Saturday, 9 June 2012
Fires of Alexandria (The Alexandrian Saga Book 1) - Thomas K Carpenter
Title: Fires of Alexandria (The Alexandrian Saga Book 1)
Author: Thomas K Carpenter
"Fires of Alexandria" is the first book in an alternative history series by Thomas K. Carpenter known as the "Alexandrian Saga". I have to admit that I do have a soft spot for alternative history so I was looking forward to reading this book. This was especially so as it delved into a period in history that I have rarely read about in either standard historical fiction or alternative history fiction.
The story follows the adventures of Heron, a mathematician and inventor in Alexandria, Egypt during the Roman Occupation. Heron is actually a real historical figure; however Carpenter's first twist in the novel was to portray Heron as a woman who has taken up the identity and role of her dead twin brother. In the book Heron, is trying to overcome the various bad debts that her brother had built up. She therefore accepts a commission from a northern barbarian to create a mechanical army alongside another offer to investigate the mysteries that surround the fires that burned down the Great Library of Alexandria. These two objectives drive the story onwards with political intrigue aplenty until the satisfying and enjoyable finale.
I found the book to be thoroughly entertaining and I loved the way that Carpenter has managed to integrate real characters, both the well and lesser known into a coherent and believable story. The writing was clear, well-researched and paced in a manner that kept you hooked from start to finish. In addition, the entire novel was full of an enthusiasm that managed to infect me to the point that I was trawling the internet trying to learn more about the period and people involved. I really appreciated the interest that the book hatched inside me and it is times like this that I understand the power of a well written historical novel.
Overall, this really was an enjoyable book that has formed a solid beginning for a new series of novels. I found myself feeling sympathetic to the main characters and the story itself was a believable one that interpreted and altered history in an entertaining manner. It mixed action, mystery and intrigue well so that it was hard to put down at the end of the day. Without doubt, any future instalment will quickly appear on my reading lists.
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Ebook Reading Challenge (The Eclectic Bookshelf)
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