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Publisher's Summary

A.D. 255. The Roman imperium is stretched to the breaking point, its authority and might challenged throughout the territories and along every border. One man is sent to marshal the defenses of a lonely city and to shore up the crumbling walls of a once indomitable symbol of Roman power, a man whose very name means war: a man called Ballista. So unfolds an epic drama - a story of empire, heroes, treachery, courage, and most of all, of brutal, bloody warfare.
The spectacular flair for explosive action and depth of literary and geographic knowledge, as well as the psychological complexity of the characters, makes Fire in the East the most authoritative historical adventure novel this year.
©2008 Harry Sidebottom (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Sidebottom's prose blazes with searing scholarship." ( The Times, London)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Cisco Rivera on 03-03-14

Was a Bit Sharpe-ish

I am big fan of military history based fiction, mostly in Medieval to the 1800's, therefore I was more than happy to try a new author and a new era. To start the equipment, army organization, and location settings/descriptions were well executed, but good descriptions are not enough alone. I have listened to most of Bernard Cornwell’s books, and noticed striking similarities to those stories and this one. An example is a bit on the nose, but the main character is from an area/class seen as inferior, somehow rises to command, and is resented for these things. I know this is not unique to Cornwell’s novels, however this story line is no longer original and cliché for this genre. The second, a bit less obvious is the Hibernian (Irish) sidekick devoted to the main character, much Harper like in the Sharpe’s series. Those are just a few, however having realized the similarities really took me out of the story. The story line was weak, unoriginal, and poorly executed. The main character commits a major crime in the start of the book, but the author never gives a reason why. Instead the author tries to convince us the character is honorable and not one to sway from his principles. The author also uses cheap tricks to try and awe the readers. I am no prude, but there was an overly graphic sex scene that did not move the story forward. It was if the author was trying to use the shock of the scene to convince the reader of the grittiness of the story. I have no desire to continue with the series and would not recommend it when there are other superior works that have the same storyline.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Steve on 10-11-11

As good as historical fiction gets...

How lucky I was to stumble across this little gem of a series. Harry Sidebottom takes us to the Roman Empire, c. 260 AD, a time period (235-280 AD) where 25 emperors reigned and the Empire was wracked with rebellion and invasion. Roman commander Ballista is tasked with defending one of the Empire's easternmost outposts against the Sassanid Persians. Unfortunately, due to the state of the Empire, Ballista must also deal with rampant intrigue in the Roman upper ranks.

Mr. Sidebottom has a knack for describing in vivid detail the brutality, violence, and excess of the late Roman period - a time of "iron and rust" as he describes it in the third book of this series. Stefan Rudnicki's narration was also excellent. I greatly enjoyed it and I highly recommend this and the others in the series.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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