“Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North” by Harry Sidebottom marks the start of a new trilogy within the “Warrior of Rome” series. AD263 – barbarian invasions and violent uprisings threaten to tear apart the Imperium of Rome. In the north, the tribes are increasingly bold in their raids on the Imperium – their savagery unlike anything Rome has known before. Ballista must undertake his most treacherous journey yet – a covert attempt to turn the barbarians of the steppe against each other. He must face the Heruli – the most bizarre and brutal of all the nomad tribes – the Eaters of Flesh, the Wolves of the North. As Ballista and his retinue make their journey, someone – or something – is hunting them, picking them off one by one, and leaving a trail of terror and mutilated corpses. Ballista is in a strange land, among strange people, but is it possible that the greatest threat may come from within his own familia?
It seems that donning The Purple, even for a very short time, and for very good reasons, has it’s drawbacks. Still under some suspicion, Ballista and his familia are sent on a perilous, almost hopeless mission to the tribes on the vast Steppe… a region Ballista has a few enemies just itching to get revenge…couple that with a psychopathic killer among the retinue, and oh yeah a wicked curse to boot. A page turner for certain, the tale is replete with the descriptive talent of the author, and his subtle(?) way of introducing his audience to the varied philosophical treatises of the time. The repartee between the members of the familia, the bonds forged over decades, these are the bits that drive the narrative. The unknown madman among them seeks to destroy those bonds. A masterful tale in a masterful series of tales, and there is more to come. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
AD 262 –the Roman Imperium is in turmoil after the struggle for the throne that brought Gallienus to power. And Ephesus, the metropolis of the Eastern Empire, lies in ruins, shattered by a mighty earthquake. Its citizens live in fear as the mob overwhelms the city, baying for blood to avenge the gods who have punished them. Yet an even greater threat to the Empire advances from the North: the barbaric Goth tribes, determined to pillage the city. Only Ballista, Warrior of Rome, knows the ways of the barbarians, and only he can defeat them. In a relentlessly gripping and richly authentic tale of ancient warfare, The Caspian Gates is an adventure for Rome enthusiasts and scholars alike.
Well, the rereading of the first 4 volumes of the Warrior of Rome series is complete, and I am looking forward to the next installment, The Wolves of the North. I have sort of glossed over much of what I usually cover in my book reviews during this reacquainting period, but I will say this. The author has unknowingly had me hearkening back to the early 70’s when I was an Ancient History student at Wayne State University. The inclusion of philosophical and mythological discussions spread throughout the narrative sparked some familiar memories. I find it to be a definite plus when the tale being told also has the possibility to enlighten, educate, edify…something that happens quite often in this series. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s Mesopotamia, AD 260. Betrayed by his most trusted adviser, the Roman Emperor Valerian has been captured by the Sassanid barbarians. The shame of the vanquished beats down mercilessly like the white sun, as the frail old emperor prostrates himself before Shapur, King of Kings. Ballista looks on helplessly, but vows under his breath to avenge those who have brought the empire to the brink of destruction with their treachery. One day, maybe not soon, but one day, I will kill you …But first he must decide what price he will pay for his own freedom. Only the fearless and only those whom the gods will spare from hell can now save the empire from a catastrophic ending. Ballista, the Warrior of Rome, faces his greatest challenge yet.
Another exhilarating episode … another drama packed tale … another seamless melding together of history and fiction … another reason to read the Warrior of Rome series.
5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I have known the author for a few years now. Well, I know him in the online sense of the word, and have enjoyed reading his books so much that I even used his name for a character in a book I wrote (and killed him off in a very dramatic fashion) 🙂 . It is a somewhat sad fact that often when an author has written a series that spans this many volumes, the content loses some of it’s vitality; it’s level of excellence begins to dwindle. It pains me to say this because it may cause Mr. Doherty’s head to swell to an uncomfortable size, but The Blood Road is in no way an example of lost vitality or excellence lost. In fact, I think this actually surpasses his other work, as hard as that it is to imagine.
The Gothic War comes to a head as peace offerings are sabotaged and the XI Claudia is in the thick of the action. So too are Emperor Gratian’s special hunter/killer squad of heavies. Gratian has a score to settle with our hero, Pavo, and will stop at nothing to have his revenge. The Blood Road, a mixture of political intrigue, war time maneuverings and battles, and legionary cohesiveness and loyalty, is a taut, thrilling ride taking the reader on unexpected treks and paths as Pavo and the XI Claudia struggle to survive the Goths and the Romans who seek to destroy them. A page turning delight awaits you, my peeps and fellow travelers, so sit back and enjoy a thrilling romp through the Thracian countryside. 5 stars
The Legionary series, has become one of my favorites over the years, and am happy to report that Empire of Shades carries on the tradition of crafty storytelling that we’ve grown to expect from Mr. Doherty. The masterful interweaving of the multiple plot lines throughout the tale are sure to keep the reader engaged and turning pages. Pavo and the rest of his gang are really put to the test in many ways and many times in this many layered thriller. Pavo reaches a new depth of character as he pursues a promise made to his friend and mentor, Gallus. He also finds love again and that experience leaves it’s mark. Set against the backdrop of Theodosius taking the mantle of Emperor of the East and the unsettling shenanigans of Gratian, the Emperor of the West, Mr. Doherty leads us on a brutal adventure during a time of great migrations and a changing world. 4.7 stars