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King of Kings (Warrior of Rome, #2)
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King of Kings (Warrior of Rome #2)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  1,722 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
AD 256 - the specter of treachery hangs ominously over the Roman Empire. The sparks of Christian fervor 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. The battle-bloodied general Ballista returns to the imperial ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Michael Joseph, (first published 2009)
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Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seamless continuation from volume 1. There were several main adventures; but this book gave us some character development of Ballista--his struggling to be accepted; his sometimes insecurity; his decency and integrity--his statement of and actions showing he is "living by a code", something Calgacus has taught him since boyhood. Of course, his military ability goes without saying. Sometimes his opinion is ignored by the emperor and council.

He is first given the mission of fighting Sassanids at
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
There's a bit of a double-edged sword to Harry Sidebottom's Roman books.
They're full of information on the late third century Roman Empire including the various terminology, but sadly at the expense of any depth to the characterisation or immersiveness (Yes, auto-correct I know that's not a real word).

The fact that he is an academic writing a story isn't an automatic negative thing, unless it becomes far more of a recitation of facts and statistics than a riveting read.

It's only been a couple of
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I recently read the first book in this series, Fire In The East. I'd enjoyed it...good characters, interesting descriptions of ancient Roman siege craft, and set in the later Roman Empire, a period I'd not read much on. At times the author, a Classics professor at Oxford, spent a bit too much time on historical detail, slowing the plot. But a rousing, cliff-hanging ending led me to read this, the second volume in the series. What a treat! With the history far better integrated into the story, wh ...more
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
When reading some reviews for this book, some people complained that it felt too factual - sacrificing enjoyment and pace for little tid-bits of historical data. Personally, I didn't find that to be the case at all. Generally the book wasn't as good as its predecessor, and yes, it was slower and ever so slightly heavier. But, it wasn't as dramaticly bad as some reviewers would have you believe. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, then it's a pretty good bet you'll like this one too. An ...more
Stuart McCunn
Alas, not all is well for Ballista in book two of the Warrior of Rome series. Unfortunately, all is not well for the series either. Ballista, being a perpetual outsider, works far better as an independent warrior than as peripheral general in an imperial campaign. It was a mistake to place him so close to imperial authority. The manipulations and backroom dealing at the center of the Roman state does not make for interesting reading because Ballista can have no part in it. This means the author ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romans
I really enjoyed this second book in Sidebottom's Roman series. The political intrigue deepens with each chapter as Balista makes even more enemies at court. The characters around the Emperor are scheming and treacherous and Batista needs to maneuver around each just to stay alive. At times I wanted Balista to just reach out and choke a few of them. I do hope that just desserts are in store for his adversaries in future books.

Balista's time in the east is also spent persecuting Christians which
Paul Bennett
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ballista the bada$$; barbarian bred, but Roman raised, now in disfavor with Valerian, has a new assignment - persecuting the dangerous religious cult, Christianity.  Not a happy situation for him or his familia given that he is a warrior and a battle hardened commander.  An administrative job, given to him under suspicious circumstances, has him requesting and then conniving to be replaced.  Book two of Warrior of Rome adds to the intrigues of the imperial court and sets Ballista on a collision ...more
Lindsay Eaton
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
King of Kings is the second book in Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome series - and, as with the first book, I just loved it. In the 'Historical Afterword', Mr Sidebottom pays homage to two historical novelists whose work has given him great pleasure: Bernard Cornwell - "What makes Cornwell stand so far above a horde of inferior imitators is the jewel-like level of historical detail that can only come from a genuine knowledge and love of history"; and Alfred Duggan - "One of the great pleasures ...more
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe I enjoyed this book even more than the first book in the Warrior of Rome series "Fire in the East," as now I have been introduced to all the main characters. Also I really do like the way Harry Sidebottom tells his story with just the right mix of History and Fiction. Harry Sidebottom leaves you with four threads to look forward too in the next book of the series "Lion of the Sun." Who will live? Will there be a new Emperor? Are just a few of the un-answered questions. Lastly this stor ...more
Blair Hodgkinson
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rich in historical detail and interesting characters like its predecessor and likewise well-written, but one is left with the impression the main character is a little too much at sea in the politics and machinations surrounding him. I trust he will become cannier as the series proceeds. A good read.
Gordon Chambers
Jul 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
I was sorry that I just couldn't get into this book. Perhaps it was just my mood at the time, and the fact that this is not the first of the series, but to my mind it lacks the depth of story and exicitement of Simon Scarrow's 'Eagle' series or Conn Iggleden's 'Emperor' series which were excellent.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, roman
The first in Harry Sidebottom's Roman series, FIRE IN THE EAST, was a thrilling and impeccably researched siege novel that left me breathless come the end. I was understandably eager to pick up Ballista's adventures in this, the second novel, but I was in for a major disappointment.

KING OF KINGS can't hope to equal the success of the first volume. Without a siege-style storyline to focus the action, Sidebottom's narrative is laborious and episodic. The main character, Ballista, is involved in a
Nov 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooks, history, military, war
King of Kings is as interesting as the first installment of the series, but also clearly a "middle book". Other than in the first book, Fire in the East, there is no continuous arch of events (at least not at first), but a series of episodes that highlight how the lead character, Ballista, loses imperial favor due to intrigue.
While the events weren't as spectacular or spell-binding as the siege of Arete featuring prominently in Fire in the East, I kept reading mostly because by now I am interes
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
This book certainly looks like a bridge book and thus suffers from lack of theme and direction. It is just going through the motions to tell inconsequential material that could be glossed over in two chapters instead of an entire book. It deals with our Hero, Ballista and the last 4 years of the reign of Valerian. When Valerian, according to this material, was betrayed to the Persians. Our hero the one voice against the traitors that was not listened to.

Our hero, Ballista sitting along the sidel
Deren Kellogg
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Second book in Sidebottom's "Warrior of Rome" series. Ballista makes good his escape from the fallen city of Arete, but must travel to Antioch to report his "failure" to the emperor Valerian. There, he unwittingly gets involved in court intrigue and is sent to Ephesus to persecute Christians before returning for another confrontation with the Persians.

Pretty good followup to "Fire in the East" continues the story of the Roman officer of Germanic origins. Liberally sprinkled with actual historica
Robin Carter
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Having taken a trawl through some of the reviews on here i am somewhat surprised at certain comments.
Ok the book is not an Iggulden, who lets face it is a natural fireside story teller, and he is not a Scarrow, who cuts straight to the action and delivers brilliantly real characters. But why do we want the same, surely we want something different, something new.
There seems to be a lot of Jump on the author for being an academic and oh no ...adding too much history to a historical fiction novel,
M.G. Mason
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
The second book in this series begins immediately where the first left off. We are thrown straight into a desperate dash across the desert to reach Antioch and tell the (Eastern) Emperor how Arete had fallen to the Sassanids.

Though still incredibly well written, this book does tend to sag in the middle as Ballista is sent off on what at first glance seems an unnecessary mission to persecute Christians following a quick battle with the Sassanids. Though short and kind of interesting, it detracts
Nick Brett
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was not blown away by the first book and if I hadn't bought this at the same time would probably not bothered with the ongoing tales of Ballista. The author seems to try too hard to prove he is a 'proper' historian so we are given too much detail and this is not balanced out with well paced plots or interesting characterisations. This was true of the first book and the author has not changed his style here. So if you loved the first, more of the same here, if you found the first flawed, well t ...more
Better than the first book. We get to see Ballista with his family which I liked. He still has a great relationship with his slaves. I enjoyed the scenes with them most. We are not stuck behind the walls of a town in this one so we get lots of different places. Like all Roman novels, there is treachery and betrayal. It makes me wonder if there was ever a power that wasn't corrupt. Every roman novel I've read, the emperor always seems weak and puppet like, being lead by lesser men. I have no idea ...more
Elizabeth Sulzby
I may return to this book starting with the first in the series (this is the second) but in comparison with other books about the Roman Empire, military, politics, etc., this starts as a long slough of the "heroes" being chased by "non-heroes" with dull sentence after dull sentence after dull sentence. It sent me back to Ben Kane's The Forgotten Legion as a comparison to see whether I was being unfair to Sidebottom. Nope. The Forgotten Legion still grips me from the get-go and is well written. I ...more
Masen Production
“The second in the series, I was not altogether buoyant to purchase this book thou I picked it up and now finished reading it. It's a little better than the first one thou there are many loose ends. Vague tracks that best we could have done without. I flicked thorough those paragraphs and missed nothing. The imagery of 200AD is very much there and the nuances with the actual history then are very vague but again what can one expect out of this fiction. The main character "Ballista" is interestin ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Number two in the trilogy (?) and a really enjoyable read. Sorry to have finished it, looking forward to ordering the third any time i have a birthday soon.
He certainly knows his Roman-period onions, does Harry. He's clearly done the research that will add to the enjoyment for the reader, without getting bogged down in detail and description.
It's a good story - there's more trouble in the east - well written and you don't need to have read the first to jump in here.
So, if you've got a few days t
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it
King of Kings is a second in a series, but I received a review copy of it from the publisher and chose to read it as a stand-alone rather than hunting for volume 1. I think that reading the first volume would have helped me sympathize better with the protagonist and I'm pretty sure it would have eliminated the mysteries about his past. The story line is good and the history appears to be, but it is not my most familiar area -- the time of the Sassanid Persian King Shapour and Roman Emperor Valer ...more
Ian Young
Set in the reign of Valerian, relatively late in the the history of the Roman Empire, whenever the power of Rome was beginning to disintegrate under attacks on all frontiers. Not a period of Roman history about which I am very knowledgable. This is an authorative book from the historical perspective, written by an Oxford academic, but wears its learning reasonably lightly, beneath a well conceived plot and convincing characters. A good holiday read for those intersted in Rome.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. This is such a great series: the historical research into the architecture; arts; social mores and military stew of the various cultures and detailed layouts of the cities and towns that the characters move through creates a level of realism that informs one yet is always in service of the plot and character development. A vibrant classroom wrapped in a great story. Just a supine historical series. Can't wait for the next one.
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Though not as good as the first in the series, Sidebottom retains his ability to inform, as well as tell a highly readable story. It should be noted, however, that the persecution of Christians by the main character may be disturbing to some. I will at some future point read the next volume in this series, Lion of the Sun.
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Sidebottom's works. Really interesting portrayal of late Roman Empire. Able to build tension despite the fact that I know how the story had to end as soon as I saw that Aurelian was the emperor.
Jun 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
This started off well. I like books about Romans so was looking forward to this. I found it, unfortunately, heavy going and gave up over half way through. May try again but I was very disappointed. Anyone else read his other books? Are they any good?
Stephen Arnott
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical-rome
Something of a let down after his first book in the series (Fire in the East). Our hero, the general Ballista, goes here, goes there, does stuff, comes back again... The plot is very episodic and I never felt that involved or interested.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not as good as the first volume,but still a story with epic porpotions towards the end.Really good.This volume is set more towards the treachery and stabs in the back,in the heart of the roman empire.
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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.

More about Harry Sidebottom...

Other Books in the Series

Warrior of Rome (6 books)
  • Fire in the East (Warrior of Rome, #1)
  • 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)

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“Nie rozumiesz. Każda religia, która nakazuje wyznawcom kochać odległego, zapewne wymyślonego boga bardziej od tych, których powinni kochać, rodziny, przyjaciół, a przede wszystkim dzieci, jest okrutna i nieludzka. Więc jak widzisz, nie sądzę, żebym należał do ludzi, których można nawrócić na wiarę w waszego ukrzyżowanego boga.” 1 likes
“The ivory images of the gods that followed were applauded by their particular devotees: Neptune by sailors, Mars by soldiers, Apollo and Artemis by soothsayers and hunters, Minerva by craftsmen, Bacchus and Ceres by drunks and countryfolk in town for the day. Venus and Cupid were cheered by all - who could be so dull as to deny ever being touched by any aspect, physical or otherwise, of love?” 0 likes
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