ISBN 1409132676 (ISBN13: 9781409132677
I picked up this book at Sydney airport in January, having just been to see the Alexander exhibition at Sydney Museum and after reading about a hundred odd pages, set aside for a while as I started to have publishers’ review books piling up. It was not in the least because I didn’t find it interesting. Last week I picked it up again and have avidly read it during my daily commute. Historical fiction is always fascinating IMO particularly when it strives to present accuracy as far as possible. Written from the perspective of Ptolemy 1 Soter, who was one of Alexander’s closest friends from childhood and later self-proclaimed Pharoah of Egypt (beginning the Ptolemaic dynasty), this saga sweeps across Alexander’s adult life and his years of campaigns across the known world to create one of the largest empires of the Ancient World. Ptolemy, in his later years, himself wrote memoirs of Alexander, some say to justify his seizure of the Egyptian throne following Alexander’s death.
Widely acknowledged as one of history’s most successful military commanders, Alexander’s faults are not glossed over in Cameron’s novel. From brilliant strategist to infuriating braggart, from loyal friend to self-professed god, Ptolemy’s narrative provides rich detail about his friend and king, the ancient cultures of the time, the day to day life of Alexander’s military force and the intensity of the long years of campaigns.
The often graphic descriptions of battles are not for the faint-hearted, nor is the often coarse language and plentiful references to sex.
That being said, I don’t believe this precludes it from being in a school library albeit you might reserve it for your senior students. I think many older boys 16+ would enjoy this, if they have the necessary dedication to finish its 700 plus pages.
Bust of Ptolemy 1 Soter – The Louvre