Author: Harry Sidebottom
Publisher: Zaffre Publishing
Release: March 8th 2018
I received a copy of The Last Hour from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
While The Last Hour is listed as the first in a new series, it is all actually still connected to Ballista and the previous books he’s been in. While one can easily read this novel without having read the series (like I did) I do think a fan of the earlier series would probably enjoy it more, as I likely missed a lot of references and details. Not to mention I didn’t get to see Ballista’s character develop to the point he is at now, which is a shame, really.
I’m sure that by not reading the previous trilogy I’ve missed a lot of the finesse and backstory that goes with Ballista’s character. I regret that. Nowhere in the description of the novel did it indicate that this was branching off of another series; a fact I went back and double checked. Had I been aware of the other series, I likely would have taken the time to read them first. In theory I would have had a lot more context for the world around, as well as previous plots and character development.
Despite all of this, I actually really enjoyed Ballista’s character. He’s devoted and determined and stubborn as heck, and I loved that. It actually really makes me wish I had read the earlier novels first (I’m sort of picturing the latest James Bond movies for that – where he’s younger and is still gaining the skill set he’s so famous for).
From what I’ve learned about Ballista, he’s a barbarian (in the most romanticized fashion, of course) that’s been forced to take up sword and shield for Rome. There’s a lot more to it than that, I’m sure. For example, while it’s clear that he didn’t choose to be in Rome, he still made some friends and acquaintances during his stay. I should have liked to learn more about how that all came out, which means I’m going to have to add a certain trilogy to my reading list (the horror).
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I really enjoyed the break from my more typical choices. Harry Sidebottom is an excellent writer – I greatly enjoyed his writing style and tone of voice. Along with being descriptive (but not overly so, thank goodness), Sidebottom does an excellent job of pacing. The whole story starts out with an action scene full of danger, immediately griping the reader, and it continues to wax and wane and overall keep the pace steady.