Tyrant by Cameron Christian

The book Tyrant by Cameron Christian transported me back to my first love in ancient history, The Greeks.  This story takes place during the time of Alexander toward the end of his flaming career.  The main character is Kineas, an Athenian who once fought under Alexander but who is now an exile from Athens and has become the leader of a mercenary band of warriors.  Kineas is an interesting fellow, an Athenian noble brought up as a gentleman able to hold his own in symposium settings as well as the gymnastic.  As the story progresses we watch the author allow his protagonist to grow as circumstances compel him to be more than he imagined.

Kineas has been hired by a tyrant, The Archon of Olbia to come and train his troops ostensibly to defend against the depredations of the horse warriors of the Steppes, The Sakje.  Merely bandits in the eyes of Olbia, The Sakje are in reality a highly organized and civilized society.  The main plot is concerned with the alliance formed between the Sakje and the Tyrant of Olbia as they are facing an invasion from one of Alexander’s generals looking to garner some glory for himself.

The gamut of human emotion and experience are all explored by the author, from greed and avarice to the almost carefree spirit of warriors before a big battle.  The ancillary characters are well done and provide Kineas with a well-rounded group of friends, followers and foes.  Kineas also has a mystical element to his character as he is haunted by powerful dreams that shape his outlook and actions.

The action is bloody when necessary, the horsemanship is superb, the story is well told.  My only real complaint is that it seems to take a while to get to the climactic battle scene with The Macedonians but when it happens, it is intense and satisfying.  I look forward to the sequel.  I rate this book at 4.1.

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