Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for action-packed historical novel, The New Achilles by Christian Cameron. Thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Orion Books and NetGalley for my review copy. You can read my review below.
About the Book
Alexanor is a man who has seen too much blood. He has left the sword behind him to become a healer in the greatest sanctuary in Greece, turning his back on war.
But war has followed him to his refuge at Epidauros, and now a battle to end the freedom of Greece is all around him. The Mediterranean superpowers of Rome, Egypt and Macedon are waging their proxy wars on Hellenic soil, turning Greek farmers into slaves and mercenaries.
When wounded soldier Philopoemen is carried into his temple, Alexanor believes the man’s wounds are mortal but that he is not destined to die. Because he knows Philopoemen will become Greece’s champion. Its last hero. The new Achilles.
Format: Hardcover (pp.) Publisher: Orion Books
Published: 18th April 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find The New Achilles on Goodreads
The New Achilles is crammed full of action scenes (including a pirate attack in the very first chapter) that really come alive on the page. It’s also full of detailed information about clothing, weaponry, armour, religious practices and social customs of the time that are obviously the result of extensive research. (The glossary at the end of the book is much needed.) The detailed and often lengthy battle scenes, although undoubtedly exciting, were of less interest to me than the exploration of the interesting relationship between Alexanor and Philopoemen. ‘We’ve boxed and we’ve argued. Are we not brothers?’
Alexanor is variously doctor, therapist, confidante and sparring partner to Philopoemen, whom he accompanies on his journeys to different theatres of war from what we now know as the mainland of Greece to Crete and back again. It’s a complex political situation with shifting allegiances and a multitude of city states and their leaders competing for power and influence – ‘the game of kings’, in fact. In his Author’s Note, Christian Cameron likens Greece at the time to modern Syria with all the big players fighting over her.
Alexanor and Philopoemen are united by the trauma of loss in their personal lives but although both have chosen a life of action as the means to silence their demons, Alexanor has opted for priesthood and healing whilst Philopoemen has chosen success on the battlefield.
Philopoemen, the so-called ‘new Achilles’, is a charismatic leader, master tactician and accomplished, and seemingly tireless, fighter with miraculous powers of recovery. As imagined by the author, he is somewhat of a radical visionary too, arguing the case for gender equality and an end to slavery among other things. As he says, ‘I don’t want to conquer the world, I want to make it better.’ He’s a bit of a politician as well, keenly aware of what is required of a leader. He states knowingly at one point ‘No one fancies a hard-working Achilles. It has to appear effortless’.
The New Achilles is a book for readers who like their historical fiction to come with a soundtrack of the clash of swords, the thunder of hooves, the swish of arrows and javelins, the glugging of wine and the earthy language of soldiers in battle.
In his Author’s Note, Christian Cameron states, ‘This book is a novel, and a great deal of it, especially the details, is made up. But Philopoemen really lived. And he really was so great a man that everyone, friends and enemies, honoured him when he was dead.’ Fans of The New Achilles will be pleased to know that Philopoemen’s story doesn’t end here.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of publishers, Orion Books, and NetGalley.
In three words: Detailed, dramatic, action-packed
Try something similar…The Last King of Lydia by Tim Leach
About the Author
Christian Cameron is a writer and military historian. He participates in re-enacting and experimental archaeology, teaches armoured fighting and historical swordsmanship, and takes his vacations with his family visiting battlefields, castles and cathedrals. He lives in Toronto and is busy writing his next novel. (Photo credit: Orion Books author page)
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