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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
64
4.7 out of 5 stars


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on 22 January 2012
I went into David Gemmell's The Lion of Macedon off the back of having read his Troy trilogy, eager for more compelling readable, earthy retellings of history that characterise Gemmell's style. In many ways, I enjoyed The Lion of Macedon as much, if not more, than Gemmell's Trojan trilogy, however, there were a couple of points that I didn't enjoy quite so much, but overall in the big picture I would say this was an enjoyable, worthwhile read, that I am probably going to pick up again at some point in the future.

I really enjoyed Gemmell's writing style in the Trojan trilogy, it came across as solid, consistent, and whilst not exactly epic or high-flown, very earthy and grounded and compulsively readable. I liked the style of writing even more so here. It was less of a tale-by-the-fireside and more of a sweeping epic - and I am usually a sucker for books that present me with a well-written sweepingly epic kind of story. Moreover, the writing really sucked me into the story, and engaged me. I felt immersed in this Hellenistic world, and it felt authentic and realistic.

A lot hinged on the portrayal of Parmenion, and Gemmell really got it right. He's just the right mix of identifiably sensible and empathetically good combined with a nice dash of compellingly dark. His character and personality, for me, really seemed to fit believably with the older Parmenion that shows up in the historical record, and as everyone knows that's one of my big ticks in what I look for in historical fiction. It was also a nice bonus that Gemmell tackled Parmenion's early life in this novel, which historically we know virtually nothing about, and I really enjoyed the experience of "uncovering" that tale of the early years. With the other characters too, Gemmell excels. The wonderful thing about Gemmell's characterisations is that nobody seems to be whitewashed or blacklisted, instead we get various shades of grey, and even seemingly unlikable characters are revealed to have their own understandable (albeit not laudable) psychology and logic behind their actions.

What I didn't enjoy so much was the veering off into fantasy. It was just a bit of a head-scratcher really, because the fantastical elements just weren't necessary to the already engrossing and interesting story - it seemed superfluous. However, in the grand scheme of things, this was a minor point.
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2010
Other than his final trilogy about Troy, Lion of Macedon is Gemmell's only full soiree into historical fiction. And it is a tour de force.

Gemmell has a set of stock characters (all of which I love - I don't see this as a negative) but Parmenion, the hero of the Lion of Macedon, isn't one of them. As a young man, he is abused in Sparta for his Macedonian heritage, and the Macedonians don't trust him either. And as we follow him in this book (and in the sequel, Dark Prince) he is an engrossing and entirely likeable hero. As with Gemmell's best writing, Parmenion is thoroughly believable - both as a man, and in his genius as a general.

The book is fantastic, from the iconic opening at the wargames final, I found Parmenion's story hugely emotional and devastatingly exciting. I would recommend it fully to anyone interested in the history - there was definitely enough to keep me interested as Parmenion helped Philip of Macedon begin the story that will lead to Alexander the Great - or the adventure: short of magic, it has all the ingredients of any of Gemmell's novels.

I can recommend this fully as an introduction to anyone who hasn't come across Gemmell before - even if you aren't normally a "fantasy" fan - and to anyone who is a Gemmell-lover, this is one of his best.
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on 19 September 2017
This used to be a 5 star title for me. I love the story, but feel it lacks the depth of other authors I read (Abercrombie etc.). Still massively entertaining if it is a little simplistic.
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on 26 June 2017
Very good, love David Gemmell
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on 30 March 2017
Wonderful author to fire the imagination.
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on 20 July 2004
Having read many other David Gemmell books and a fair few other 'classical era' historical books, I can confidently say that this absolutely combines the best of both worlds, and in many ways beats the historical stories at their own game. The story focuses on the character of Alexander the Great's general Parmenion, who comes from a poor, but noble, family in Sparta where he is the victim of racist abuse and attacks for his foreign mother, to becoming Philip of Macedon's number one general and helping to lay the groundwork for one of the greatest empires of the aincient world.
Unlike the sequel (Dark Prince), Lion of Macedon largely refrains from involving many classical fantasy elements (magic, monsters, etc.) and focuses more on the historical side, which may not please fans of high fantasy, but makes the story that much more captivating. The fantasy element largely manifests itself in fortune-telling and predictions of fate, which don't really play a part in the story until Dark Prince.
Instead, the story is concerned with Parmenion helping Philip's small kingdom - poor, weak and surrounded by powerful enemies - to first survive, and then dominate the rest of Greece in the fascinatingly unstable and war-ravaged world of aincient Greece. Not to mention getting his revenge on the Spartan bigots who bullyed him when he was a child.
Although it isn't Gemmell's best book (everyone has a different favourite, but I would place Bloodstone and Winter Warriors highest), it's certainly up there with his very best, and that makes it one of the best of the best in the genre, and well worth reading if you're a fan of any kind of historical or fantasy fiction.
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on 26 January 1999
This novel is quite probably David Gemmell's finest work to date. The tale itself centres around Parmenion: Lion of Macedon, from 389 - 356BC. As with most (if not all) of Gemmell's books, Lion of Macedon has three winning ingredients: a compelling plot, strong characterisation and pace. In the case of the latter, Lion of Macedon is rich in detail, yet, unlike many of his peers Gemmell does not overface the reader with irrelevancies. This means that the novel's pace never flags - holding readers' interest from the first page to the last. As well as this, the narrative is rich and evocative in a not too dissimilar fashion to Bernard Cornwell and Ross Leckie. This provides the book with believability, which is absolutely essential. As you may have guessed I really liked this novel, and as such would have no hesitation in recommending Lion of Macedon to anyone who has or has not sampled Gemmell's other works. It should also be mentioned that Lion of Macedon has a superb (if not quite so good) sequel entitled Dark Prince.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 June 2011
This book is a personal favourite, it has been a book that has lit the fire or reading in my heart and it has been there ever since, before this title, I was happy to pick up the odd book here and there, but could easily be distracted to other things, since...well my house if full of them.

Most people know this as a fantasy title, but would be surprised to know it started life as a Historical Fiction title, but due to the way publishers don't like their authors crossing genre it was change it to fantasy or release as another Ross Harding title. Lucky for us we got the book we did because it is brilliant.
The characters so real and so lifelike, I doubt anyone could read this book and not feel real emotions as the book progresses.
Gemmell has a way of creating heroes from villains, villains from heroes and a whole lot of grey that we need to decide ourselves, the world is not black and white, but also points out that we all know our own little evils, the things we have done right, a real be true to yourself and treat others as you would like to be treated aspect, but there is no preaching it is just a moral message that pervades this and his other books.

anyone who has read this and read Dark prince will not the heavier fantasy element to Dark Prince, written just for fantasy, and while not the pinnacle of writing that this book is it's still a fantastic read, as are almost all gemmell books

I cannot think of anyone who would not enjoy this book, it really has been great to read and i have read it over a dozen times.
(Parm)
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on 28 April 2000
I am one of those people who must have read this book when it first came out quite a few years ago now.In my book case I have hundreds of fantasy fiction books by all the main genre authors. The Lion of Macedon is extremly dog-eared and tattered, half the front cover is missing and a few pages are loose, but I will never get rid of it.This book really gave me a great insight into the history of this time and made me want to read more about the period. If you like a great story, a bit of history and some magic you will love this book!I take this book on holiday with me every year and each time it is just as good. When it finally falls apart I will HAVE to buy a new one!
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on 16 April 2000
Gemmell's expertise in fantasy fiction writing shines through yet again. I first read this book in H/B whilst it was still on the shelf at Smiths. I could not afford it at the time and it was too long to wait for a P/B edition. He has mastered yet another era in Ancient History and tailor made it to his own imagination. Full of Heroic fantasy good V evil scenario, epic battle discriptives and a wealth of characters. Some so deep it was hard not to feel for them when they expired. I have read all of DG's books and have as yet never encountered a poorly written novel. I have only discovered one other book by DG better than this one, it was Morningstar, also written By David Gemmell.
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