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Tyrant Paperback – Unabridged, 6 Oct 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Edit/Cover edition (6 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330426540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330426541
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 942,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A thundering historical epic from the bestselling master of the genre

From the Back Cover

Sicily, 412 BC: the infinite duel between a man and a superpower begins. The man is Dionysius, who has just made himself Tyrant of Syracuse. The superpower is Carthage, mercantile megalopolis and mistress of the seas.

Dionysius, twenty years old and a fearless combatant of the army of Syracuse, is forced to witness the horrifying massacre of Selinus - a splendid Greek city on the edge of the Carthaginian provinces - which he attributes to the fatal indecision of the democratic government. From that moment, a rage is born within this young man that will change the course of history.
Dionysius dreams of transforming Sicily into a Greek island. To achieve total control over the economic and military resources of his city he is willing to condemn himself in the eyes of history for centuries to come: to be eternally branded as the Tyrant.
Thus begins the adventure of a man who built the largest army in antiquity and invented dreadful war machines; the adventure of a man who was also a dramatist, a statesman, a poet and a lover, tied for all his life to the memory of his unfortunate first love.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Paperback
Few authors can be better equipped to write about the history of ancient Greece and Rome than Valerio Massimo Manfredi. Professor of archaeology at the university of Milan, he has carried out many excavations and expeditions in the Mediterranean region. He has produced many factual books on historical matters, mainly military and has still found the time to write several novels and this is one of the best of them.

I think that this is one of the authors best books to date and he has written several excellent ones including the Alexander trilogy which received world wide acclaim and probably brought the authors name to the forefront of ancient historical writers.

The book takes place in 412 AD and charts the clash of one man and a superpower. The man is Dionysius of Syracuse. The superpower is Carthage, a city with thriving trade links and one of the most powerful navies in the Mediterranean. How can a 20-year-old even think of going against the might and resources of a place such as Carthage.

Thus begins the journey into manhood of a man who rose to gather one of the greatest armies in the Ancient World and also invented many of the trappings of war that lasted for centuries. Machines never seen before by mankind. Machines that could wreak havoc and destruction on a scale never before dreamed of. Dionysius also invented the quinquereme a five module battleship that had fifty oarsmen to propel through the water.

But who was the man Dionysius, was he the ruthless, murdering tyrant that his enemies depicted or was he an intelligent man born ahead of his time. History has lumped him with the so called tyrants, but the greatness of the man is impossible to deny.
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By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
Again, this is a review of a book that I bought and read long ago (in 2005), hugely enjoyed, but didn't bother to review at the time. Contrary to other reviewers, I found Tyrant, the life story of Dionysios the Elder of Syracuse, to be Massimo's best book, probably because this is essentially a historical novel with little fiction in it and because Manfredi obviously knows his topic well. A further element that made this book interesting is that the topic itself is one that is rarely covered, in historical novels at least.

The basic story is about the descent and transformation of a young (but rather ambitious) man from a good family of Syracuse (although not among the highest aristocratic families) "into a merciless despot", as another reviewer puts it. However, this is certainly not "the story of Dionysios written by Dionysios" for, despite all the facts explaining why he becomes such a despot, I certainly did not get to sympathize with him. Another interesting character, presented as a contrast to the Tyrant and who, unlike him, has not put aside his initial idealism, is that of his brother Leptines. Here, however, the author may have introduced some license. Leptines is a historical character who seconded his tyranical brother. Whether he really was as described in the book is however another matter.

I won't go into too much details and spoil the story by summarizing it. The only thing I can say is that since Dionysios became (and remained) tyrant on the basis of his ability to win the war against Carthage, the book is full of battles and sieges, as one war follows another. Another element is that Valerio Massimo Manfredi paints a picture of Dionysios which I belikeve to be much more convincing that the one that you find in the historical sources.
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