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Posted January 7, 2013
Reviewed by Ian Miller for Readers Favorite This is the first b
Reviewed by Ian Miller for Readers Favorite
This is the first book of a trilogy, hence it has a certain amount of introductory material. As at the end of "The Fellowship of the Ring", the ending of this book finishes something, but it clearly leads into the next book. One sign of a really good storyteller is that the author can take a very ordinary plot line and make it interesting, and Max Overton can genuinely do this. The plot of the start of this book is somewhat ordinary. The objective is to get Nikometros, a cavalry officer in Alexander's army, incorporated into a Scythian tribe. As the army marches east, Nikometros, together with a few others, are left behind to maintain Alexander's authority over the newly conquered lands. To the north is Scythia, the great rolling grasslands that Alexander has left alone. Nikometros takes a small band of cavalry on patrol, and then blatantly fails Tactics 101, whereupon he is captured by a tribe of Scythians. Up to this point, you can just about see everything coming well in advance, but it is told so well that it maintains interest really well. The rest of the story is really well-told, and Overton is clearly very comfortable with this sort of story. Here, the plot becomes a little less predictable, and because of the predictability of the first part, there is a good chance of a surprise, so it would be wrong to go further into the plot, other than to note the almost inevitable falling of Nikometros for the forbidden priestess, Tomyra.
The book has elements of cavalry warfare of the time, romance, envy, intrigue, as well as personal failings, hence it has widespread interests. The book also gives rich descriptions of what life was like for Scythians of the time. Though before reading this book, I had heard of Scythia, I knew almost nothing about it. Now I feel I do, or at least I know what the author thought Scythian life should be like. Perhaps one failing in the book is the absence of a section at the end outlining where the author found, and hence the reader can find, more about Scythian life. However, the story is well-written and it is a page turner. I highly recommend it if you are interested in historical novels of that period.
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