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The Ionia Sanction (Mysteries of Ancient Greece) Hardcover – November 8, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
Book 2 of 6 in the Athenian Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Gary Corby:

"Full of real historical figures and fascinating insights into Greek and Persian culture, The Ionia Sanction is a delightful romp."
—Shelf Awareness

"Corby has not only made Greek history accessible—he's made it first-rate entertainment."
—Kelli Stanley, award-winning author of Nox Dormienda and City of Dragons

"Those who like their historicals with a touch of humor will welcome Australian author Corby's promising debut... Corby displays a real gift for pacing and plotting."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Details of culture, politics and history are so deftly woven into the threads of the story that life in ancient Athens comes vividly alive."
—Historical Novel Review

"Energetic.... Very entertaining."
—Kirkus Reviews

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Gary Corby has long been fascinated by ancient history, finding it more exciting and bizarre than any modern thriller. He's combined the ancient world with his love of whodunits, to create an historical mystery series set in classical Greece. Gary lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. He blogs at A Dead Man Fell from the Sky, on all things ancient, Athenian, and mysterious.

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Product Details

  • Series: Mysteries of Ancient Greece (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312599013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312599010
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,573,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Gary Corby has long been fascinated by ancient history, finding it more exciting and bizarre than any modern thriller. He's combined the ancient world with his love of whodunits, to create an historical mystery series set in classical Greece. Gary lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. He blogs at A Dead Man Fell from the Sky, on all things ancient, Athenian, and mysterious. More information is at GaryCorby.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There is a new addictive historical mystery series in town, and it's the "A dead man fell from the sky..." series by Gary Corby. It's set in classical Athens, in the early 5th cent. BC, and it follows the adventures of Nicolaos, sometimes political agent and investigator to Pericles. (He's also Socrates' older brother, which is used for some great comic moments.)

I have read more ancient Roman mystery series than I can count, but ancient Greece doesn't really seem to come up on the radar that often. Sometimes I wonder if the historical mystery genre is played out, but then I read something like "The Ionia Sanction" and change my mind. "The Ionia Sanction" is the second book in the Nicolaos series- "The Pericles Commission" was the first- and it bounces from incident to incident with an almost effervescent glee.

In "Sanction," Nicolaos is off to the Persian-occupied Asia Minor to find out who was behind the murder of Thorion, the proxenos for Athens (the local ambassadorial host). When he gets there, chasing after the debonair hitman who offed the luckless proxenos, he gets to know Themistocles, the hero of the Battle of Marathon who was later exiled for treachery; and he locks horns with the avidly religious Persian agent Barzanes. He also rescues Themistocles' daughter from a fate worse than death, continues to romance the virginal priestess Diotima, and discovers some truly horrifying methods of execution. It's really more of a spy drama action/adventure than your traditional gumshoe mystery story- it actually reminded me a bit of "Burn Notice" with its emphasis on action and Byzantine international intrigue (and also in some of the dialogue, when Nicolaos keeps saying that Diotima "is not my girlfriend")- but this is not a bad thing.
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Format: Hardcover
In Athens, Greece, 460 BC, young Nicolaos discovers that Thorion, a proxenos for Ephesus, has hung himself. Upon further investigation, he learns that this suspected traitor was hung by an assassin, Araxes, who stole a letter. Pericles sanctions Nicolaos to travel to Ephesus, a city in the province of Ionia, to retrieve the letter and learn who hired Araxes to kill Thorion. During his investigation, Nicolaos frees a slave girl, Asia, and vows to return her to her father, Themistocles, a famous traitor who fled Athens and now resides in Magnesia. Nicolaos also encounters Diotima who fled to Ephesus after he refused to marry her. At the home of Themistocles, Nicolaos discovers a weird family whose idiosyncrasies are often hilarious; however, none of them can be trusted because one member of the family is a ruthless killer.

Gary Corby's "The Ionia Sanction" is even more intriguing, more gruesome and more hilarious than his debut, "The Pericles Commission" (The Pericles Commission). Nicolaos has led a relatively sheltered life in Athens where "a man is a child in the eyes of the law so long as his father lives." He still yearns to be an investigator and to marry his girlfriend Diotima despite his father's objections to both. Now, in order to solve the murder of Thorion, a type of modern consul who received correspondence from Ephesus, Nicolaos must travel to Ephesus where he experiences quite a culture shock. First, he sails aboard the fastest ship in the world, the Salaminia, equivalent to our Air Force One. He rides a horse for the first time.
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Format: Hardcover
Gary Corby's done it again in this second installment of Nicolaus' career as an Ancient Greek private investigator. Pericles, ruler of Athens, charges Nico with finding the murderer of Thorion, the proxenos for Athens, only the first murder Nico will encounter this time around.

A wily ride ensues as Nico careens down the Long Walls of Piraeus and travels to Ephesus where he is reunited with Diotima, priestess to Artemis. Unfortunately, Nico is lugging a rather young, very pretty slave named Asia, a girl he rescued from the slave market and is determined to return to her father, the Satrap of Ephesus.

The book keeps the reader guessing the identity of the murderer to the very end, with the added bonus of being laugh-out-loud hilarious, and chock-full of strange facts about the Ancient Greek world. I'm a history teacher, but I always learn something new when I read Corby's books.

An all-around excellent read--I'm already looking forward to the third installment!
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Format: Hardcover
This is the second in a series set in Athens and Ionia (modern-day Turkey) circa 460 BC, starring Nicolaos, son of Sophroniscus. It's a mystery with a lot of murder and mayhem, sex and other sins, secrets and surprises, but all done in the spirit of good, clean fun. Corby takes much of the culture and history of the era, including some actual historical figures, and spins it into a surprisingly coherent tale, with more twists and turns than the River Meander.

The style is light and quick, much like a P.G. Wodehouse novel. All of the characters--good guys and bad girls alike--are either clever, philosophical, charming, sexy, or funny enough to be likeable. Nicolaos reminded me a lot of the Marcus Didius Falco character in the books by Lindsey Davis, only I have not yet finished one of the four novels I have of hers. This book moved quickly, kept me informed and entertained, and kept me guessing as to what would come next or how the hero would find a way out of his latest conundrum.

There were a few anachronistic phrases that bothered me at the beginning, but not enough to make me stop reading. An interesting device Corby used was to make Nicolaos the older brother of a precocious teen named Socrates, a philosopher. Socrates plays a minor role in this story, and I'm wondering if Corby intends to develop this character's involvement in future stories or just keep him as a curio. Overall, however, anyone who enjoys mysteries combined with past-paced excitement and droll humor will definitely enjoy this series. I highly recommend it.
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