Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
on 5 February 2012
This has to be Cameron's most ambitious and complete work to date! A monster of a book. The complete life of Alexander all in one volume! (Praise to be Ares, Aphrodite and Herakles no need to wait 5 years and as many volumes to find out what the heck happens!)
As with current fashion at the moment the story of the man of legend is told from the perspective of a close friend, in this case Ptolemy. Ptolemy also provides a link to the Tyrant series which many potential readers will have already read. This book however, I have to say is a step up in class from the later books of that series. Why? well I'll tell you!
Firstly the main hero Ptolemy was perfectly drawn. I have always felt Cameron has been inclined to over egg the hero pudding. A bit like Wilbur Smith's Courtneys they tend to be invariably handsome, noble, brave, dripping in stunning women and beloved by all they meet. All very well if your Sean Connery in Diamonds are for Ever but used to annoy me in an otherwise gritty historical tale. Cameron's Ptolemy (to get back to the praise I was about to lavish) is a flawed and fallible being. Yes he's brave and tough, you didn't earn a place at Alexanders table and then a Kingdom if you weren't! But he is also subject to doubts and the odd failures and has a big nose! (know that feeling). He is at once both in awe and appalled by his King and was a character I felt immediatly at ease with.
Secondly the pacing was nicely balanced between action and detail. So that I had that 'immersed' feeling in the world of the Hellenic period but never had to wait long for the next spear thrust!
And Thirdly Cameron managed to weave an actual story from what is essentially an endless military campaign. Unlike Caesar there is no Cleopatra or Pompey to provide a lover and nemesis. Alexander conquered the Greek world turned right and kept going till he pretty much dropped down dead!
And for all Ptolemy's appeal as a hero this is the story of Alexander perhaps the first worlds first 'Great' Tyrant. And what a portrayal! Cameron acknowledges in his notes that the record keeping was sketchy at best which then gives an academic historian writer like Cameron full licence to draw the Alexander he imagined. And Cameron's Alexander is a character I could really believe in. Heroic yet boastful, self absorbed yet capable of huge self sacrifice. Camerons paints an almost bi-polar figure only truly alive and happy when at war. Camerons gives us the warts and all version, fully illustrating the horrors of campaign, some of the atrocities he commited and his, at times, staggering disregard for life.
Before I round off the review, fans of the early Tyrant books get to be at Kineas' side again as we see him as a serving Athenian cavalry officer before the events of the original 'Tyrant' book.
When Cameron puts his heart and soul into these Hoplite classic's he is a hard man to best! I loved this book and I am happy to award it a gold wreath and of course the full 5 stars and if he's reading this what about a Spartan tale for the next project?