Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating tale of a little known slice of history, 17 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Tyrant (Paperback)
Being an infrequent reader of fiction, and NOT a student of history, I get great enjoyment from Valerio Massimo Manfredi's historic fiction books. When I sit down I want to be transported to another time, another world, "when men were men" and lived life on the sword edge. "Tyrant" does just that, sweeping you up in the little known story of Dionysius the Elder, who became the tyrant of Syracuse, an important "Greek" city on what is now the Island of Sicily.
Historic fiction gives you a flavour of what it might have been like 'back then'. You don't expect it to be perfectly accurate in everything but the the big landmarks, the big events and people. The gaps in our knowledge are filled in with the author's intuition and imagination. And for me, Manfredi does a great job. Let's not forget that he is Professor of Classical Archaelogy too -- so, despite being a popularizer, he is basing his works on a fairly solid grasp of the history.
Some people might find the translation (he's Italian and wrote the book in Italian) a little clumsy, the dialogue at times a bit cheesy and unlikely, or the scenes a little over dramatic -- and if you are fussy like that... try something drier, you are welcome to it.
For the general reader, this is a great yarn, a welcome distraction from the mundane existence of 21st century living and an opportunity to learn something of a time about which most of us know nothing. I enjoyed it, as I have his other books.
Manfredi fans will also enjoy books by Stephen Pressfield, such as "Gates of Fire" and "Last of the Amazons" -- Pressfield writes in English and his battle scenes are gut-wrenchingly gripping.
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