Great to see Harry Sidebottom’s first ‘Warrior of Rome’ book up in the bestsellers lists. All the people who got hold of signed first editions last summer at Heffers should be rubbing their hands with glee…
For those who don’t know, ‘Fire in the East’ is a military adventure featuring Ballista, a Roman officer who’s risen through the ranks of ‘expendable barbarians’. He’s sent to the Eastern fringes of the Empire on a risky mission which is both ill-conceived and under-resourced in every area – except one. Unknown to him, Rome has sent him an abundant supply of spies and informers.
There’s a strong whiff of authenticity about this novel, which is hardly surprising since the author is a ‘real’ specialist in ancient warfare based in Oxford. (I was about to retype that sentence to make it clear that it’s the specialism that’s based in Oxford, not the warfare, but in the light of the recent hoo-hah about the Poetry chair, I’ve decided to let it stand.)
Modesty should forbid me to mention that Harry Sidebottom also has very fine tastes in fiction, but modesty is not a quality much prized in publishers’ marketing departments, so his views on Ruso can be found here under ‘Book 2′.