Return to Ithaca by Glyn Iliffe

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It is with a great sadness that I say goodbye to Odysseus and company (for the time being).  This epic series, so brilliantly conceived and written, has come to it’s conclusion.  Throughout my life of reading I have periodically gone back and reread a book or a series of books.  This practice has been decidedly put on hold the last few years as my humble book reviewing blog has garnered the attention of many authors who now ask me to read and review their work.  That coupled with my own novel writing has put a crimp in going back to reread any of my favorites.  The Adventures of Odysseus series may change that.  Whether it is because ancient Greek history was my first love or because the author has written some damned good books, I will be rereading this series.

The story of Odysseus comes to a close as he returns to Ithaca to reclaim his home, his throne and his family.  The emotional roller coaster ride the main characters experience is the highlight of this volume.  Odysseus, Eperitus, Telemachus and Penelope go through the gamut of doubt and fear; hope and happiness as they battle the scheming suitors for the right to rule.  The story is well known and it is a credit to the author for taking it and making it his own, giving the reader a fresh look at this ancient tale.  5 stars

A Song of War by Christian Cameron,Libbie Hawker,Kate Quinn,Vicky Alvear Shecter,Stephanie Thorton,SJA Turney&Russell Whitfield

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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.

Salamis by Christian Cameron

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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

 

 

World on Fire – Spoils of Olympus II by Christian Kachel

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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

The Great King by Christian Cameron

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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

 

Poseidon’s Spear by Christian Cameron

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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 Voyage of Odysseus by Glyn Iliffe

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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