Stealing Fire

Stealing Fire

by Jo Graham


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316076395
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Pages: 323
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jo Graham lives in Maryland with her family, and has worked in politics for many years. Black Ships is her debut novel. Find out more about the author at

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Stealing Fire 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
With historical fiction, I want to enter that other world, feel and think for a while as an Ancient Greek or Egyptian would. With fantasy, I want magic and world-building that places us in another world entirely, even if there's a historical basis. But STEALING FIRE doesn't for me excel as either fantasy or historical novel. With Jo Graham, I felt she was anachronistically superimposing her own modern New Age, egalitarian, and feminist values on her characters. It doesn't help that in this novel her first person narrator, Lydias, is made out to be also the author's past and future reincarnated protagonists from BLACK SHIPS and HAND OF ISIS. It's like that old joke that everyone was Marie Antoinette in another life. So life after life a guy gets to hang out with the rich and famous? Aeneas, Cleopatra and Alexander? Moreover, Lydias isn't at all disturbed at the revelation he was once and will be a woman; he doesn't have to struggle to see women as equals as would a man of that time. It might have worked better if Lydias had more of an arc where I could understand why his mindset is different than his contemporaries beyond his origins as a slave--or if his visions themselves touched off a revolution in his thinking. And after all, a visit from a deity should be life changing, not the almost casual thing it is in this novel. The novel doesn't convey the awe and terror the characters should feel at being confronted with the divine. The elements of the magical in this novel are I feel too thin to really consider it a fantasy, yet are also harder to rationalize as hallucinations or such in the same way as they were in BLACK SHIPS, breaking any sense of historic realism. Overall though the book felt to me more historical novel than real fantasy, but on those terms doesn't work for me because of the problems delineated above. Despite my criticisms, this is an enjoyable book overall, stylistically clean, a good, fast read with likable characters, but it doesn't make me feel I've sunk into the Hellenistic world just after the death of Alexander--I keep comparing it in my mind to the same ground covered by Mary Renault in her Alexander books: FIRE FROM HEAVEN, THE PERSIAN BOY and FUNERAL GAMES. I'm afraid STEALING FIRE suffers from the comparison.
Storeetllr on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Well, Graham's done it again, written a fabulous sweeping historical with hints of mysticism. Loosely connected to Black Ships and Hand of Isis, Stealing Fire tells the story of Lydias of Miletus, born a slave but risen to the ranks of one of the Companions to Alexander the Great. It also tells of the founding of the Ptolomaic dynasty in Egypt after the death of Alexander. The Black Land, with its gods and goddesses, its mysteries and its eternal flow of years, is as much a character as Lydias, Bagoas, and Ptolemy. Good stuff, even the battles (and there were plenty, all of them exciting), well-written, and it made me cry a number of times. Plus the ending left me with a really good feeling.DISCLAIMER: I won this in the LT Early Review program which did not, however, influence my review or 4.5 star rating. See my other reviews for verification that "I calls 'em as I sees 'em."
amanda4242 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Even though ¿Stealing Fire¿ is marketed as a historical fantasy, it would be more accurate to say that it is a historical novel with a few fantastical elements added in. Whatever genre it belongs to, I enjoyed it immensely and I look forward to reading Graham¿s other works.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Summary: Alexander the Great is dead, and his empire - the largest the world has ever known - is already being splintered amongst rival factions. The King's only legitimate heir is not yet born, and so Alexander's generals and advisers are all seeking power for themselves. Lydias of Miletus, a former stable boy who became one of Alexander's Companions, joins with Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals who has claimed Egypt for himself. But Egypt is restless - Alexander was Pharaoh, and without the proper funerary rights, the god Horus remains encased in the body, and the dark spirits of Egypt are no longer bound from working their evil. Lydias thinks of himself as a common soldier, but he must realize his uncommon destiny if he is to protect the fate of Egypt, and that of Alexandria: the newly-built city that was to be Alexander's greatest legacy.Review: I don't know how Jo Graham does it, but something about her stories, her characters, and her writing all coalesce to form these wonderful novels that resonate with me in a way that not many books do. Her first book, Black Ships, was a revelation, and easily one of the top five books I read in 2008, and while Stealing Fire didn't quite move me in the same way, it was still remarkably good. I think part of that has to do with the story and the setting: in two of her three novels, Graham has chosen to tell the story of the aftermath, to set her novels after the big history-making event, and to watch the way her characters try to make sense of a world that is falling apart around them. She does this very well, and the slight panicky tension of having everything you knew to be true suddenly erased is humming in the background throughout the story.Another element that underlies every aspect of her story is the idea of reincarnation. The main characters of Black Ships, Hand of Isis, and Stealing Fire are all the same soul, born over and over again, always in a time of great upheaval, always speaking with the gods and dreaming of their past and future selves, and always tied to the souls of those they love, and those they serve. This concept is not crucial to understanding the story - each of the books can be read independently without sacrificing any comprehension - but Graham's clear vision of the interweaving of these characters throughout history gives her books a richness and a resonating power that I haven't often found elsewhere.The story of Stealing Fire was absorbing as well. I haven't read many (any) books featuring Alexander, and although he was only in this book in flashback, I was fascinated by the descriptions of his empire, his plans for the Successors (an army composed of the sons of his soldiers, from every part of his empire), and in seeing the beginnings of Alexandria, and how it could develop from there into the urban center of Cleopatra's time. Graham also did an equally good job with describing Egypt (a setting I've always been fond of), and a surprisingly good job of writing battle scenes and military tactics in a way that I could visualize and keep track of. My one complaint is that it occasionally got a little bit military/politics-heavy, and that because it's all from Lydias's point of view, the other factions squabbling over Alexander's empire aren't particularly well-characterized. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and now have to go back to waiting impatiently for Graham's next book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: I've objected in the past to Guy Gavriel Kay being classed as fantasy, and lamented the fact that this designation might keep his books from the hands of appreciative readers. Everything I've said about his novels goes double for Jo Graham, in that her historical fantasy involves people that actually lived in countries that actually existed. It is fantasy inasmuch as the gods actually speak to people - but not all people, only their oracles, and really, wh
VivalaErin on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Alexander the Great has always been a popular figure in history, and this story had a nice change coming from the perspective of Lydia of Miletus. Lydias had one of those lives filled with hope. He began as a slave to a horse dealer, then he manages to find his way into the service of Hephaiston, general and lover to the Great King. I also love a story where the gods make their presence felt among mortals. Lydias is continually proving himself to be more than he ever expected, but even Alexander could see his potential. The fight to keep Alexander's empire from destroying itself is at the forefront, and Lydias becomes thoroughly important to this endeavor. The characters in the book are soldiers, except Bagoas who has his own strength, and they have excellent relationships with each other. Greek and Egyptian and Persian and more come together so well in this, and the gods are more than willing to come to the aid of those who belong to Alexander. I very much enjoyed the plot of the book as well as Graham's style. She has created great historical fantasy here, and I cannot wait to read the other book of hers on my shelf. She was able to take people from history and truly give them lives and personalities, more than could ever be found in a history text. You can see the charisma that must have drawn people to Alexander, as well as the way soldiers can love their masters. I love stories like this, and I was not disappointed.
Pebblesgmc on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is the first book I've read by Jo Graham and I loved it and looking forward to reading more books by her.Lydias was sold into slavery as a child, to a horse trader. He learns to care for and ride horses. Then a special horse is born and they grow up together. When the horse is sold he runs away, following the horse. The horses new owner takes his on as a stable boy to care for his horses. I can relate to this story, I love horses too. The story builds on myths and legends of Greece, Persia, and Egypt, and transports the reader to the ancinet world of Alexander the Great as it is coming apart after his death.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Historical fiction with a touch of fantasy. Lydias is a soldier in Alexander the Great's army, who accompanies Ptolemy to Egypt after Alexander's death. A good read, strongly reminiscent of Judith Tarr's work.
FicusFan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I got this book from the LT Early Reviewer program. It is historical fantasy and the 3rd book Graham has written. I have read them all and enjoyed them all, but this book is my favorite. I loved it.The premise of the book is that Alexander has just died and a lowly mongrel of a warrior has to decide what to do next. He has to pick the correct leader in order to stay alive. Lydias of Miletus has been a soldier in Alexander's army under the late Hephaistion. He and several friends pick Ptolemy. Ptolemy has been given or taken Egypt, while the rest of Companions jockey for power to try to become the Great King. So Lydias, his army unit, Ptolemy, his army, a royal Persian archer Artashir and family along with Ptolemy's woman and children go to Egypt.Ptolemy relies on Lydias' good sense, bravery, loyalty and honor to help him hold Egypt as he dances between the various factions. He has to keep the Antipater/Olympias faction in Greece happy and not offend Perdiccas who has become the regent and holds Roxane and Alexander's infant son. He wants to avoid actual battles that will leave him weak enough to be picked off by one of the other Generals, even if he wins.Alexander's embalmed body is still in Babylon and has become a pawn in the 3 year power struggle. Ptolemy finds that since Alexander was Pharaoh his death and absence has plunged spiritual Egypt into turmoil. Alexander's soul must pass into the west and a new Pharaoh must take his place to bind the evil spirits. They have started to run rampant at night and are preying on the Egyptian people. Alexander's body is needed to perform the funerary rites and bind the spirits.Ptolemy tasks Lydias with stealing the corpse as it finally journeys back to Macedon. Bagoas, Alexander's Persian Eunuch has agreed to help them as long as he can remain with Alexander in Egypt. He fears both Olympias and Roxane.The story follows Lydias as he boosts Alexander, and then later as he and Ptolemy plan their defenses in Egypt for when Perdiccas comes to reclaim him. The Egyptian gods rouse the land to help them, and not only do they win, but Ptolemy agrees to act as Pharaoh as a proxy for Alexander's son.The story was interesting and well told. I loved Graham's twist to explain the theft of Alexander. Although the story is set after the deaths of Alexander and Hephaistion, they appear in flash backs and the backstory of Lydias. Lydias is a bright spirit and a wonderful fictional addition to the Alexander story. We follow him from his humble beginnings as a half-breed (Carian and Greek) slave child to his time as a stable slave to when he runs off to follow the horse of his dreams, which Hephaistion has just purchased. Hephaistion takes him in and he becomes part of the army's baggage train. Eventually his devotion and bravery get him promoted into the army. He becomes the leader of an ile (like a cohort).This story treated all of the major characters so well, and true to the spirit of Mary Renault. I hate it when authors do a hatchet job on them. The research is spot on and I just loved spending time with the characters again. I am not sure if someone who hasn't read and loved Mary Renault's Fire From Heaven trilogy will enjoy or appreciate it as much.
hanque on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This historical fiction novel deals with the events after the death of Alexander the Great. Upon his death Alexander's empire fell apart as the generals grabbed pieces of it to rule. The story is told through the eyes of Lydias. Once a slave, he runs away while still young and joins Alexander's army as a groom for cavalry horses. Over time, he rises to be a soldier, joins the Companions and ends up as a cavalry commander. After Alexander's death, Lydias throws his lot in with Ptolemy who seized Egypt. As Ptolemy's chief advisor and general, the two struggle to establish a government for Egypt and to build Alexandria.This is an entertaining and well-written novel. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction won't be disappointed in this story.
amy1705 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Stealing Fire by Jo Graham is about the life after the death of Alexander the Great through the eyes of one of his Companions. Lydias of Miletus starts life as a slave and rises to the inner circle of Alexander of Macedonia. It is a historical fantasy that caught me up and I read it in just a couple of days. The story is told through his eyes and a series of flashbacks that add layers to the book's main timeline. I appreciated the bits of mysticism and the appearance of the gods in mortals lives. I enjoyed it so much I am currently reading Graham's Black Ships which is a retelling of The Aeneid.
goth_marionette on LibraryThing 8 months ago
For me this was a case of not judging the book by it's cover. While the picture is not bad it did not entice me to read the book. It also had a slow start due to a plethora of names without much description.There is a list in the back to refer to but I tend not to interrupt my flow of reading. While this seems to start off negatively trust me, read the book. It really grew on my and after a bit it was difficult to put the book down. The main character is endearing and compelling and the plot is nicely paced. The character interactions come across as authentic and believable which can be lacking in historical fiction. Great book and I would highly recommend it, just continue through the early sections.
Rowntree on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I found this book to be an easy read, though annoying in spots, and oddly difficult to review. The basic plot has been well-covered by other reviewers, so I'll merely touch here on one or two points with which I had a problem.The author acknowledges her considerable debt to the late Mary Renault, as well she should. The characters of the historical individuals appearing herein (particularly Bagoas) are intended, as the author indicates in her Afterward, to be continuations of those developed by Ms. Renault. Unfortunately, the effect of this (to my eye) was rather like reading well-written fan-fic. Well-done, to be sure, but distracting in an original work.I also had some difficulty with the apparent ease with which the main character deals with the many supernatural events happening around him, as has been noted by one or two previous reviewers, (although some of the other characters do have more believable reactions.) A visit from a deity should cause more than the mild consternation (if that) which the protagonist repeatedly displays.Not bad overall, but not quite my cup of tea. The premise of the series looks mildly interesting, reminiscent of Joan Grant's "Far Memory" books, but I doubt I'll go out of my way to look for the others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent novel. Font far too small for readers.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
The Macedonian world conqueror is dead and his strongest supporters struggle with what to do in the aftermath as Alexander the Great was a man of epic proportions. Lydias of Macedon was with Alexander as he defeated all opponents, but he learns quickly that nothing will be the same as he leaves behind his ruler's corpse fleeing for his life. Lydias joins the side of one of Alexander's top officers, General Ptolemy, who heads to Egypt to take control of the African nation. In country, Lydias meets other expatriates who pledge loyalty to Ptolemy. However, the Macedonian is shocked from those who come from beyond as the dead and the gods abet the general and his supporters in bringing Alexander's corpse and spirit to Egypt as his final resting place. However the biggest stunner for the honest Lydias is what Isis bestows on him. This is a great ancient historical fantasy that brings to life the era just after Alexander's sudden death within a strong Egyptian mythos. Diogenes would have ended his search if he met Lydias who with a strong support cast serves as the center of the story line even as the real General Ptolemy begins a dynasty in Egypt. Stealing Fire is a terrific BC Egyptian thriller. Harriet Klausner