Sing to me oh Muse of black hulled ships full of prideful, hubristic, greedy Achaean’s and the prideful, hubristic, ill-fated Trojans. In this collaborative novel of the Trojan War, the authors have produced a most entertaining version of the well known tale; giving voice to not only the principles involved (Helen, Paris, Hector, Achilles, etc, etc) but to some of the lesser known but still important characters (Hellenus, Cassandra, Philoctetes, etc, etc). The authors also give some refreshing insight into the mindsets of the protagonists they were responsible for. I had to laugh as I read Russell Whitfield’s author’s note as he hoped that some would find his Agamemnon to be pitied rather than reviled. I laughed because after I read his chapter, I made a note stating that Whitfield almost had me feeling sorry for the bastard. 🙂 The H Team, as they call themselves, have combined their talents once again to produce a story that is imaginative, entertaining and just plain good. Everything ties together as the story unfolds from the “abduction” of Helen to the heart rending sack of Troy and the escape of Aeneas. Seven songs from seven authors; seven songs that would make Homer and Virgil proud. 4.8 stars and the highly acclaimed Hoover Book Reviews “When will the next collaboration be written?” award.
The big, bad bully of the East is back and he has most of the world coming with him. Not a good situation for the Greeks as Arimnestos continues the narrative of his life. With Leonidas dead, Xerxes has an open road to Athens so most of the population abandon their homes and converge on Salamis to await their doom. Xerxes has hundreds more ships than what the Greeks can muster, not to mention the size of his ground force. The Greeks are riven with strife as to how to defeat The Great King or even to survive the onslaught to come. The author has given us a treat in the manner he portrays the important figures in this drama, the prim and proper Aristides, Cimon, Artemesia, Themistocles, etc, etc. And being an avid re-enactor, Mr. Cameron knows what it’s like to stand in a shield wall and I suspect that if his group had the funds, they would fit out enough warships to fight the battle at Salamis. However, we’ll have to make do with the author’s seaworthy, descriptive powers as he puts on a dazzling display of sea-battle prowess. Another given is that Arimnestos will have a huge role in that battle but he will also have other things on his mind besides Xerxes. Masterful story telling awaits you, dear reader. Hoover Book Reviews says, “Bring on the finale!” 5 Stars
The Hand, a shadowy, secretive group of Alexander’s most loyal followers, are tasked with protecting and promoting Alexander’s son by Rhoxane. A task that takes Andrikos across the breadth of the Great one’s crumbling empire. Crumbling at the hands of Alexander’s generals, each of whom want the most territory, and who do not want Alexander IV to claim his father’s throne. Filled with cunning plans, intrigue, danger and even love, the author has done a splendid job in book 2 of this series. Andrikos has come a long way since he was recruited by Vettias and Mr. Kachel has developed his character nicely from the young man in search of himself to an accomplished practitioner of the ‘Dark Arts’ of spy-craft. A thoroughly enjoyable read that leaves room for more in this story of an unsettled and dangerous time. 4 stars
In this volume of The Killer of Men series, Arimnestos continues the telling of his story to his thugater (daughter) and her friends; a story that has seen Arimnestos return to his beloved Plataea to rebuild his home and his life. But, the killer of men was called upon to convey Spartan envoys to Persia to meet and try to placate Xerxes, the mercurial King Of Kings. Of course, as we all know from history, Xerxes was not placated, mollified, or deflected from his goal to annihilate the Greek mainland. Once again, the author has taken the historical record and created a stunning account of the Greek resistance to the Persian juggernaut. Exquisitely detailed, elegant use of language, and an intriguing glimpse at the political and cultural climate of the times make this tale a very enjoyable read. Make no mistake, The Persians are coming even after the great battles of Artemesium. Salamis is next. 4.7 stars
After Marathon, Arimnestos goes out of his mind in grief over the loss of wife and child and thus begins a journey of extreme pain and degradation. His struggle to survive the torments and the subsequent saga of returning home makes for an entertaining tale as the author fills in the historical gap between Marathon and Xerxes’ invasion at Thermopylae. Meticulous research and well rounded characters are once again hallmarks of this author; it’s like reading Patrick O’Brian, only for ancient mariners. The seafaring portions are detailed; the navigation of those days is just plain scary and that my friends is what this book is, a scary and exciting story of survival and revenge. Arimnestos, in the end is once again becoming a killer of men. 4.3 stars…bring it on, Xerxes 🙂
The War is over. The Horse came through. The Skaen Gates have fallen and Priam’s Pride is a smoking ruin. Time to load up the loot and slaves and head on out for a leisurely cruise back to kith, kin and kingdom ruling. Ah, but wasn’t there something about a 10 year waiting period before the kith, kin and kingdom stuff? A tumultuous 10 years and a journey that will test everything in a man; courage, loyalty, faith and friendship. Odysseus, mastermind of the Greek’s long awaited victory, is no longer a favorite of the gods, try as he may to appease them; no longer the confident King as he is threatened by those he has lead all those years; no longer does his vaunted intellect and cunning prove effective or wise. This journey back home to Penelope, a wife under siege by those who would replace the rule of Laertes son, Odysseus, is brought to luxuriant life in this, part 5 of The Adventures of Odysseus. The author brings the reader into the constant drama surrounding Odysseus, Eperitus and the rest of the Ithacans; bringing to life the horrors faced, the circumstances that threaten to unravel everything they hold dear. I kept thinking, man, how much more can they take? Well, they’ll have to take more as this book covers the first half of the journey…there’s more to come and that’s, methinks, a good thing. 5 stars
In my review of Killer of Men I stated that I wouldn’t take too long before reading Marathon. Where does the time go? Three months? My only excuse is that I have read some really good books in the interval. 🙂 Now that I’ve finished Marathon, I make the same prediction regarding the next book in the series, Poseidon’s Spear…well, we’ll see how that pans out. Anyway, Marathon…is just another example of the author’s remarkable storytelling. I was continually amazed with his knowledge of the era and the way that knowledge was used to not only enhance the story but to also teach the history of that time and place; much of which I already knew but it never hurts to relearn things that have lain dormant for decades. This is not only played out in the events of the war but also in the everyday lives of the peasants, farmers, craftsmen and aristocrats who make this story come alive. One example that stands out for me is Arimnestos’ forge and the work of the smiths as they turn bronze sheets into household items as well as armor and weapons. The lead up to the battle and the battle itself are both told with an incisive vividness that kept me turning the pages until the end. Well done Mr.Cameron…well done. 5 stars