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The Last Hour

(Warrior of Rome #7)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  72 reviews
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
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 8th 2018 by Zaffre
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Glyn You probably could read this as a stand alone thriller. It does work on that level as there are no major plot points that link back to the previous…moreYou probably could read this as a stand alone thriller. It does work on that level as there are no major plot points that link back to the previous books. I however do feel you gain a lot more if you have read at least one of the earlier ones just to get some idea of the characters involved and the motiviations that drive them. I would add that if you "know" the mid 3rd Century Collapse then you will get a bit out of it without having read the previous ones(less)

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Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews
I don’t know why this happens to me, but it seems to occur with much more frequency than in the past. I read a synopsis, fall for a book, then when I go to read it, the book is not what I expected. For whatever convoluted reason, I was expected The Last Hour to be a sort of homage to Colleen McCullough’s The First Man in Rome, a suspenseful, intricate mystery set in the streets of ancient Rome. What Harry Sidebottom delivered was something completely different.

If Marcus Clodius Ballista has a
Loved this! A Ballista novel that's very different from the others - this is a thriller set in the heart of ancient Rome over the course of one day. Tense, exciting and hugely informative (while always being entertaining) about life in this ancient city.

Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: readers-first
This book follows the story of Ballista. In short, he must get to the Emperor of Rome within the next 24 hours or they will both die.

The book starts off at a very fast pace. The chases and fight scenes are really exciting, and the writing in these parts of the book is very good.

I also enjoyed the historical setting of the book. I don't usually read much historical fiction so I was pleasantly surprised at the extra level this added to the story. I felt like I was learning something interesting
Roger Kean
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Harry Sidebottom makes no secret of his having wanted to write a non-stop action-thriller in the mode of Lee Child's Jack Reacher stories but encompassed in the tight 24-hour time-frame, and so like Jack Bauer we kick off atop Hadrian's Mausoleum with Marcus Clodius Ballista's unknown enemies hard on his heels, intent on his death. He has the rest of the night and the day ahead to prevent a dastardly conspiracy of murky characters from assassinating his childhood schoolfriend, the emperor ...more
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This latest Ballista novel is heads above the others in the series, especially the later ones. The first three I liked but the next I was so disappointed in, I didn'rt even read the last two. This one is a happy marriage between the thriller and the 3rd century historical fiction genres. I was enthralled all through from the very first pulse-pounding page to the last. Ballista gets wind of a conspiracy to kill Emperor Gallienus and has from sunset to next day sunset to foil the plot. He races ...more
Keith Currie
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Everyday Life in Ancient Rome

While it is not made clear on the blurb, I don’t think it will do the novel any harm if fans understand that this is a Ballista novel.
So what do we have? Ballista is back in Rome and discovers a plot against the emperor. Right from the start of this fast-moving, action-packed thriller, Ballista is attempting to get to the emperor and warn him of the plot, while the plotters, which include some of Rome’s most powerful men, do their very best to stop him. Does he
Story: 8 (Strong central focus with occasionally enervating digressions.
Characters: 8 (Ballista is the only major character but he’s fun as ever)
Accuracy: 10 (Duh)

This is a most unusual work: a modern thriller set in the 3rd century Roman Empire. There are very few historical novels that do not fall into the high politics/biography, military memoir, or mystery genres. Of previous Roman thrillers I can really only think of Gillian Bradshaw’s excellent Render Unto Caesar. This book embraces its
Dave Wheeler
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A plot is a foot to kill the Emperor but it's not Sherlock it's back in the Roman Era close to 2000 years ago, and Ballista is a Barbarian and the Emperor a former school friend. Having been in the Roman army and out of loyalty to his old friend and the love of his family Ballista has less than a day to save Gallienus the Emperor. The plot is set to be executed at the Colosseum after a days entertainment which is the usual mix of executions, fights till the death and the odd animal eating ...more
David Duran
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
When I started with this book, I expected more of it. Although the beginning and ending are quite good and interesting, I have had the impression that the novel was sometimes boring around half the book. I think it was too slow compared to other parts. Anyways, I must highlight the high quality of the historical research from the author.
Robin Carter
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Harry Sidebottom continues the saga of Ballista a romanised barbarian, a man of two worlds, forced to live as a Roman hostage and accept that his life is that of a Warrior of Rome (see what i did there). Ballista has formed the core character that launched Harry as a major Historical Fiction writer, a writer with an uncompromising accuracy of the Roman world (well he does teach at Oxford).

full review:
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's no doubt that Harry Sidebottom is an expert in both his fields, an eminent historian and a writer of historical fiction sagas. His focus is heavily upon action, danger and fighting in The Last Hour, the 2018 installment of the story of Ballista in the Warrior of Rome series. This 400 page book is very short, in the sense that it all takes place over just 24 hours. "Ballista has until the last hour of light the next day to get across Rome and save the Emperor and his own family". As in ...more
Mrs. A.A. Williams
A fight against treason.

Harry Sidebottom invokes all the thrills of the Roman Empire. The fighting for positions of influence, the poverty, the contrasting luxury of those of high status. This is an exciting story of one man's efforts to save an Emperor. His descriptions of Ancient Rome and the excitement of the Chase cannot fail to thrill. If you enjoy Roman history you will love this. It was difficult to put down!
Shelagh Wadman
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first encounter with Ballister and I can’t wait to read more of Harry Sidebottom’s novels. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this story of Ballister’s challenge to save the Emperors life. It seems like I have known him forever but it is only 24 hours of plotting, running, fighting and resourcefulness that sees Ballister win the day over everything that stands in his way. All this and a tour around Ancient Rome. A great read.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Only when opening this page to add my review, I discovered this book is one of a series. I couldn't tell while reading the book, which is good. The author did not give too much information about the main character nor it was unreadable because I knew nothing about his past (the main character that is, not the author).
Well, I hope I made myself clear ;-)

I love reading about the history of Rome and I also love reading fiction that is set in Rome. Having just finished watching AD on Netflix (great
Pamela Stockley
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book had me captivated from the first page. Ancient Rome came alive right off the pages. Will read more of Harry Sidebottom's books.
christopher duell
Edge of seat

Very good read.once started could not stop.twists and turns and keeps you guessing who the bad guys are. Buy it.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That was one crazy ride from start to finish! The author has said that it's a historical take on 24 (the TV show with Jack Bauer/ Kiefer Sutherland), and he isn't wrong. But where I got fed up with the TV show, this kept my attention from start to finish. The attention to historical detail is so good (you can tell that the author is an academic - he knows how to do his research!), and sitting in my living room reading the book, I was transported to ancient Rome with all the sights and smells (my ...more
Daphne Sharpe
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this fast paced,roller coaster story,set in 3rd century Rome. I haven't read any of the previous books,but this is a perfect stand alone novel,my only complaint when I started to read,was the sheer number of people and locations to commit to memory!!
Ballista has discovered a plot to assassinate the emperor, Gallienus,who was a close childhood friend. Ballista is an ex- Roman soldier,and hopes to use old friendships,in an attempt to prevent the killing.
However, Ballista,has the
Angela L
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author himself describes this book as an episode of Jack Bauer's 24 but set in ancient Rome and it's easy to see why. It literally does not let up in pace from the very first to the very last page.
Set over a 24 hour period, the barbarian Ballista has to save the emperor Gallienus from a plot to assassinate him. We follow his high octane journey through the city as he evades capture and pulls off stunts that Tom Cruise would be proud of.
You really get to feel, see and smell the underbelly of
Vedran Bileta
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finally, I was able to read the latest adventure of Ballista. Being myself a student of Late Roman history, I find Ballista's story quite convincing, and there is no need to talk about historical accuracy of the entire series (it is VERY accurate)

As such, I read the Last Hour with great gusto, and was amazed how well the 3rd century Rome and its inhabitants were presented. Even if we remove Ballista and the rest of the main characters from the story, Rome is shown in almost documentary fashion
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Last Hour hits the ground running and never stops. Ballista is a wanted man after he uncovers a shadowy conspiracy by an unknown group who plot to kill the Emperor and install their own replacement. There is a warrant out for his arrest and he can trust no one. So he embarks on a frantic journey through Rome in an attempt to warn the Emperor but he is pursued by the city guard, mercenaries and anyone who desires the increasing bounty on his head.

Harry Sidebottom's writing is fast-paced and
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Harry Sidebottom

“The Last Hour” by Harry Sidebottom is a stunning read. Set in Ancient Rome we are taken on a journey with Ballista, a credible and lovable character, through the streets of Rome meeting people from all countries, and of all ranks in their society. The storyline is exciting, invigorating, breathless, frightening, and at times there is sadness at the plight of society. The visual imagery and fast pace in rooftop chases, hand to hand fights are amazing, it’s as if me as a reader
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bruised and battered , alone, unarmed , without money or friends , the City Watch has orders to take him alive , but other more sinister forces want him dead. He has only twenty-four hours to expose a deadly conspiracy to save the leader of the world. No it is not Jack Bauer but Ballista and it is Rome AD265 in this story of bloodlust , ruthless ambition and revenge. It has been a while since the last Ballista adventure and I have missed him , Harry Sidebottom has produce a really exciting ...more
Jacob Stelling
Overall, a fairly average historical fiction which was well grounded in historical accuracy and truth. However, much of the story did just feel as though the reader was following a cat and mouse across Rome, usually with a few gruesome but unnecessary battle scenes; the book was set out over such a short period of time, a matter of hours, and yet it felt like it was longer than other similar books I’ve read. Overall the conclusion seemed forgone from about halfway through, and the decision to ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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Laurence Baldwin
This is a thrilling return for Ballista, hero of Harry Sidebottom's previous Warrior of Rome series, in a breathless race to save the Emperor. Harry's academic knowledge of Rome infuses the novel, but does not distract from the pace of the story as it builds up to an crescendo. I'm still hoping in the long run for a happy ending for Ballista, a gentle and well-deserved retirement, but that seems unlikely somehow...
Doreen Keele
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. It was rich in historical detail and definitely showed how far this man would go to in order to save himself, his family and his citizens! Fascinating novel!
Gail Wylde
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pigeonhole
This was a very fast paced action thriller, based in Ancient Rome! I was left breathless on several occasions while calling out a heartfelt "Oh No". I will be reading more from this author asap and will be recommending it to all friends and family.
I read this with Pigeonhole and the author Harry Sidebottom and would like to thank them both for this great experience.
Liz Deakin
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a brilliant, thrilling book. Full of excitement and action Balista, (or should I say Harry) really knows how to keep you on your toes. Set amidst the fascinating backdrop of imperial Rome, I thoroughly recommend this book.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The pace is fast and furious, full of daring and bravery what a roller coaster ride through ancient Rome. Couldn't put this one down.
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Harry Sidebottom is Lecturer in Ancient History at Merton College, Oxford, and part-time lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick. He has written for and contributed to many publications, including Classical Review, Journal of Roman Studies, and War and Society in the Roman World.

Other books in the series

Warrior of Rome (7 books)
  • Fire in the East (Warrior of Rome, #1)
  • King of Kings (Warrior of Rome, #2)
  • Lion of the Sun (Warrior of Rome, #3)
  • The Caspian Gates (Warrior of Rome, #4)
  • The Wolves of the North (Warrior of Rome, #5)
  • The Amber Road (Warrior of Rome, #6)