the middle of this series, but enjoyed the book so much I had to go back to the beginning. I love how well rounded the characters are and that you find yourself so drawn into their world that you begin to care about them and their lives. It is quite a brutal, no holds barred world, but if you can take the language and blood shed, there is quality story-telling in there as well
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Enjoyable story well written
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By Parm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Having taken a trawl through some of the reviews on here i am somewhat surprised at certain comments.
Ok the book is not an Iggulden, who lets face it is a natural fireside story teller, and he is not a Scarrow, who cuts straight to the action and delivers brilliantly real characters. But why do we want the same, surely we want something different, something new.
There seems to be a lot of Jump on the author for being an academic and oh no ...adding too much history to a historical fiction novel, now i for one don't want a text book when I'm reading fiction, if i want that i pick up a text book. But i want to be educated where possible, so bravo Mr Sidebottom, a book that entertains and educates, for me it was a real winner, one that i enjoyed.
Yes its a slow burner in comparison to others in the genre, but I'm happy with that and when i buy your future books (which i will be) then i will know to read them at a time that I'm in the mood for slow burn, great characters, great history, great plots, and well told tales.

Please keep it up and don't listen to those who say too much detail...just keep it tempered with the flowing blood and guts action. (Parm)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
good
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Format: Paperback
Within the genre of Historic Fiction there is a subgenre that is big enough in itself that you could probably read books within it all year round. That subgenre is Roman Historic Fiction and it is Legion. Harry Sidebottom is an established member of the Romanati and deservedly so. He combines the chop suey action of some of the populist books in the genre, with a healthy dollop of historic reality and research; some of it based on his own work. Over the years he has learned to blend the academic with the action, but in his debut; ‘Fire in the East’, the balance is just not right.

Sidebottom has seemingly chosen a less well known period of Roman history with AD255 and the defence of Arete. His hero is Ballista, a Roman by birth, but half-German and therefore untrusted by the more traditional full blooded Romans. He is tasked with defending a city against a vast Persian army.

As an author is seems that Sidebottom likes to show he knows his stuff, this means that the action is interspersed with observations of life at the time. This is a nice mood builder in the right dose, but ‘Fire’ has far too much. At times it feels like you are in a classical teaching class and not reading a book for your own enjoyment. This is a shame as when the action does hot up you have a gruesome, but fun book. It is only a shame that the end falls away a little leaving the door open for the sequel, but the reader feeling a little underwhelmed.
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Format: Paperback
Other comments on this book have suggested it stands out from the competition because it is set during the decline of Rome. For me it stands out because it moves away from the common soldier and lower ends of society which is the perspecive used in other novels of this kind. The hero is a German favourite of the Emperor who is tasked to lead the defence of a town on the border of Roman-Sassanid territory.

The book divides into 3 parts - the journey to Arete, the preparations for the seige, and the seige itself. The novel contains naval warfare, spies, assassins, and a few twists and turns as well. Some story threads are left, presumably to be concluded in later books.

If you enjoy the Scarrow series of 'Eagle' books, Iggulden, or Jackson's Caligula you will enjoy this.
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