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 looks on helplessly, but vows under his breath to avenge those who have brought the empire to the brink of destruction with their treachery. One day, maybe not soon, but one day, I will kill you . . . But first he must decide what price he will pay for his own freedom. Only the fearless and only those whom the gods will spare from hell can now save the empire from a catastrophic ending. Ballista, the Warrior of Rome, faces his greatest challenge yet.
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. The battle-bloodied general Ballista returns to the imperial court from the fallen city of Arete - only to find that there are those who would rather see him dead than alive. Ballista is soon caught in a sinister web of intrigue and religious fanaticism . . . his courage and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test in the service of Rome and the Emperor.
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.
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, Warrior of Rome, knows the ways of the barbarians, and only he can defeat them. The Goths' appetite for brutality and destruction is limitless and before long Ballista is locked into a deadly bloodfeud, with an enemy that has sworn to destroy him - and the Imperium - at all costs.
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. Ballista is in a strange land, among strange people, but is it possible that the greatest threat may come from within his own familia?
On a mission shrouded in secrecy and suspicion, Ballista is sent by Gallienus back to his original home of Hyperborea, the place of the people of his birth to raise an army against Postumus. This means that Ballista must journey along The Amber Road to the far north. Along the way Ballista meets a fearsome, masked warlord who attacks, bringing fire and sword against Ballista and his men. And in his home of Hyperborea not all welcome Ballista's return. In the battle between Postumus and Gallienus only one can survive and be emperor Renowned for their skilled blending of action and historical accuracy, Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome novels take the reader from the shouts of the battlefield to the whisperings of the emperor's inner circle. Rich in detail and punctuated by harrowing action, there's no better way to transport yourself back to the days of the Roman Empire.
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