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Lion Of The Sun (2010)

by Harry Sidebottom(Favorite Author)
3.96 of 5 Votes: 1
0718153324 (ISBN13: 9780718153328)
Michael Joseph
Warrior of Rome
review 1: I just love this series! Sidebottom is that rarest of things: a scholar who also can write compelling; complex characters and situations. I find his writing to be endlessly inventive and full of historical information.Harry Sidebottom captures the spirit of the erea, and gives endless detail in almost any setting he puts his characters into. Fascinating. In the historical afterword, Sidebottom lists Patrick O'Brian and JG Farrell as historical writers he has enjoyed. While Farrell is on my shelf (soon to be read), I loved Patrick O'Brian's nautical series and have held it as the standard to be met in modern historical fiction. I believe with "The Warrior of Rome" series, Harry Sidebottom is stepping into that exalted realm.
review 2: Lion of the Sun is th
... moree third of five (so-far) novels written by a historical scholar. The novels center around the character of Ballista. A warrior from the north of Europe, Ballista finds himself in the legions of Rome, serving under a succession of Emperors.It is a military tale for the most part--the descriptions of military equipment, strategy, and battle scenes, are so well done one can feel the dust under the horses' hooves, smell the sweat and the fear, taste the blood, and feel the awful adrenaline surge of the fight.Yet this is not a simple military legionary tale. Ballista is an interesting character, and the reader can feel his inner turmoil as he ponders being haunted by a vengeful ghost, worries about his family's safety, as he takes oaths he is not sure he can keep.While it is not always possible to start a book in the middle of its series, Lion of the Sun stands on its own. The reader can catch glimpses of Ballista's past (assumedly told well in the earlier two novels), and the book ends well enough, so while it is clear there are later books to come, this story satisfies.As the novel opens, Emperor Valerian has been captured by the Persian King. Ballista is stricken with guilt over his involvement in the death of a previous Emperor, Maximinus Thrax, and has to take great care as he tries to serve the usurper Macrianus, while protecting his wife and two sons. Ballista must navigate the dangerous waters of usurpers, treachery, and oaths taken under duress or under honor, while he fights in battle against Persians and occasionally other Romans. The novel's title refers to the historical character Odenathus of Palmyra, husband to Zenobia. For being the title character, Odenathus actually plays a very small, yet integral part. His presence is felt later on, as it is unknown whether he will support Macrianus, or the Emperor Gallienus, or strike out on his own. His eventual part in all the upheaval becomes clear, and there are hints of later events...well you might know something about that.Having read some of the scholarly works mentioned in the Afterword, it was an extreme pleasure to read the fictional fleshing-out of the people and events that sometimes feel "glossed-over" in the history books. There is a disappointment in the paltry use of Julia, Ballista's wife. She has sterling moments of her own, to be sure, but she provides next to nothing to Ballista's character. At least, not in this novel. That is a pity, as this detracts a bit from the otherwise full picture of Ballista as more than a stereotypical Roman soldier, manly man. Their scenes together feel almost stilted, as if she is there simply to assure he has a family.The disappointment however is not enough to prevent the reading of the next two books in the series. One is already out, the other is due out later in 2013. It might be fun to start at the beginning as well, and meet Ballista as a younger man, just starting out. less
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Really good book. Its an amazing view of ancient Roman battles.
Still enjoying the series.
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