“Fire and Sword”

Harry Sidebottom

This is book three of the “Throne of the Caesars” trilogy.

This trilogy is about the Rome’s Year of the Six Emperors (238 AD). It starts in 235 AD with the assassination of the last Severan emperor, Severus Alexander and focuses on the reign of Maximinus Thrax, who Sidebottom portrays as a somewhat reluctant ruler who is haunted by the death of his wife.

There are a lot of characters, and some — who seem to be in the book just so Sidebottom can write about different parts of Roman society — have plot arcs don’t really go anywhere. I liked the books. It’s obvious Sidebottom knows his history (he should: he teaches ancient history at Oxford), and I enjoy reading good books about ancient Rome. As a novel, though, it has things that could have been cut out without hurting the story.