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I have loved this series of novels. You really can't fault Dr. Sidebottom's depth of knowledge in this field and he shows that knowledge without pretence or condecension to his audience. That said I can't help but feel that this - and even the 5th book - were instalments too far and that the saga should have ended in the Caucasas or in a different manner entirely - perhaps Balista and familia could simply have gone home. There was a feelng of tieing up loose ends here when such neat finishing hasn't been required previously. Still happy to have heard this instalment but not up to the standard of the first 4.
There's no denying it. Harry Sidebottom has to be one of the most knowledgeable of all the historical fiction authors and I definitely applaud his aim to both entertain and aloow for some education in the process. The depth of his knowledge shines through in all of the Ballista books and its a richly detailed world that his characters move through. That said, this book often felt more laboured than some of the earlier ones with for example regular lists of kingdoms and rulers that never played any real part in the book, seemingly only included to show that the research had been done.
The story is fine but I didn't find it as engaging as the other Ballista novels that I have read to date. (The books are designed to be read either stand alone or as an overall series). On top of that the ending seemed inconclusive to me. The good news is that Ballista, who really is a very strong character will live on in further novels, the not so good news is that, as I write, it looks likely we'll have to wait a couple of years before we see them emerge into the light of day.
To summarize this is not a bad book but it has its weak points. I would recommend the other Ballista novels as excellent stories to try first and then this one if you plan to continue following the adventures to come.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Too much metaphysics, making the story long winded. Not your usual brilliance Harry. Thanks Gil