December 28, 2013

Book Review - The Caspian Gates by Harry Sidebottom

The next installment of The Warrior of Rome story is packed full of battles, adventure and travel as Ballista and his familia experience an earthquake in Ephesus and then head for the Caucausus Mountains to rebuild the Caspian Gates, a barrier to hold the mountain passes against the marauding Alani barbarians. The author teaches classical history at Oxford University and is well versed in the period detail. More importantly, he tells a rollicking good yarn. His warriors are men who fight and kill and face death. They live with honour according to their various gods and customs. Ballista is a northerner of Germanic origin, taken as a hostage as a boy and now a veteran soldier of Rome, whose fate is unfortunately as often decided by the labyrinthine politics of the region as by his skill in fighting battles. The complicated Roman social and political structure is explained enough to let you concentrate on the fighting, the drinking and the sex, with the odd bit of philosophy thrown in. The meditations on being exiled are pertinent and thought provoking. A complete escape from the modern world and well worth a visit. Wendy

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