A well-born officer of Athenian cavalry, Kineas fought shoulder to shoulder with Alexander in his epic battles against the Persian hordes. But when he returns to his native city, he finds not glory but ignominy, as all veterans of the Boy King's campaigns are sent into exile. With nothing to his name but his military skills, Kineas has no choice but to become a mercenary, and soon accepts a commission to soldier for the Tyrant of Olbia, a wealthy city on the Black Sea. But when he reaches Olbia he finds he and his tight-knit band of Athenians have stumbled into a deadly maze of intrigue and conspiracy as the Tyrant plots to use them as a pawn in the increasingly complex power games between his own citizens, the so-called barbarians of the encroaching Scythian plains, and the dread military might of Macedon. Caught between his duty to the Tyrant, his loyalty to his men and a forbidden love affair with a charismatic Scythian noblewoman, Kineas must call on all his Athenian guile, his flair on the battlefield, and even - he is convinced - the intervention of the gods, to survive.
Christian Cameron was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa,Christian Cameron and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.
After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age four. And a half.
[Read in Spanish] -- [Reseña en español más abajo]
I really enjoyed the story as well as the characters here. Kineas is a brave human being who travels around many places trying to achieve his goal, which makes that he as a general, does get recognition as such. A character that maybe at the beginning of the book was not valued for what he did, but as the book goes on, all his achievements were recognized. All this wouldn't have been possible without his friend's help, but at the end that's the story. Even though one person takes all the credit, there are others behind that make each achievement possible. I really liked the characters and now I will see how the second part is.
Disfruté mucho la historia tanto así como los personajes de ésta. Kineas es un ser valiente que viaja por muchos lugares tratando de alcanzar su meta, lo cual hace que él como general, sea reconocido como tal. Un personaje que quizás al principio del libro no era valorado por sus méritos, pero conforme iba avanzando el libro, todos sus logros fueron reconocidos. Todo esto no habría sido posible sin la ayuda de sus camaradas, claro está, pero al final la historia es así; aunque una sola persona se lleve todo el crédito, detrás hay otros colaboradores que hacen cada hazaña también posible. Me gustaron mucho los personajes, ahora veré qué tal es la segunda parte.
I bought this book when it came out in 2008. It's the story of my life that I buy more books than I can read, and it languished in the 'To Be Read' pile for 4 years. More and more people began to tell me how good an author Cameron was, however, so I tackled it in the summer of 2012. I was astonished by how good it was, and devoured it in 3 or 4 days. To say that it's well written is an understatement of the greatest kind.
Cameron is a reenactor, and has therefore spent many an hour, and day, wearing and using the kit of a Greek soldier of the 4th century BC. He's also spent considerable time learning ancient Greek, and reading all the sources that he can lay his hands on. Boy, does it show. Kineas, the main character, reeks of authenticity. So too do the people he encounters: his friends and enemies, and the world that they all inhabit.
Rarely have I been so transported to another place, another world. I lived with Kineas and his comrades for every moment that I read this book. I could not wait to buy the sequel, and over the last 12 months, I have read three of the four others in the series. It's a benefit of not having read them as they were published, I suppose, but I will be sorry to come to the end of Tyrant: Destroyer Of Cities. At least I will have the Long War series to read then, however!
If you haven't read any of Cameron's books, I suggest that you start now. He stands head and shoulders above most authors out there, and is now one of my favourite writers. If I could award this book more than five stars, I would.
Kineas is an Athenian mercenary back from fighting with Alexander in Asia Minor and Persia. He is hired by the Tyrant of Olbia, a city on the Black Sea. On the surface it looks as if he is to train the city's cavalry to better defend against the Steppe nomads. Instead, Kineas and his companions find themselves webbed in a net of plots where their fate is poised on the edge as they cope with treachery in Olbia and an invasion of a Macedonian army.
This book started out too slowly for my taste. I think this is a trait of the author. I've read a number of his books and more than a few feel this way. Part of this, I think, is the author's dedication to immersion and authenticity. He wants his readers to experience the world of Alexander and the Greeks (or whatever he is writing about). When Kineas treks north out of the Greek lands, across Thrace, over the Danube, and finally makes it to Olbia, he wanted his reader to understand just what an epic trek that was. It was a long, arduous journey filled with danger - not a jaunt down the highway. I like the immersion, but it makes for a longer story - and it's very different from more action oriented historical fiction of Cornwell and Scarrow. It requires a bit more of a commitment from the reader.
The author also included a "what is it all for" moment in the book that I thought was well done. Kineas, Ajax, Philokles, and the other companions are seated around a fire after the younger Olbian's first blooding, and they discuss the meaning of the contest. It was a nice touch, and I don't think he was projecting today's morality on a pre-modern world. I suspect men (and women) of any era who face the horror of savage combat (and it was incredibly savage - hand-to-hand, face-to-face) wonder if it is worth it. It adds to the overall immersion.
Three and a half stars rounded down to three. I like the immersion and realism. The final battle was truly epic. I didn't really care for the mystic side of things - Kineas' dreams and Kam Bacqa (?). I don't want magic in my historical fiction. Mysticism, sure; magic, no. I thought the book crossed a line there. Also, the relationship with the Scythian woman seemed a bit unreal to me.
Me gusta la novela histórica, en especial la militar y por ese motivo esta lectura llevaba años llamándome la atención. La trama nos sitúa en un escenario bastante interesante, un grupo de mercenarios griegos que han luchado para Alejandro, se encuentran desterrados de sus hogares y con la cuasi obligación de seguir luchando para ganarse el sustento. Acaban en una de las muchas ciudades estado de la época, la cual está dirigida por un tirano con muchos enemigos en la misma ciudad y sobre la que se avecina una gran guerra.
Hasta aquí todo luce bien, el problema es que a partir de ese momento lo que nos cuenta Cameron sobre esta ciudad estado y los protagonistas de la trama es poco interesante. No es que sean malos personajes ni la historia este mal construida, pero es que no tiene nada que la haga sobresalir, es una más entre los cientos de novelas de este estilo.
Y aunque como digo todos los elementos cumplen, el resultado final queda un poco insípido, al menos para mi gusto. Mis valoraciones siempre son subjetivas, pero en este caso igual lo es más, ya que por calidad y demás, el conjunto podría haberse llevado una 4 estrella sin problema, pero es que no me ha terminado de enganchar del todo.
Very entertaining novel set on the Black Sea cca 330 BC; it is less of a "blood and guts" novel than I expected though it has its fair share of battles, but it has intrigue, strange cultures, discussions on the nature and meaning of war and it reads very "classical", no real discordant (ie modern sensibility) notes that are encountered so often in historical fiction today.
Bought and started to read the sequel too and book 3 is an asap when it will be published; I plan to do a full review of the series in early 2010, but for now I have to say it is one of the superior novels in the sub-genre
It's all the indication you need of your feelings on a book when you have to repeatedly convince yourself to cast your apathy aside and continue reading.
This is very much a soldiers book, or more specifically an officers book. By that, I mean it feels very much written by a former soldier for soldiers and anyone else will just have toe the line. Normally this approach can sometimes work, if the characterisation is rich enough to make you see each character as a real human being first and a soldier second, as in say Anthony Riches' books. In this book however, and from what I've seen of Cameron's work , in his other books too, the emphasis is very much more on the structured regimental aspect of life, often at the cost of the human side. It's this lack of depth to human side of the characterisation that leaves you apathetic to what happens to any of the characters. Strangely, a number of the barbarians/slaves seem to talk either like Borat or like some strange Yosemite Sam style prospector....
Another way in which the potential of this book is stifled is the logistical side. The author has a seeming love of using obscure terms that you are just automatically assumed to know. The glossary only serves the bare minimum and doesn't cover the majority of the random terms the author smugly inserts every so often for no reason. On top of which there are no maps or information, beyond the authors note right at the end of the book, on the land in which the main story takes place. In a book where the location & geography are fairly important and there is a key siege at the hub of the story, this is a sad oversight.
I've heard numerous positive things around this series and author from various other lovers of historical fiction, but frankly, his other books will have to seriously up their game for me to try again.
Christian Cameron sabe mezclar en su justa medida la información rigurosa sobre la época con la acción y aventura que hacen progresar a la historia y enganchar al lector. Nada especial que no encontremos en otras obras similares, una prosa sencilla, pero que cumple con el objetivo, unos personajes interesantes, que podrían estar más desarrollado pero que también llenan con suficiencia la novela, una historia clásica, sin muchas sorpresas y unas batallas muy bien descritas. Todo ello hace que entretenga y te den ganas de leer el resto de las obras de este ciclo.
Christian Cameron took a novel approach with Tyrant; it is set during the reign of Alexander the Great, but the focus is elsewhere. Instead of narrowing in on the “big events” of the period, Cameron decided to show some of the other things going on while Alexander was conquering Asia. I enjoyed this different perspective.
For a protagonist, Cameron chose, or rather created, Kineas, an Athenian cavalry officer. This was a great way to tell this story. The readers don’t come into Tyrant with a “he never did that mentality,” but rather this is just another story in an easily forgotten part of the ancient Greek world by a figure who slipped through the cracks. The need to be historically accurate is no longer there; Cameron can do what he wants to whomever he wants and can avoid criticism over accuracy, as if an author writing fiction is obliged to be completely accurate.
Cameron wrote a fun story; it was easy to picture myself riding through the open grasslands with Kineas and his merry men (sorry, wrong story but the feeling was there). I always love it when the author can pull me into his or her story. There was the full gamut moving the plot along, with some great comic relief and a bit of a love story along the way for good measure.
Now, Tyrant is book one in a substantial series, six books in all. This has left me with a couple of questions: Does Tyrant stand alone without more story? Do I feel the necessity to move on with Kineas’ story? Thankfully, Tyrant can stand alone. The story is complete, and I appreciate that. Tyrant left me with some interest to follow Kineas, but not a need to do it. There are a few other book ones that I’ve read where I would go to book two before Tyrant.
All in all, Tyrant was an enjoyable story. I appreciate what Cameron did, I had a fun time with the cast of characters, but it did not leave me longing for more.
Kineas adalah prajurit yg hebat dari pasukan Alexander Yang Agung. Krn kecelakaan, dia mengundurkan diri dan menyeberang ke kota Olbia. Disana, Kineas direkrut utk melatih pasukan sang Tiran, penguasa kota tsb. Kineas sukses mengkonsolidasi kekuatan pasukannya dibantu oleh rekan-rekannya yg super cakap dan kompeten. Dan puncaknya Kineas berhasil menghabisi pasukan Makedonia yg dipimpin Zopryon.
Buku ini lumayan bagus dari sisi taktik dan strategi peperangannya. Kita terbawa dlm suasana peperangan pd zaman Hellenistik ini. Kota Olbia juga tampak seperti kota metropolis pd era tsb. Kesusastraan Illiad ataupun Saga Perang Troya, filsuf-filsuf ternama spt Sokrates, Plato dan Aristoteles tampak sangat berpengaruh di buku ini.
Sayangnya, gaya tutur bahasa dlm buku ini sangat puitis tingkat dewa. Banyak kalimat-kalimat terselubung sehingga nyaris saya tidak bisa intertwine dan hampir amnesia dgn nama-nama tokoh di buku ini. Suku-suku yg bertebaran di buku ini memang memberi warna tetapi juga menyebabkan kurang fokus utk menitikberatkan ceritanya. Begitu pula soal kasmarannya dgn Srayanka, wanita jagoan yg juga disukai oleh raja. Andai buku ini digambarkan lebih intens ttg jatuh bangunnya Kineas dlm membangun pasukan, pasti akan lebih realistis. Penggambaran yg saya tangkap, walau awalnya Kineas agak kesulitan, saya merasa perjuangan Kineas terlalu agak mulus (tidak ada pengkhianatan atau pemberontakan yg signifikan dlm pasukannya).
Saran saya, jika ingin mencoba buku ini, pastikan Anda menyukai gaya bahasa puitis ala Yunani Kuno ini. Catat baik-baik nama-nama tokoh (lumayan banyak nama tokoh2 si buku ini) dan suku-sukunya. Selamat membaca.
VERDICT: Worth it? YES As good as historical fiction gets. I know a lot more about Scythians, for an example, than I would have just reading a textbook. The author makes them real.
3 CONS: 1. The end felt a bit rushed. Some things not tied off.. looking forward to book 2 2. As others have said, the names get confusing as there are many, they are foreign to most readers, and some of the fodder characters aren't very flushed out. 3. More interaction between characters other than the protagonist would have added a lot.
3 PROS: 1. Battle scenes were unbelievably well thought out and exciting. This guy has done his research! 2. Many well rounded and interesting characters 3. The book will have you coming back to find out what happens next - no doubt there
I'm a sucker for ancient history, especially around the Mediterranean, so yeah. The author seems to have done some solid research on the Greeks and neighboring cultures of that time, and it shows. I'm a total fanboy for the Greeks but the depiction of the 'barbarian' nomadic tribes was just as interesting and cool, especially the role of women like Srayanka and of shamanic beliefs. Oh yeah, and it was a solid story that held my attention. I think I read all three books of the trilogy one after the other.
This story started interesting and was so throughout. There was not always fighting but still it kept you glued to the book. I liked the characters very much. The thing that I didn't like was in the second part of the book when there I almost too much tactical stuff. I get tired of that quickly and in the end it annoyed me a bit. The story otherwise is very thrilling. I didn't know about the greek mercenaries and how even war heroes were exiled. This was entertaining enough but could have been better even.
This book took me a really long time to get into. It wasn't until about half-way that I really started liking it. Up to that point it was OK; I kept reading more because of the subject matter of a time period that really interests me. In the end, I stuck to it until the end and I'm glad I did. So, I liked it but not enough to give it more than 3 stars.
Tengo sensaciones encontradas con este libro, por un lado tenia puestas unas expectativas que al final no se han cumplido y por otro el final es esplendido. Excepto por el final, el libro me ha parecido algo lento en su desarrollo. Me quedo con la narrativa española de Postreguillo, o con Steven Pressfield. de todas formas leere los siguientes para ver si va mejorando con el paso de los libros
For six years, Kineas, an Athenian aristocrat, had fought alongside the boy king, Alexander, as one of his most valorous officers as they made their way through the Persian Empire; but after he was dismissed, his skills no longer needed, he returned back home to Athens only to find exile.
Yet, with nothing left in his name but his military reputation, when he accepts a proposition from the Archon of Olbia, agreeing to travel with his veterans to the city and to train its cavalry, he and his men will find themselves soon enough entangled between a tyrant's schemes, a barbarian tribe and the might of Macedon...
Tyrant is the first book in the series of the same name and takes place in the city of Olbia, a Greek trading centre on the Euxine (today's Black Sea) during the time of Macedon's dominion, and their dealings with Scythian tribes.
Although mainly a military adventure, the book focuses on the bond between brothers-in-arms, as Christian Cameron – he himself a military veteran – explores the machinery of war: glory, honour and virtue, as well as the culture of the time (from politics to philosophy to sports), and setting it all up in a corner of an ancient world which – blending fiction with history – makes the story not only gripping and engaging, but also vivid and vibrant as if it was real.
Bloodthirsty, atmospheric and impressive I was astonished by how spectacular Tyrant was.
Christian Cameron’s series begins with book one Tyrant, about a well-born officer of the Athenian cavalry called Kineas. Kineas fought shoulder to shoulder with Alexander in his epic battles against the Persian hordes, but when he returns to his native city he soon finds not glory but ignominy. All veterans of the Boy King's campaigns have been sent into exile. With nothing to his name but his military skills, Kineas has no choice but to become a mercenary and soon accepts a commission to soldier for the Tyrant of Olbia (a wealthy city on the Black Sea). But when he reaches Olbia he finds that he and his tight-knit band of Athenians have stumbled into a deadly maze of intrigue and conspiracy, as the Tyrant plots to use them as a pawn in the increasingly complex power games between his own citizens; the so-called barbarians of the encroaching Scythian plains and the dread military might of Macedon. Caught between his duty to the Tyrant, his loyalty to his men and a forbidden love affair with a charismatic Scythian noblewoman, Kineas must call on all his Athenian guile and his flair on the battlefield, and even - he is convinced - the intervention of the gods, to survive.
Kineas of Athens is a character based loosely on Plutarch’s Phocion, with some input from G.T. Griffith’s comments on Leosthenes of Athens that makes him so realistic and beliveable. Raised like any gentleman in Athens, Kineas learned to farm and to ride from a young age, took part in athletics, hunted rabbits with his father’s friends, failed to qualify for the Olympics as a boxer, and studied at the Academy first under Plato himself (until 347 BC) and then under his nephew Speusippus. Another main character is Srayanka (Cruel Hands) who is based loosely on a number of artistic and literary depictions of Scythian women in contact with Greek society, most particularly with the character of Medea in Euripides play of that name. She is a war leader and a priestess, two roles that could be combined in Scythian society, and whatever her sexuality, she has chosen to remain a warrior.
This book has to be one of the most thrilling, intensly gripping and exciting reads of its genre, that totally shocked me from the moment that I opened the first page. With the noticable cover leaving me feeling slightly unsure of whether to read this or not, I tentively took the bold step of reading a few pages and never looked back! I lost myself within a bloodthirsty saga full of social hieracy, intregues and plotting, epic battle scenes and just a vivid look of what it would have been like at that time. I love Rome and stories that encompass all the might and magnificence of the time, with Christian Cameron as an author at the very top of my list, next to other great writers such as Conn Iggulden or Steven Saylor. I was just so overwhelmed and impressed by this tale that really did think (from reading the blurb and observing the cover) was not for me, so to be proved so wrong and my judgement poor was a treat and a delight. It was about fighting and honor, loyalty and bravery with such remarkable and interesting characters as to make the plot even more intreguing, as you are sent back in time to one of the greatest ages within history. I loved Kineas and his struggle to overcome all the setbacks and dificulties that came his way, whilst remaining loyal to those he trusted and true to those indaviduals he loved. I am now a huge fan and aficionardo of Christian Cameron and very much look forward to reading the other three installments within this magnificent and mighty series, which I urge you to read. It is AMAZING!
Being a great fan for some time of the "Killer of Men/Long War" series, I've decided to give the "Tyrant" series a go as well, and this book Tyrant has certainly thrilled me to bits. Just like the "Killer of Men" series the storytelling is of an absolute top-quality, and thus bringing vividly to life the Ancient Greeks within this wonderful book. As far as possible the book has been thoroughly researched historically, and the details provided in this book are of a very clear definition. The book starts off in the year 333 BC when Kineas and his Athenian Cavalry comrades are leaving Alexander the Great's army after a hard fought battle against the Persians, and so finally they are going back home to Athens. Once there Kineas finds out that his father is dead and he himself has been exiled for serving, as an Athenian, Alexander the Great Macedonian army, and he will finally end up along with some of his Athenian veterans on the Euxine, in Olbia to be exact. In Olbia Kineas and his Athenians are hired by the Tyrant to train the city's elite cavalry, only to find out soon enough that they are being used as pawns in the Tyrant's schemes, and so after first fighting with the Macedonians, Kineas now has to fight with Olbia and their unpredictable Scythian allies against the might of Macedon, for gold and grain. What will unfold is a thrilling and gripping story which keeps you spellbound from start to finish, and with great interaction and with hard fought battle scenes in which Kineas and his allies have to fight for their lives against the mighty Macedonians in a Greek world in turmoil. Fully recommended, because this book of this particular series is "A Marvellous Opener"!
Kineas adalah seorang kapten tentara bayaran. Dari luar dia tampak kasar, garang, dan punya mulut sadis. Tapi dia juga punya darah ningrat yang membuatnya cukup luwes menghadapi intrik halus. Satu hal yang membuatku tertarik pada kepribadiannya adalah kemampuannya "menyentuh" tiap manusia yang muncul dalam kehidupannya dan meraih kesetiaan mereka. Interaksi Kineas dan para anggota pasukannya selalu menarik untuk di simak. Interaksinya dengan wakilnya Niceas dan mata-mata Spartanya, caranya menghadapi budaknya yang memberontak Crax, sampai bagaimana dia bisa melihat potensi dan mengangkat derajat si gelandangan Ataelus.
Buku ini mungkin sebagian besar fiksi dengan background sejarah era 333SM. Tapi selain kompleksnya kepribadian hero utama buku ini, aku juga tertarik pada storyline yang mengalir dari petualangan militernya, strategi perang canggih yang Kineas tunjukan, intrik politik, sejarah klasik yang menjadi background kisah ini, dan tak lupa filosofi perang yang di sisipkan dengan cerdas. Adegan-adegan perang di sini sangat detail dan bisa di bayangkan secara nyata.
Aku kurang menyukai beberapa bagian mimpi mistis dan unsur shamanisme di sini. Sisi itu nampak bertolak belakang dengan sisi buku ini yang lebih realistik. Ada bibit romance yang menjanjikan di sini dengan seorang gadis kepala suku liar yang bak putri Amazon, Srayanka. Selain minor di atas, aku sangat menyukai buku ini. Kisah pertama dari seri ini sangat menjanjikan bila dirimu menyukai fiksi militer dengan latar belakang sejarah yang kental.
Kineas, Ajax, Crax, Diodorus, and Niceas left their kingdom in Athens because they thought that someone from another kingdom poisoned their king. When they arrived they found out who might have poisoned their king. When the kingdom found out that they were from there kingdom who was their enemy. So they were chased out of the kingdom and went to the other kingdom. They headed through the mountains to the man who poisoned their king. It was getting dark so they camped out on a cliff. While sleeping Kineas was screaming in his sleep which almost gave away their position. They found the killer of their king in their own kingdom. It’s been about three weeks since they got vengeance for their king. Now they have a new king and everything is back to normal. The kingdom is having more parties than they used to. The new king asked Kineas to go around and put together an army. Kineas wondered way but did not argue.Once they got their army together they had to fight the Persians. The battle was gruesome and intense. After the battle the kingdom was a disaster but the people still partied. Kineas finally found the love of his dreams. Everyone else went on with their life.
c2008:FWFTB: heroism, Persia, cavalry, mercenaries, Scythian. Extraordinarily well written battle scenes. I felt, at times, that I was watching a movie rather than reading a book. Some really stirring passages and characters and Kineas is now a firm favourite. But, where was a map and a glossary, when I needed it? Not only has this book whetted my appetite for the next one in the series but I have been spurred on to do some further investigation on the period and places of the era (ie 333BC). Even better, Mr Cameron has a connection to Iowa City Go Hawks Loved it and highly recommended to the normal crew. FCN: Kineas, Ataelus, Ajax, Philokles, Diodorus. "Kineas had his breast and back plate fastened, his helmet locked and the hinged cheek pieces down, and was trying to get control of his charger, who was not having any of it."
Tyrant was a surprisingly good historical novel about the ancient world, which was gripping and historically interesting. I have not read much historical fiction set in ancient Greece and so this novel was pleasantly different. The battle sequences were exciting, vivid, and interesting. The author did a good job at weaving tragedy, triumph, happiness, and friendship together with the interesting setting and well-developed characters. A excellent novel, and one that makes me look forward to reading the sequel.
To me a piece of fine historical fiction. Great detail, a touch of fantasy, and vivid description of the battles. But it lacks a bit in the character development area, and the rythm was not of my liking. I would have definitely liked it better if it was a bit longer, as it has a three month jump to a fast conclusion at the end. Also I kind of hoped for a shocking gay love scene that never came.
I have just discovered Christian Cameron and can't believe I didn't know about him before this. Tyrant is superbly crafted, perfectly researched with well drawn characters that I really cared about.I read it in two evenings – it's the sort of book you just can't put down even when it's after midnight.
This book brought the 4th century BC Scythians alive in my mind. Sort of like an advanced Native American Plains Culture, one that allowed women to become warriors and chiefs. The depiction of the Euxine Greeks, and their Sythian allies, standing against the Macedonian conquest,was unique.
I stumbled into this six-book series by way of one of my favorite recent fantasy series, the Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron. I noticed that, for some unknown reason, Cameron also wrote under the name of Christian Cameron, and had a series set in the time of Alexander the Great.
As one who knows way too much about that Hellenistic time period, and one who loved Cameron’s previous work, I was all in from the moment I started volume one, Tyrant. And as this is a connected series that really needs to be read in order to be appreciated, this review is of all six books considered as a whole, rather than a review of each book (though parenthetical notes will be appended for each).
The story covers about 30 years of ancient history, ending in 301 BCE at the Battle of Ipsos. Now if you already know who won the Battle of Ipsos, you will be a little too far ahead of the game, for much of the suspense of the series (which includes other historical events) will be lost – and you will also be surprised by some revisions Cameron makes in order to tell the story the way he wants to.
But the basic premise is this: Cameron inserts fictional, high-ranking characters into the complicated weave of Hellenistic history, and has them participate in events both major and minor. For the most part, this works extremely well, as Cameron’s grasp of the minutiae of Hellenistic life and his gritty sense of the bloody, painful and horrific cost of ancient warfare is superb. He is also an excellent writer, so the story moves along at a brisk pace, flagging only momentarily in the later volumes.
There are issues, of course. Like Star Trek, Kineas and Satyrus, the two main protagonists, are in the front lines way too often to be believed, especially in the later books, and their interactions with the major historical figures seem unnecessary, as if the editors insisted that somehow Kineas and Alexander are in contact, and so are Satyrus and various Hellenistic leaders.
Cameron, though, is perfectly willing to kill off major characters, and in sudden and unexpected ways, which adds a tremendous amount of tension to battle scenes and assassination attempts (unlike Star Trek). There’s also some magical realism thrown in, but any attempt to explain the plot would require much more patience than any reader of this review is likely to have.
But in short, Kineas, Satyrus and his woefully underutilized twin sister Melitta (why wasn’t she more prominent in the narrative?), all represent what we now consider Southern Russia, at the north of what we call the Black Sea. In those times, it was the place where the steppe nomads and expanding population of farmers and colonizers crossed paths, and it became a crucial part of the Hellenistic game of thrones given its ability to produce grain that the Mediterranean cities desperately needed to feed their people.
So Cameron tosses these characters, their soldiers and their grain into the Hellenistic mix, and in the end, comes up with a wonderful series that I enjoyed from start to finish. Then again, I love excellent historical fiction, and this is my favorite period, so I’m hardly unbiased. But I will say this: If you have even a passing interest in the world of Alexander the Great after his death, the Tyrant series is for you. I just wish there were more than six volumes.
* * * * *
This first volume is especially good because Cameron does a great job of creating a fictional dream of Hellenistic times. His grasp of detail, his strong characters and the sheer pleasure of discovering the series makes it perhaps the best.
Which is a long way of saying if you don't like "Tyrant," go no further.
He llegado a esta novela preguntando en un foro por novelas históricas ambientadas en el conflicto de los Diádocos tras la muerte de Alejandro Magno. Alguien me recomendó esta saga de seis libros así que la tenía en el punto de mira hace un tiempo.
Y lo cierto es que sí, está ambientada en tiempos de Alejandro Magno. Kineas, el protagonista, es un oficial de caballería de las tropas de Alejandro que acaba desterrado y trabajando como mercenario para los escitas al norte del mar Negro. Y tendrá que enfrentarse a su antiguo ejército cuando Macedonia pretende conquistar las tierras del tirano que le ha contratado. Pero de momento, a Alejandro Magno y sus generales, que andan por Asia, les hemos perdido el rastro. A ver si en las siguientes novelas de la saga tratan el tema que me interesaba originalmente.
Respecto a la novela en sí, no está mal. Quizá algo larga e irregular en el ritmo. Creo que Christian Cameron quiere hacer una presentación del personaje principal bastante extensa, así como de todos los escenarios y el resto de personajes que le van a acompañar en su odisea. Espero que en las próximas entregas el ritmo mejore. El libro está lleno de escenas interesantes, en un contexto histórico complicado de narrar y difícil de no caer en errores graves.
Para mi gusto particular, el chamanismo y las premoniciones me sobran bastante, aunque hay que elogiar que el autor consigue con estas últimas crear una expectación creciente en el lector, deseoso de ver si éstas se van a cumplir o no.
Un aspecto que me gusta mucho en esta novela es la inseguridad y miedos del protagonista. Estamos ante un oficial que ha servido en el ejército de Alejandro Magno, ha visto la guerra y la muerte. Y pese a ello, está lleno de inseguridades, de miedo a la muerte, de nervios al comienzo de cada enfrentamiento. No es un héroe inmaculado, alguien que subestima al contrario porque los dioses o su fuerza estratégica están por encima de los demás. Todo lo contrario, es más humano, sabe lo que es la muerte y la teme. Es consciente que llevará a compañeros suyos a morir en la batalla. Y eso le carcome por dentro y, a veces, le nubla el juicio. Todo esto da a la historia tintes distintos a lo que se ven en otras novelas históricas. Y hace que al comienzo de cada batalla la incertidumbre del protagonista contagie al lector y le brinde emoción.
No me ha gustado el final. Termina cuando más necesitas que continúe y cierre un montón de tramas abiertas que necesitan una resolución urgente. Cameron, eres un bribón. Me hubiera o no gustado esta primera novela (que lo ha hecho), ya me has obligado a tener que leer sí o sí la siguiente. ¡Granuja!
This is the first historical fiction novel I've tried in a while. I'm not going to complain about how accurate facts are because not only this is fiction, but I do not have sufficient control of History to do it. I do want to complain about just how bad this plot is. Well, I may have exaggerated a bit. It's not extremely bad, it's just... uninteresting.
The book starts off slow. Really. Slow. It was constant pain for me to keep reading, until I was more or less a hundred pages in, and only because that's when stuff finally starts getting somewhere. In other words, the first 100 pages are fillers with a bit of plot because the author presents some characters and describes the setting.
When the book takes off, that is to say, when the main character finally gets hired by a tyrant, you'd think the story would move smoother, and in a way, it does, but from that point it's a constant journey through gaping plot holes and ridiculous decisions. This tyrant, seriously? His character doesn't make sense, it's like he's ruled by the whims of a three-year-old. It unnerves me. At some points of the novel, it feels like the author is forcing stuff to happen in a very tight fit, which makes it feel awkward, unnatural, and breaks immersion.
Beyond that, the book focuses heavily on the military side of the story, which isn't a bad thing in my book, but I wish it had a bit more of depth to it. We see the daily side of an army but... I'm lacking something to make it come alive for me, maybe this is just personal preference.
The romance depicted in this story is shallow, at best, but still better than some stories I've had the bad luck of reading. Could have been better, but I'm glad it isn't worse.
The ending, don't even get me started on that. It's not just the fact that it's predictable to the core, to the last detail, but it's also... plain, boring. It did not stir up any emotion, at least for me. Halfway through the story, the only motivation that kept me going was to find out about the end and then that turned out to be disappointing.
Anyway, I'm not going to continue the saga, because it's not going to be pleasant for me. I might check out the sequel eventually if I'm suddenly curious, but it won't be anytime soon.