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
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 🙂
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
I put off too long starting The Long War series by Christian Cameron. Killer of Men is the first installment of the epic story of East vs West, pitting the Greek city-states against the might of the Persian King of Kings. That is the backdrop to this thoroughly entertaining tale of one man’s journey from his home in Plataea becoming a feared warrior, a killer of men. The author deftly constructs the world of Miltiades of Athens and Darius the Persian; the descriptions of everyday life, the detail in the battle scenes, the scope of heroism and betrayal displayed by well written characters – besides the protagonist, I especially enjoyed the portrayals of Briseis, a woman who will scheme with the best of them and of the philosopher Heraclitus (a personal aside – one of my favorite philosophical aphorisms comes from Heraclitus, the one about not being able to step into the same river twice). All of those elements propel Arimnestos from a lowly farm existence to his eventual status as a hero. As far as the war is concerned, this volume is an excellent stage setter for the next book, Marathon and I will not put off reading that one. 5 stars for Killer of Men.
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.