Harry Sidebottom’s Warrior of Rome series is superior historical fiction, conspicuously well-written and exceptionally well-researched. I’ve loved all six novels in the series so far and this latest did not disappoint. In The Amber Road, the central character Ballista is sent on a political mission to his childhood home in northern Germania. Ballista is a younger son of an Angle warlord but his welcome is uncertain. A hostage in Rome in his teens, he has spent the 20 or so years since in Rome’s service as a senior military commander. Where do his loyalties lie? Which identity will prove stronger, the Romanized ‘Ballista’ or the Angle ‘Dernhelm’?
Ballista/Dernhelm and his companions are beset with physical dangers but for Ballista, perhaps the deadliest threats are embedded in unresolved family and intimate relationships from the past. Can he survive? Can he even see what’s staring straight at him?