“Fire in the East” by Harry Sidebottom. I am a big fan of historical novels, I think I have read over 100 of them and am constantly looking for new authors to explore. I read “Fire in the East” about two years ago and forgot about it ,but after reading just a few pages, the story sounded very familiar but I read it again anyway.
To me this book has two parts.
Part A is slow and boring (worst the second time around), it is hard to get thru it. Marcus Clodius Ballista a Roman commander is sent to defend the town of Arete located in the most East borders of the Roman Empire. There is just nothing going on in this book, he travels, he gets there, he is preparing the town for the siege. There are so many characters that it is hard to remember who is who, and there are long boring description. I also did not like the language it sounded artificial to me.
Part B- the moments before and the actual battle. This is the point of the book where it starts to move. I enjoyed all the main characters and their roles in the battle, I liked the military actions and the way Ballista was described as a leader who had to make decisions in spite of his personal feelings and insecurities. I enjoyed the friendships and loyalties being put to test during the war, I even liked the “romantic twist” that has a very different flavor than most ( not to write any spoilers, but as a guy you have to admire Ballista’s restrains and family values).
I liked the book enough that I will read the second part soon.
“Lion of the Sun” is the third book of the Warrior of the Rome series by Harry Sidebottom and it was the worst book of the series so far. Really boring, I read the first two and was mildly entertained, so I wanted to read the “Lion of the Sun”. The way how book #2 ended it left me guessing what would happen next.
As in the previous books, Ballista and his crew battle the enemies for the empire (but it is hard to figure out who is the enemy of whom , the characters are switching sides and alliances from page to page). Ballista must serve the family of Macrianus the Lame (who he hates) to protect his own family. This book feels to me like a separate story it is vaguely connected. It still has some good battles, ( I think Sidebottom does a good job describing the fight scenes), has some funny moments, and good historical facts, but overall I had hard time staying with the story. The long, boring narratives, rumbling about non important issues made the book challenging to read.
I will check the next book in the series and hope it will get better.