Fire in the East (Warrior of Rome: Part 1) Review

Warrior of Rome

Author and Genre

Harry Sidebottom (find his Goodreads profile here) is a lecturer in Ancient History at the universities of Oxford and Warwick. Clearly, he is someone who knows the histories of Ancient Rome and Greece back to front.

Fire in the East is historical fiction, unsurprisingly, set in the Ancient Roman Empire.


Here is the full blurb:

“The year is AD 255 – the Roman Imperium is stretched to breaking point, its authority and might challenged along every border. The greatest threat lies in Persia to the east, where the massing forces of the Sassanid Empire loom with fiery menace. There the isolated Roman citadel of Arete awaits inevitable invasion.

One man is sent to marshal the defences and shore up crumbling walls. A man whose name itself means war: a man called Ballista. Alone, Ballista is called to muster the forces and the courage to stand first and to stand hard against the greatest enemy ever to confront the Imperium.

This is part one of Warrior of Rome: an epic of empire, of heroes, of treachery, of courage, and most of all, a story of brutal bloody warfare.

Dr Harry Sidebottom is a leading authority on ancient warfare – he applies his knowledge with a spectacular flair for sheer explosive action and knuckle-whitening drama. Fans of Bernard Cornwell will love Sidebottom’s recreation of the ancient world.”


Our protagonist is Ballista, a barbarian from the north who has been caught up fighting on behalf of the Roman Empire in its wars due to international and imperial political maneuvering.

Should You Read It?

Sidebottom’s Warrior of Rome series is slightly unusual in that it focuses on the later Roman Empire, the less-known era of imperial decline.

Owing to his expertise in Ancient History, the author is able to produce historical fiction which is accurate to the smallest detail. He creates a world which is realistic, helping the reader to become immersed in the ancient setting.

His prose is also gripping and the plot will keep you hooked up until the final pages. One drawback is that I would describe this novel as “male historical fiction”. While I’m sure it appeals to female readers as well, it is the type of story which would typically be read by a predominantly male audience.


Fire in the East is available on Amazon here.

You can find another historical fiction review here.

To find out more about my historical novel, click here.

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