It wasn't a thrilling review, but then I found the book not particularly thrilling up to the point I had read at that time, finding it very disappointing in comparison to the previous three novels in this series.
I think I stated that on finding the first three books I picked them up and started reading them and could hardly put them down. They were fast paced, full of information and the authors undoubted knowledge of his subject and penchant for using both Greek and Latin terminology was not off putting in the slightest, the books still moved on at a cracking pace and kept me, as the reader, fully involved with the story lines, wanting to turn pages and continue reading, until there was no more to read.
The ability of an author to be able to do that, is, I suspect, going to be a measure of his or hers mass appeal. They write it and we are unable, once we start reading it, unwilling to stop. And we get distracted from everything else that is going on in our lives as we start to live vicariously through the pages of the book we are reading (!) but not in this instance.
I don't know if Dr Sidebottom was or is getting bored with his subject in novel form but it seemed to me that he strayed into the realms of classical lecturer, and on this showing that should be avoided. Maybe it is to be expected though as we get to the end of the book and he goes in to all of the historical books drawn on and then we get to the 'Thanks' to all those who assisted in some way and it is littered with all of the College people who contributed in some way or other and it is in this I suspect where it all fell apart. I am sure that they are all people of admirable intellect in academia, but in proofing a novel, probably not so clever!
I also thought he might be trying to have a bit of a laugh at the readers expense with the character of the Eunuch 'Mastabates', yes you did read that correctly. While the name has obvious and funny connotations, the whole thing seemed like a distraction and while we did move on to a small battle it was really nothing to write home about.
Ballista continues in his exile and is moving on to his next far flung outpost at the end of the book and so this means that there is probably going to be another outing for him and his 'familia', whether it will be an other outing for me remains to be seen!
Finally, if the author or any other author or publisher of E Books is reading this can I make a suggestion?
If you need to include a glossary, and historical novels do tend to need them from time to time, can I ask that this be placed at the beginning of the book, in ebook format at least. If you are reading an ebook across, in my case, a Kindle device and a smart phone, if the glossary is at the rear you lose the ability to sync the devices to the furthest page read, as it will always, after opening the glossary for the first time, default to that section of the book, AND THIS IS QUITE ANNOYING.