322 B.C. The Macedonian Empire is on the verge of civil war following the sudden death of Alexander the Great.
As a boy, Andrikos watched as Alexander’s army marched through his homeland of Greek Ionia after defeating the Persians at the Granicus River on their way to the total conquest of the Persian Empire. Soon he will be embroiled in their world, forced to flee his old life due to an unintentional crime.
Thrust into the army, Andrikos struggles to cope with the brutal yet necessary training which his superiors put him through to prepare for the coming wars of succession as Alexander’s surviving generals seek to divide and conquer the spoils of Olympus.
But Andrikos is not destined to be a nameless soldier; by chance he is chosen for a clandestine mission – and is immersed in a world of intrigue, violence and brotherhood.
The path that lies ahead of Andrikos requires him to shed his immaturity and take on the responsibilities and emotions of a man beyond his years as he struggles to save Alexander’s legacy from those who wish to usurp it.
The Spoils of Olympus: By the Sword is a historical epic which follows the advancements of one soldier from boy to man set during a time of global conflict.
Alexander has long been one of my husband's favorite historical figures, but I knew (know?) relatively little about him, So when the chance came along to review this book, I jumped at it. And parallels can be drawn from what the author says about Alexander's succession to other military and political rulers of history - that much more is known about their reign than the time period after.
If I may apply some generalizations - usually it seems that the extremely capable leaders die far earlier than one might expect or hope, and while a bloodline successor may be present, he is usually too young to take over control of a kingdom or empire upon the death of his father. So a number of 'advisors' present themselves, wanting at the least to control the empire until the successor comes of age ... or, more often than not, just want to take the empire away completely. And all this in-fighting usually winds up dismantling the empire left behind by the leader in the first place.
Most of the books I read are from a woman's point of view, but I always like to stretch my horizons, and have grown to thoroughly enjoy books with male main characters and/or authors. And with a healthy personal respect for those serving in our military, if the books are martial in nature, so much the better.
No, I don't care for the way women are treated or portrayed in some of this literature, but especially in historical fiction, I do not insist that history be re-written to fit my world view of how things should be. In Spoils of Olympus: By the Sword, there are a number of scenes where men seek the services of women 'employed' in the world's oldest profession. There is one scene where far too few women are brought in to 'service' the soldiers after a battle, and for me, it was difficult to read. I can sit around stewing about how women 'should not be treated in this manner' in literature or I can use my feelings to fuel my resolve to do what is necessary to make sure that such shameful occurrences are lessened in real life.
I was glad for the information set out about the different military groups and officers in the Greek army of the time. I don't know that I could even completely sort out that information for the US military today, let alone from a time period so long past. There was one point (and I wish I had taken better notes) where a certain military character was introduced. The full unit, rank and character name were used at the beginning of three sentences in succession, which seemed a bit awkward to me. I would have thought any one portion of the whole, such as the name, or the rank, or even the pronoun 'he' could have sufficed for the 2nd and 3rd sentences.
Also, as sometimes happens with ARCs, there were a number of instances of incorrect spelling or grammar. The one that sticks out was calling one of the harem women a 'fare' young girl.
Aside from this minor cosmetic issues, I quite liked Spoils of Olympus. People say those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. I will not allow that to happen on my watch. That's why (to me) books of this sort are important.
I did not remember going into the book that it was the start of a series. One of the big issues I have with series that I have read, is that the ending is abnormally abrupt and I am left hanging. I know that can be a device to ensure a reader comes back for the next installment, but it irritates me. Of all the books I have read and reviewed thus far, Spoils of Olympus: By the Sword by Christian Kachel has, in my opinion, the best (bar none!) end of book transition from 'standalone' to series that I have ever come across. I felt satisfied (instead of cheated) with the wrap of of By the Sword, and my appetite for the next installment is well and duly whetted. Bring it!
I am a Long Island, NY native and current resident of Northern Virginia. While attending the University of Maryland- College Park, the events of September 11, 2001 inspired me to join the U.S. Army ROTC program and volunteer for three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan upon my commissioning into the Army Reserves in 2003. I hold three Master’s degrees and work in the defense industry.
The Spoils of Olympus has been a 2 1/2 year project that began in a Marriott hotel room in San Antonio, Texas while attending pre deployment training for a tour in Afghanistan in late 2011. The wars of succession immediately following the death of Alexander the Great have always fascinated me despite being overshadowed in the history books by the life and times of Alexander himself. Many great novels have been written about ancient Greece and Alexander but few fictional works have explored this forgotten era in western civilization where Alexander’s generals, who were once allies, battled each other for control of the largest empire on earth.
By the Sword is the first novel in The Spoils of Olympus series and introduces us to the story’s protagonist, Andrikos. The book follows him from an adolescence of criminality and capriciousness to his forced enlistment in the wars of succession; taking him from the battlefields of Asia Minor to the Achaemenid palaces of the Persian Empire. It is my hope readers will enjoy the story while learning about this important time in history.
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(Disclosure: I received a print copy of Mr. Kachel's book from the author and publisher, via HFVBT, in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)