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The twin mountain kingdoms, wealthy beyond belief and home to
her family for more than a thousand years, had been her world.
Her lineage was without blemish. Roxanne smiled at a
half-forgotten memory. Had not Darius the Third, King of
Kings, mighty bull of Persia, sent his ambassadors to offer
for her hand?
She remembered how she had stood beside her father in the East
Tower of the Blue Palace and watched the disappointed
emissaries ride away. "What need has Roxanne of a Persian
throne?" her father had asked. "Or the sheltered life of veil
and purdah? But I can forbid you nothing, child of my heart.
Say the word, and I'll send riders to fetch them back."
She'd answered with abarracks-yard oath, and her father had
bellowed with laughter and enveloped her in a bear hug. How
solid he'd seemed, how proud she'd been of him-a prince with
the pride and the power to refuse King Darius.
When she thought back, that shining moment-solid as the rock
beneath her feet- had marked the end of a life she had
believed would last forever.
A week later, her father and her cousin Kayan had answered the
call to arms, leading an army of fierce cavalrymen to aid the
Persians against the Macedonian barbarians her people called
Greeks. But the invaders had sliced through Darius's pretty
soldiers like a sickle through ripe wheat. Her people had
fought bravely, but the Greeks were too many, and they could
not stand alone once the remaining Persian troops had fled.
The women of her house had always been educated to rule. She
had studied medicine, mathematics, and astronomy since she was
old enough to toddle. She could read and write five languages
and speak seven. And on that day, she'd set herself to study
She had always believed that her husband would be her beloved
Kayan. Astrologers had chosen him on the day she was born. Son
of her father's cousin, he was both noble and wealthy in his
own right. But wealth had never interested Kayan. From boyhood
on, he had been a warrior. He'd risen to the rank of
commander, an honor for one so young.
War with the Greeks went on. Brave Bactria fell. Sogdiana
struggled for her life. Cities burned. Vultures preyed on the
unburied dead. Each mile Alexander of Macedonia gained had to
be won and then won again. And each step was mired in Greek
Roxanne, hiding her womanhood with the felt and fur clothing
of a Sogdian warrior, stood beside Oxyartes to receive the
"Tell your master, this Alexander of Macedonia," Oxyartes
bellowed, "that we will never surrender. If he wants to take
this rock he must find flying soldiers!"
Kayan scowled at the departing delegation. "What now?"
"Now we wait," Oxyartes said. "There are easier lands to
conquer. My spies tell me that his soldiers long to follow the
caravan route to India. Let them. Here we are and here we
stay." He laid a hand on Roxanne's shoulder. "Go to the
women's quarters, daughter."
"My place is here beside you. You'd not send a prince to cower
among the crones and suckling babes."
Her father's powerful grip tightened as his temper flared. "A
prince would know his duty to his liege, no matter what the
command." He scowled. "Go! I will have no hysterical women
throwing themselves from tower windows when you can calm
Flushed with shame, Roxanne bowed her head in wordless
apology. If only she'd been born a prince, Alexander would
never have come so far. "Let me be of some real use," she
begged. "I know all the ways off this mountain. In Greek
clothing, I could sneak into Alexander's camp and put an
"No!" Kayan said. "You must-"
Her father silenced him with a stern look. "Slaying Alexander
will not turn back this army, child," he said. "No man could
be prouder of a son than I am of you. But you are a woman, not
a man. You are made to bring life, not take it."
Swallowing the retort that sprang to her lips, Roxanne placed
a fist over her heart in the soldier's gesture of obedience
and hurried toward the gate that protected the women's section
of the palace. Two guards stepped aside and called for the
warden within to unbolt the door for the princess royal. As
Roxanne stepped forward, she heard Kayan's call.
One final kiss, and then Roxanne went to soothe the women and
children. "My father bids you all to pray for our
"What if the cliff face does not hold them?" Mitra demanded in
her grating voice. "What then?" She clutched her remaining
son, a red-faced babe, to her ample breast. She had right to
fear. Her husband and thirteen-year-old son had fallen at the
"Then we must be prepared to die as Bactrians and Sogdians."
"No more talk of death," Soraya called. "It is time to feed
the children." She laid a warm palm on Roxanne's cheek.
* * *
Dawn broke late over the mountains. Rose pink rays of light
spilled through the thick clouds that enveloped the peaks
rising over the citadel. Roxanne shivered, despite her
wolf-skin cloak. Deep snow remained on the mountain even
through the height of summer, and the nights were frigid.
A sentry shouted an alarm. Armed men spilled from the
barracks, some stringing bows, others tugging on boots and
coats. "There!" one cried. Up above them, high over the
citadel, enemy soldiers clustered on the rock face.
"Sorcery," her father swore. "It isn't possible."
Macedonian heralds under a white flag of truce were already
riding up the narrow rock trail. The arrogant messenger thrust
forth his missive.
"Alexander promises the lives of our women if we surrender,"
her father said. "Look above. There must be three hundred
archers." His proud shoulders sagged. "It is over. Kayan! Take
my daughter to the women's quarters. See that she is dressed
as befits her station."
"No!" Roxanne caught her father's arm. His face was
tallow-white, suddenly old. "Don't ask this of me. I would
stay with you. I would die at your side. If you love me, grant
"For that love, I cannot. Take her, Kayan, by force if you
must. Take also a hundred of the palace guard to protect the
women until we see if Alexander be true or false."
Kayan's obsidian eyes narrowed. "And if the Greeks betray us?"
"Then I trust you will find the strength to do what must be
Excerpted from The Conqueror
by Judith E. French
Copyright © 2003 by Judith E. French.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted March 20, 2004
I read this book in 2 1/2 days. I couldn't put it down (by the way that's hard to do with 3 kids).This was a first for me as far place setting goes and time period. I normally read about medievil England and Scotland. I don't normally cry with a book but I did with this one. You'll have to read it to find out why. I love the detail she put into the story.BUY THIS BOOK!! IT'S WORTH IT!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2004
I found this story to be fascinating. The characters were amazing, and I loved the history. Alexander is such a romantic figure but I had never read about his wife. Theirs was a love story to compare with Romeo and Juliet's. I was sorry to reach the end of the book, and I will recommend it to my reading friends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 24, 2004
When I realized this book was about Alexander the Great and his wife, I wondered how it could be a romance. It's one of the best romances I ever read, maybe because it was based on fact. The book held my interest from the very first page-- I couldn't put it down. I'm reading all the Judith French romances now.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2004
Picked this up as a 'quick and easy, light read.' The story was so fascinating I couldn't put it down. I've read it twice and still enjoy it. I have now read several histories of Alexander the Great looking for more information about his beautiful wife. I would love to have this book recorded so I could listen to it in the car.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2004
I read this book in one day and I've never cried so much in my life!! I loved Alexander and his beautiful wife Roxanne. I've nver read a book that was so close to my heart, I truly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great romance.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 24, 2004
This is by the far the most emotion provoking romance novel I've ever read. French has created a true novel, with elaborate plot scheme and intense main character development. I've never become so attached to two star-crossed lovers in my life. A MUST READ !!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 31, 2003
No one has come close to conquering the mountainous twin kingdoms of Bactria and Sogdiana. After Darius and the Persians fell, Bactria went next. Now Alexander the Great and his Macedonian horde have reached Sogdiana where he offers the current ruler a deal. Knowing the impossible has happened, Oxyartes is ready to negotiate terms though his warrior daughter Roxanne wants to fight to the death.<P> As a good soldier, Roxanne does her duty and joins Alexander as he continues to lead his armies towards the Indus River. Surprising herself, she falls in love with the Conqueror. Still she realizes his shortcomings as Alexander not only has an appetite for other women even if Roxanne is the one that grips his heart and soul, but also an inner demon to dominate the world that supersedes all his other needs including Roxanne.<P> THE CONQUEROR is a strong historical tale that brings to life one of the great (no pun intended) individuals. The story line is action packed and filled with Ancient Macedonian tidbits that will especially please the military subgroup as war is a prime element of the society. Roxanne is a solid counterpoint to Alexander, the ultimate hunk for the romance fan even if that subplot takes a back seat to a terrific look into the ancient world.<P> Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2003
Setting: Persian Empire, 4th Century B.C. Princess Roxanne has been called an Amazon, a woman of unequaled beauty, and a fierce woman whose ability in riding, using a bow and fearlessness was renowned. When Alexander conquerors Persia he is united in marriage with Roxanne. The two are a perfect match as they both are noted for wanting their own way and of great courage. Alexander is a man who is golden and revered as a god by many as he marches ever forward conquering wherever he goes. He is moody, charming, and a real warrior king. His life with the beautiful and fiery Roxanne is fascinating. I can¿t remember when I¿ve enjoyed a historical novel so much. Ms. French paints a glorious picture of the times that brings history to life as she delves into the relationship between Alexander and Roxanne, Alexander¿s famous companions, Roxanne¿s family and followers and the treachery therein. THE CONQUEOR is a story that flows effortlessly and is highly entertaining as well as informative. Suzanne Coleburn, Reader To Reader ReviewsWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.