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
King of Ithaca is the first book in this series about the Greek warrior and hero Odysseus. The story begins with Laertes still the King but there is a revolt brewing that threatens to remove Laertes and his line as the royal family. Odysseus is consulting the oracle on Mt. Parnassus about his future. It is this journey where he meets the other main protagonist of the book, Eperitus, an exiled prince looking to find glory under a new lord. The Odysseus in this story is not portrayed in the Homeric mode but is rather more human than mythic. His crafty like nature is not some spur of the moment inspiration, instead Odysseus wrestles with each problem to find solutions. There is doubt and anguish involved in the process. This very human quality is found in all of the characters involved including the three main women in the story, Helen, Penelope and the most formidable of them, Clytaemnestra.
In juxtaposition to the human equation we find a taste of the Olympians mainly in the portrayal of Athena. She has promised to lend her aid to Odysseus in his quest to reclaim the throne of Ithaca but you know Olympians, they can be a bit fickle at times and Odysseus knows this.
There are many scenes of action, battles with human foes and one with a monster in the mythic tradition, and a sort of humorous scene of the hero Ajax entering the hall of Tyndareus in Sparta. He reminded me somewhat of Angus Donald’s Little John but on steroids. There are also a few well placed quirks in the story line that make one pause for a second to negotiate an unexpected turn in the road. It is a very enjoyable account of my favorite Greek hero, Odysseus and look forward to continuing his story in the sequel. This book rates a strong 4 stars.
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.