Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stealing Fire - Jo Graham

Stealing Fire
Jo Graham
Orbit Books
Copyright: May 25, 2010

The Synopsis:
Alexander the Great's soldier, Lydias of Miletus, has survived the final campaigns of the king's life. He now has to deal with the chaos surrounding his death. Lydias throws his lot in with Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals who has grabbed Egypt as his personal territory. Aided by the eunuch Bagoas, the Persian archer Artashir, and the Athenian courtesan Thais, Ptolemy and Lydias must take on all the contenders in a desperate adventure whose prize is the fate of a white city by the sea, and Alexander's legacy.

This is the third book that Jo Graham has written in this world - termed the Numinous World, although there's now also a book of short stories as well. It's a world where reincarnation does happen, so, although the characters in each book are different, they are also the same. They don't realize it, either (at least, not usually). As a result, the books all stand alone well, whether or not, you've read any of the other books.

Stealing Fire is the third book published in this world, but at the same time, in terms of the chronology, it's the second one, coming between Black Ships and Hand of Isis. This is the story of the founding of the city of Alexandria and the effect that the death of Alexander, the great conqueror and general had on his followers, all seen from the point of view of one of the ordinary soldiers - Lydias. Who, maybe, isn't so ordinary after all.

The chronology of the book is interesting - a lot of the background is told through flashbacks - Lydias' early life, his time as a soldier of Alexander and so much more. Just as intriguing are the flashes of other times and places.

Some of them, you can recognize if you've read the other books, but some of the flashes have yet to be revealed as to where and when they're set. It just keeps me hoping that there will be other Numinous World books published.

I'm highly interested in the ancient world - Roman, Greek and Egyptian so, for me that was one of the big draws of this series to date, the setting. And Jo Graham excels at that - it's so you can almost experience the book through your senses - the smells, tastes and feels of what she writes about are all there.

This is a world that's somewhere between historical fiction, and fantasy - the gods and goddesses do take an active role in the story, but there's no magic as there is in so many fantasy novels. It's what a lot of people term historical fantasy, and the description fits the book to a T.

The historical facts are all there - it's the nuances and what the characters are thinking, as seen through the eyes of a minor character that flesh out the story so well.

Stealing Fire is definitely worth the rating, and worth reading!

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