Lion of the Sun is the third book in the Warrior of Rome series featuring Ballista. Historically accurate story of the battle for the Roman Empire.
In Warrior of Rome, Lion of the Sun Harry Sidebottom is his usual meticulous self in creating a detailed account of the late third century Roman Empire as its borders came under attack. Political intrigue and treachery compound the problem. Amongst all this Ballista has to escape from the captivity in which he was being held at the end of King of Kings.
Historical Accuracy from a Renowned Classical Scholar
It should be possible to rely on the historical accuracy as Harry Sidebottom teaches classical history at the University of Oxford. He is an internationally renowned scholar specialising in the Roman Empire especially ancient warfare, cultural history and classical art. All these factors form an important part of the highly developed background to the Lion of Sun.
For a novel of this type there is a wealth of detail but it does not become intrusive as it is well woven into the story line. The story is a good thriller that moves along quickly from scene to scene. Indeed it is very cinematic in its structure with episodes of the story set in various part of the Roman Empire.
Characters and Political Intrigue in Roman Empire
The human aspects of family and comradeship are well brought out. In Lion of the Sun these aspects play a much greater part in the story and provide a challenge to the main protagonist, Ballista. He is from the northern part of the empire and is regarded by high-born Romans as something of a “barbarian” despite his contribution to the military protection of the Roman Empire and the consequent high office.
Whilst Ballista still holds to some of the ways of his northern culture he is also well read and quotes the classical poets. He also uses military techniques and stratagems learned from the great classical historians. His weakness as an outsider is that he is not well attuned to the political nuances of the politics of Rome; for guidance on that he relies on friends but most particularly his wife, Julia. Julia is from a Patrician family and so has grown up with the politics and culture around the Senate and Emperor.
A Thrilling and Brutal Story of Bloody Battles
The political intrigue and cultural context is just a background to a series of battles to protect the integrity of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire is torn by political treachery and division; Ballista is fighting for its very survival. The future may depend on which way Odenathus, the Lion of the Sun of the story, turns and with whom he forms an alliance. An excellent continuation of the story from King of Kings.
The story bounds along and will be enjoyed by lovers of swashbuckling historical thrillers, or thrillers generally. Harry Sidebottom may be an academic and an historian but he is also an excellent story teller.
Historical and Academic References
As with all the other Warrior of Rome stories there is a comprehensive appendix providing notes on the historical sources which confirms Dr. Sidebottom’s commitment to historical accuracy.
Warrior of Rome, Lion of the Sun (2010, ISBN: 978-0-718-15332-8) by Harry Sidebottom is published in hardback by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin priced at £14.99