Monday, 12 March 2018

#BlogTour: The Last Hour by Harry Sidebottom @BonnierZaffre #TheLastHour #HarrySidebottom

Published on 8th March 2018 by Bonnier Zaffre. It has been described as a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seats, perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane and Conn Iggulden. 

A lone figure stands silhouetted atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian.  Behind him, the sun is setting over the centre of the known world. Far below, the river is in full flood. The City of Rome lies spread out before him on the far bank.  Footsteps pound up the stairs. He's been set up. An enemy is closing in; he is cornered.  He jumps.

Bruised and battered, he crawls out of the raging river.  He is alone and unarmed, without money or friends, trapped in a deadly conspiracy at the heart of the Empire. The City Watch has orders to take him alive; other, more sinister, forces want him dead.  As the day dies, he realises he has only 24 hours to expose the conspirators, and save the leader of the world. If the Emperor dies, chaos and violence will ensue.  If the Emperor dies, every single person he loves will die.

He must run, bluff, hide and fight his way across the Seven Hills.

He must reach the Colosseum, and the Emperor. 


He must make it to The Last Hour.


I am delighted to be able to share with you an extract from the book today, I hope it whets your appetite. Do feel free to let me know what you think...

Another scream echoed up the long passageway, then ended abruptly.

Every breath hurt. Sweat was running off Ballista. Would the stairs ever end? It was like some infernal punishment in myth.

A final corner, and there was the door. All the gods let it be unlocked.

The door opened outwards. Ballista closed it behind him, and leant against it as he fought to regain his breath. Forty-three winters on Middle Earth; too long for this exertion.

The roof garden was gently domed, like a low hill. It rose to where a plinth supported a more than life-sized statue of the Emperor Hadrian in a triumphal chariot drawn by four horses. The terrible storms of the last several days had passed, but the air smelt of rain. The stones underfoot were still wet.

There had to be another way down. Ballista pushed himself off the door, set off up the path to the top.

The sun was dipping towards the horizon. It cast long shadows from the cypress trees, dappled where they were festooned with vines or ivy. Less than an hour until darkness.

Ballista circled the base of the statuary. No door, no trapdoor. Nothing. There had to be another way down. A passageway for gardeners, plants, servants. He looked around wildly.

Under the cypresses the garden was thickly planted with fruit trees and flower beds. Paths radiated out. There were hedges, potted plants, heavy garden furniture, small fountains, more statues. The service access would be carefully hidden. The elite did not want to see slaves when they were enjoying the views. There was no time to search.

Ballista thought of the light wells. No, even if he could find one of them, it would be too narrow, offer no handholds. Another thought came to him. He took the path down to the east.

There was a thin wooden rail above a delicate and ornamental screen along the edge of the garden, with yet more statues at intervals. Ballista did not look at the city spread out beyond the river, barely glanced at the swollen waters of the Tiber at the foot of the monument. He gripped the sculpted marble leg of Antinous, the doomed boy, loved by Hadrian. A Roman might have been troubled by the association. As heir to the different world viewf the north, such omens did not bother Ballista. He had a head for heights, and leaned out as far as he dared over the rail.

The cladding of the Mausoleum was white marble. The blocks were so artfully fitted together that there was barely a discernible line where they joined. No hope of a finger hold. Seventy foot or more of smooth, sheer wall down to the base, after that ledge perhaps another forty foot down to the narrow embankment and the river. No way to climb down.

Ballista ran back to the head of the stairs, opened the door. The men were nearing the top.


About the Author:

HARRY SIDEBOTTOM took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Oxford and has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he lectures in Ancient History.

His first book Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction was published in 2004 to critical acclaim and he has published numerous chapters in books, and articles and reviews in scholarly journals.  His foray into fiction began with Fire in the East, the first of his six-novel 'Warrior of Rome' series, which has sold over half a million copies worldwide. His next series, Throne of the Caesars, was equally acclaimed.  The Last Hour, his tenth novel, introduces us once again to Marcus Clodius Ballista, hero of the 'Warrior of Rome' books.

     
#THELASTHOUR



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