Harry Sidebottom Books in Order (Warrior of Rome, Throne of the Caesars)

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Harry Sidebottom is a British historian who is known for writing historical novels. A Quondam Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford, and lecturer at Lincoln College, Harry Sidebottom is also writing non-fiction history books– and he appeared as a presenter on the History Channel’s Ancient Discoveries. Of course, Sidebottom is mostly known for his two series of historical novels the Warrior of Rome, and Throne of the Caesars.

How to read Harry Sidebottom’s Books in Order?

Warrior of Rome Books in Order (aka the Ballista series)

  1. Fire in the East (2008) – The year is AD 255. The Roman Imperium is stretched to breaking point, with its might and authority 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: Ballista.
  2. King of Kings (2009) – AD256. The spectre of treachery hangs ominously over the Roman Empire. The sparks of Christian fervour have spread through the empire like wildfire, and the imperium is alive with the machinations of dangerous and powerful men. All the while, Sassanid forces press forward relentlessly along the eastern frontier. When battle-bloodied general Ballista returns to the imperial court from the fallen city of Arete, he discovers that there are those who would rather see him dead than alive.
  3. Lion of the Sun (2010) – Mesopotamia, AD 260. Betrayed by his most trusted adviser, the Roman Emperor Valerian has been captured by the Sassanid barbarians. The shame of the vanquished beats down mercilessly like the white sun, as the frail old emperor prostrates himself before Shapur, King of Kings. Ballista vows to avenge those who have brought the empire to the brink of destruction with their treachery.
  1. The Caspian Gates (2011) – AD262 – the Imperium is in turmoil after the struggle for the throne. Furthermore, Ephesus, Asia’s metropolis, lies in ruins, shattered by a mighty earthquake. Its citizens live in fear as the mob overwhelms the city, baying for blood to avenge the gods who have punished them. Yet an even greater threat to the Empire advances from the North. The barbaric Goth tribes sail towards Ephesus, determined to pillage the city. Only Ballista knows the ways of the barbarians, and only he can defeat them.
  2. The Wolves of the North (2012) – AD263 – barbarian invasions and violent uprisings threaten to tear apart the Imperium of Rome. In the north, the tribes are increasingly bold in their raids on the Imperium – their savagery unlike anything Rome has known before. Ballista must undertake his most treacherous journey yet – a covert attempt to turn the barbarians of the steppe against each other. He must face the Heruli – the most bizarre and brutal of all the nomad tribes – the Eaters of Flesh, the Wolves of the North. As Ballista and his retinue make their journey, someone – or something – is hunting them, picking them off one by one, and leaving a trail of terror and mutilated corpses.
  3. The Amber Road (2013) – AD 264 – The Roman Empire is torn in two. The western provinces – Gaul, Spain and Britain – have been seized by the pretender Postumus. To the east, on the plains of northern Italy, the armies of the emperor Gallienus muster. War is coming. Everyone must choose a side. On a mission shrouded in secrecy and suspicion, Ballista must journey The Amber Road to the far north to Hyperborea, back to his original home and the people of his birth.
  1. The Last Hour (2018) – A lone figure stands silhouetted atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Behind him, the sun is setting over the centre of the known world. Far below, the river is in full flood. The City of Rome lies spread out before him on the far bank. Footsteps pound up the stairs. He’s been set up. An enemy is closing in; he is cornered. He jumps. Bruised and battered, he crawls out of the raging river. He is alone and unarmed, without money or friends, trapped in a deadly conspiracy at the heart of the empire. The City Watch has orders to take him alive; other, more sinister, forces want him dead. As the day dies, he realises he has only 24 hours to expose the conspirators and save the leader of the world. If the Emperor dies, chaos and violence will ensue. If the Emperor dies, every single person he loves will die.
  2. The Burning Road (2021) – AD265 – Sicily, Ancient Rome: In the shadow of Mount Etna, slaves are rising up. As the rebel leader declares Sicily the new land of the free, men and women are slaughtered, and cities across the island are sacked and burned. When a ship is wrecked off the island’s west coast, all but two survivors are cut down in the surf by the rebel slaves. Ballista has always found a way to survive against the odds – but his son Marcus is still just a boy. With the burning road stretching out ahead of them, father and son must cross the war-ravaged island in a race against time to save the rest of his family, and somehow find a way to extinguish the brutal rebellion, before it all goes up in flames.
  3. Falling Sky (2022) – AD 265, Gaul – The Roman Empire is on the brink. Emperor Gallienus has amassed a huge army across the Alps to seize back the mountains from the usurper Postumus. War has come. Ballista and his cavalry are on the frontline, battling in the most brutal of conditions. But if he is to survive the campaign and finally retire to his beloved Sicily, it’s not just the battlefield he needs to navigate.

Throne of the Caesars Books in Order

This series is set 30 years before the first Warrior of Rome book in the reigns of Severus Alexander and Maximinus Thrax (AD 235–38).

  1. Iron & Rust (2014) – Spring AD235. Dawn on the Rhine. A surprise attack and the brutal murder of the Emperor Alexander and his mother ends the Severan dynasty and shatters four decades of Roman certainty. Military hero Maximinus Thrax is the first Caesar risen from the barracks. A simple man of steel and violence, he will fight for Rome. The Senators praise the new Emperor with elaborate oratory, but will any of them accept a Caesar who was once a shepherd boy? And in the streets of the eternal city, others merely pray to escape imperial notice.
  2. Silence & Lies (Short Story, 2015)
  3. Blood & Steel (2015) – Rome, AD238. In Africa, Gordian the Elder and Younger are proclaimed as the new Augusti. A family descending from the imperial bloodline, they represent a chance for the establishment to take back the empire. In Rome, the first blood of the revolt is shed when an assassin murders Maximinus’ prefect and announces to Rome that their ruler is dead and the Gordians have taken the throne. Still bitter at having a soldier from the barracks wearing the imperial purple, the Senate endorses the rebellion: the Gordiani are hailed as Emperors.
  4. Shadow & Dust (Short Story, 2015)
  5. Fire & Sword (2016) – Rome AD238. The Year of the Six Emperors. The empire is in turmoil. With the Gordiani, father and son, dead in Africa, the tyrant Maximinus Thrax vies to reclaim the throne. The Senate, who supported the revolt of the Gordiani, must act quickly to avoid the vengeance of Maximinus. They elect two Senators to share the imperial purple. But fighting erupts in the streets as ambitious men call for violent revolution. Can the new Augusti hold the city together as the empire’s farthest territories fight off bloody attacks from the Goths and the Persians in the east?
  6. Smoke & Mirrors (Short Story, 2016)

Stand-alone fiction novels by Harry Sidebottom

  • The Lost Ten (2019) – No man who enters the Castle of Silence ever walks out alive. A remote fortress prison set high in the mountains, escape is impossible – and to break someone out, unthinkable. But this is exactly what Roman officer Marcus Aelius Valens must do. Tasked with rescuing the young Prince Sasan, Valens leads a small, elite squad of soldiers across Mesopotamia and into the mountains south of the Caspian Sea. As they journey deeper into enemy territory, the ten begin to die or disappear, one by one. And with the rescue fast becoming a suicide mission, Valens must marshal this disparate group of men – or suffer the same fate as all those who have made the journey before him…
  • The Return (2020) – 145BC – Calabria, Ancient Rome. After many years of spilling blood for Rome, Gaius Furius Paullus has returned home to spend his remaining days working quietly on the family farm. But it seems death has followed Paullus from the battlefield. Just days after his arrival, bodies start appearing – murdered and mutilated. And as the killings continue, and panic spreads, the war hero becomes the prime suspect. After all, Paullus has butchered countless enemies on the battlefield – could he have brought his habit home with him?
  • The Shadow King (2023) – 334 BC. Alexander the Great is just twenty-one years old when he sets out with a small army to challenge Persia, the largest and most powerful empire in the world. Together, his Macedonian army marches East into the unknown – winning battles against overwhelming odds, storming impregnable fortresses from the Aegean through to India.But there is another Alexander. Prince of the Macedonian royal house of Lyncestis, he becomes Alexander the Great’s general and most trusted friend. Alexander of Lyncestis is torn: between this friendship and the duty to avenge his murdered brothers. And he is under threat, too. Others – Persians, Greeks, Macedonians – see him as a rival for the throne. For six years of conspiracy and battle, his life hangs by a thread. For Alexander of Lyncestis is the Shadow King.

Non-fiction by Harry Sidebottom

  • Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction (2004) – Greek and Roman warfare was unlike that of any other culture before or since. The key difference is often held to be that the Greeks and Romans practiced a “Western Way of War,” in which the aim is an open, decisive battle–won by courage instilled, in part, by discipline. Here, Harry Sidebottom looks at how this Western Way of War was constructed and maintained by the Greeks and Romans and why this concept is so prevalent today.
  • International Relations, The Cambridge Companion of Greek and Roman Warfare (2007)
  • Blackwell Encyclopedia of Ancient Battles (2017)
  • The Mad Emperor (2022) – Varius Avitus Bassianus, known to the modern world as Heliogabalus, was proclaimed emperor. The next four years were to be the strangest in the history of the empire. Heliogabalus humiliated the prestigious Senators and threw extravagant dinner parties for lower-class friends. He ousted Jupiter from his summit among the gods and replaced him with Elagabal. He married a Vestal Virgin – twice. Rumours abounded that he was a prostitute. In the first biography of Heliogabalus in over half a century, Harry Sidebottom unveils the high drama of sex, religion, power and culture in Ancient Rome as we’ve never seen it before.

If you like this Harry Sidebottom reading order, you should take a look at our guide to Simon Scarrow’s novels, Conn Iggulden’s, or Bernard Cornwell’s.

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