on 3 October 2010
This is the third book by Jo Graham and is as excellent as 'Black Ships" and "Hand of Isis". I finished reading it last night and now feel both sad and elated. What a wonderful writer she is, able to transport the reader into a world of heros we know about and those she creates. The fact that the gods sometimes speak and are involved with the characters may seem strange but, as in the other books, it works and actually enhances the narrative.
The world of Alexander the Great was a passionate and violent one and Miss Graham conveys the essence of this in a laudable way. The book deals with the chaotic aftermath of Alexanders death, the struggle both mental and physical that it caused in his friends and the eventual acceptance of destiny.
Ptolemy inherits Egypt and reluctantly accepts the crown of Pharaoh, thus founding the dynasty that gave Cleopatra to the world. The melding of two empires,one in upheaval and conflict after Alexanders death and one now in the last phase of its incredible history gives the reader a vision of a world lost, one that Miss Graham brings to life in a haunting and exceptional way.
The content is both mystical and fact, the characters come to life and you feel their emotional journey as your own,the loneliness of Lydias, the love and ache of Bagoas and the strength of Ptolemy. Read this book and you will travel with them, it will stay with you and echo in your own life, you will want more.
on 21 June 2010
There are many fine books dealing with Alexander the Great's conquests and early death. There are many fine books dealing with Cleopatra and the final Roman conquest of Egypt/end of the Ptolomies. These include Jo Graham's own wonderful 'Hand of Isis'. There are far fewer that cover the equally fascinating start of Ptolomaic Egypt and the aftermath of Alexander's death and the fragmentation of his empire and fewer still who do it so well.
Looking for good human drama? You have the rise of a slave boy to one of Alexander's Companion Cavalry, who finds love and loss with with both genders and has to find reasons to start again after terrible losses. You have a devoted brother who has to salvage a nation as well as find his patrimony. A woman who can only keep her freedom by operating in a system which denies her much and threatens her daughter.
Looking for the sweep of history? We go from the Greek cities of Asia Minor through the epic battles and terrible marches. Most importantly we see the start, literally from the ground up of the multi-cultural city of Alexandria - a city built as much by the women of so many nations of the baggage train as the men of Macedonia, Persia, India...
Looking for a rattling good yarn? It don't get much bigger than stealing the body of the conqueror, carving out a stable kingdom from chaos with battles that not only include elephants but also crocodiles.
Fascinated by the gods and myths of the period? They live, walk and ask the characters to do their duty and make the choices to save their nation from the unleashed chaos?
Want a book that reads like a great standalone of your favourite show? The characters live in a reincarnation universe. If you've read [info]jo_graham's previous Black Ship's and Hand of Isis, you've met many of these souls before. Choices and promises made in one book affect subsequent lives and relationships, so you get the benefit of the meaty longer arc yet without sacrificing the readability of each separate book, all of which can be read separately and on their own highly enjoyable merits.
Craving a book where the characters not only have emotional and sexual relationships with the same as well as the opposite sex? Canon threesome in Hand of Isis. Stealing Fire - Canon m/m's not only with Alexander but Hephaestion, Bagoas and our protagonist.
Wish more authors had strong women characters who are still believably of the period. Following up from the three women protagonists of Hand of Isis and first person oracle protagonist of Black Ships, we have Thais - the woman who burnt Persepolis.
Looking for cross-culture stories? We have a Persian Eunuch not only having to start again as no longer the pretty boy favourite in a culture with two gender models not three. Our main characters are not only different variety of Greeks, there's Persians, Indians, Central Asians and the Egyptians they join up with to found the Ptolomaic fusion.
I'd heartily rec all three books in Jo Graham's Numinious World, but Stealing Fire really is something special. Run, do not walk to read this.