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Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars

on 18 February 2005
As with all Massimo Manfredi books, you'll find this a grasping adventure. Not as good as other titles such as the Alexander trilogy or The Last Legion, it manages to transport you back in time so you actually feel what the characters are going through. The language used also helps in this as you don't get slang words or phrases that Greeks of that era would not use.
Being as well a political book with insight into different political systems, with their advocates and adversaries, this adventure will keep you entertained while teaching you about well researched ancient history.
Look at the maps as you go along, especially the battle ones to have a better understanding of what's going on.
A very good buy indeed.
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VINE VOICEon 22 October 2008
Manfredi is on safe ground here doing what he does best. This time for Dionysis, who for me was a new historical charachter (although I knew the name). Manfredi delivers another epic page turner, a must for historical fiction fans!
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on 19 November 2014
This is one of the best books ive ever read valerio massimo manfredi at his absolute best a must read have i done twenty words now.
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on 10 February 2006
an excellent portrayal of politics both ancient and modern. Dictatoriships arn't necessarily evil and can often work better than democraces in doing the best thing for the nation (or city state). It's about when people started looking at holes in democraces and this book provides ample evidence. A great story looking at the man who invented the catapault and ballitsae (that's a fact with the book btw) a very good read and worth 5 stars though i would agree not his best but a worthy read.
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on 10 June 2007
I have read two other Manfredi books besides this one and they all share one characteristic, to one degree or another. There are too many instances where the English used just isn't, well . . . "right". Either the word is wrong or the phrasing of the sentence is stiff and awkward. I assume that English is the author's second language (Italian being the first) and that everything he writes goes through an editor. Or maybe he dictates in Italian and it is then translated? Whichever, the instances are often and jarring enough that they become a distraction. How much of an editor would it take to prevent assaulting the reader with something like "they refurbished their water supply"? Add to this the tendency to make most of the characters sound like Homeric translations and I find Manfredi quite tiring.
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on 24 June 2011
With any novel centred on a historical figure it can be expected that a more human, sympathetic picture of that person should emerge. Here we get some of that treatment as we see the descent of a young idealist into a merciless despot.
However, I couldn't help but feel I was reading the story of Dionysius written by Dionysius. Almost everything about his character was lionized, his failings are hardly mentioned and the author or protagonist is always quick to excuse them as necessary of the fault of others. This contrasts with the detail with which he describes the atrocities and stupidity of his enemies and how they brought destruction upon themselves. Sometimes it can be downright hypocritical. At one battle an opponent of Dionysius is criticised for leading his men into a trap, but the same general is later condemned for doing exactly the opposite and holding his men back. The correctness of a decision seems to rest upon who makes it, not its intentions or consequences.
I wouldn't mind this bias except that it does not allow for an interesting story. We see little conflict between major characters, which are usually under-developed and two-dimensional. The book is therefore reliant on the events themselves being interesting. This is usually the case apart from some painfully forced expositions that slow them down, mostly in the form of clunky, awkward dialogue which would not seem out of place in a non-fiction history book.
Overall it's a nice book if you want a more personal view of ancient history, but not if you're looking for engaging characters or a strong human narrative.
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on 29 December 2005
Great. This book kept me interested and had some concrete insights into why dreams die with the dreamer. In the case of the Tyrant of Syracuse, the father, because of who he was had no worthy son to carry on his dream. Because of this development (reminded me of the portrayal of the weak son of Edward from Braveheart), the Tyrant was pressured to act in ways that might otherwise be hard to understand. This book proposes a believable psyche that helps explain this beautiful nugget of history and the incredible mixture of triumph and frustration that followed the King of Syracuse. The only two items I would have enjoyed had they been present was a bit more detail on the arms, weaponry, and tactics - they were covered well but my personal likes lean more toward greater detail. I also would have liked some more insight into the Tyrants literary efforts - I cannot find a translation of the work of this warrior-poet-king.
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on 23 March 2007
When I started reading this one day on the bus I got so absorbed by the story that I missed my stop. The early parts of the book, with the story of how Dionysius' character was formed and almost elegiac descriptions of the doomed Greek colonies of western Sicily awaiting their destruction at the hands of the Carthaginians, are very good indeed. But like others I felt that the later sections, which are much more episodic with large stretches of time between them going undescribed, were less enthralling. And I too found the ending very abrupt and so somewhat disappointing. Still, a good read and I'm glad I read it.
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on 30 July 2015
a very good read
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on 3 December 2015
rated author
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