Fire and Sword: Throne of the Caesars, Book 3

Written by Harry Sidebottom
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In 238 AD, the Roman Empire is in chaos. Co-emperors Gordian the Elder and his son have both been killed in Africa. The former emperor, Maximinus Thrax, seeks to reclaim the throne, which was “stolen” from him while he was in the North fighting the Germanic tribes. Many in the Senate had supported the Gordiani, and now the Senators are fighting among themselves to save their own lives should Maximinus return. The city of Aquileia near Italy’s northern border, presently held by Gordian supporters, is now under siege by Maximinus. Should it fall, the route is open for him to march on Rome.

I’ve enjoyed reading all three books in this series. This was a violent time in Roman history, and the author has written a well-researched story with a nice blend of historical characters mixed in. I would recommend reading the previous two installments first to gain a better understanding of the many characters. Much of this book revolves around the siege of Aquileia, because of its importance to Maximinus Thrax during his march. I am anxious to read the next installment, although knowing Roman history from this time does give away the ending. The author has brought 3rd-century Rome to life, and the steady unraveling of the plot makes this book a worthwhile read.