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Ancient Greece and Rome in Fiction!


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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2013 7:44:20 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 20, 2013 7:50:52 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2013 7:39:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2013 7:54:58 PM PST
Dear John and Readers:
I have three Roman era novels on my Kindle site and a fourth one in progress. I try to base my works on Roman primary sources which I know, having been a history professor for forty years. I am constantly trying to improve prose quality, but that is for readers to judge.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2013 12:04:25 PM PDT
Well, well, I never picked up on that! Thanks for the info.

As I said, I enjoyed "The Red Knight", although I did have a few small issues with it.

Agreed re. Alexander books. To be honest, I've read very few (or any) novels about AtG that I've been impressed by - except Renault. Renault's a little different, though, because it was reading her books that set me on my field of academic study, and I have very fond memories. (The last of the trilogy, "Funeral Games", was *not* that good, but she wrote so well that it hardly seems fair to knock it!) But my issues with Cameron's attempt are largely due to the fact that it read like a first draft, and from someone who didn't *quite* understand a lot of the historical issues, rather than a polished end-product. I'm still searching for the perfect Alexander novel ... :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2013 2:32:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 16, 2013 11:08:56 AM PDT
Selene says:
Yep, Miles and Christian are one and the same. You'll have noted that RK is full of kings, knights and soldiers straight out of the Hundred Years War, too :) Not saying I didn't enjoy it, but it was a bit too Grail Romance on steroids for me.

Taking on Alexander in one volume was always going to be a big ask. There's a reason why most authors of novels about him break up his story into several volumes, and I wonder if that might have worked better for Cameron as well. Then there's the ghost of Mary Renault...

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2013 1:43:02 AM PDT
I had various problems with "God of War", Selene ... then again, I've been an Alexander academic, so to speak, for 25 years, so I'm perhaps more pedantic than most! Even so, I didn't think it was as good as the other books of his that I've read, in terms of the writing itself.

"The Red Knight" is Miles Cameron, rather than Christian, though. Or am I being really dumb and Christian/Miles are the same person? I thought "The Red Knight" was dead on the mark, myself - funny, isn't it, how people's views can be so opposed? :-)

All the best

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2013 6:12:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2013 4:14:15 PM PDT
Selene says:
I agree, Marcus - although I'm a committed Cameron fan and enjoyed "Alexander:God of War", I'm not totally uncritical and didn't feel it was his best work. I also felt he missed the mark a bit with his medieval-themed fantasy, "The Red Knight". I believe he "gets" medieval much more successfully in "The Ill-Made Knight". But given his prolific output, it's not surprising that he has the occasional off-day - though even an off-day for Cameron is pretty darn good :)

BTW, if anyone else is hanging out for the 4th "Long War" novel, its release date has been changed from mid-year to December (this year). It also has a new title- it was to be "Artemisium", but has now become The Great King.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2013 11:29:18 AM PDT
I read this a few weeks ago, Selene, and enjoyed it immensely. Much better than his book on Alexander (to bring the thread back on topic :-) ).

Yes, I endorse "The Ill-made Knight" wholeheartedly.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2013 12:27:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 13, 2013 12:29:13 AM PDT
Selene says:
This is off topic, but just have to put in a recommendation here for Richard and any other Christian Cameron fans. CC's The Ill-Made Knight is now out and although it's a change of pace, being set in the world of the medieval knight and the routier (the two not mutually exclusive) it's another of the typically knock-your-socks-off historical adventures CC fans have come to appreciate.

Cameron reuses one of his favourite literary devices- grizzled old veteran recounts the momentous events of his life in retrospect -but, hey, it works. This is a terrific read, one of Cameron's best, imo. And it's the first in a series...

Posted on Jun 17, 2013 6:39:58 PM PDT
MG says:
I just finished reading the novel "Last of the Ninth" by Stephen Lorne Bennett and really enjoyed it. It is essentially a political conspiracy thriller set against the backdrop of the impending war between the Roman and Parthian Empires in the 2nd century. While I recognized several of the background events and characters, including the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, it was only through some later research that I discovered that other pivotal characters (Alexander of Abonoteichos and Lucian of Samosata for instance) were also based on historical figures. I also really enjoyed the focus on the eastern reaches of the Empire and the various factions threatening the frontier. The author obviously did his homework. A great read for someone who wants to learn a little more about ancient Rome while also enjoying political intrigue and combat.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2013 12:52:22 PM PDT
Richard, thank you very much for your kind words. It's wonderful fans like you who ensure that LEGION continues to find new readers even after being in print for more than a decade. After all this time, copies of LEGION still sell every day, and no one is more astounded than I am!

Again, thank you for your generous remarks, and I hope that you enjoy HORSES ON THE STORM every bit as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Your friend,
Bill

Posted on Jun 2, 2013 8:56:18 PM PDT
That being said: Can one of the authors step up for Belisarius?

Posted on Jun 2, 2013 8:38:11 PM PDT
I started reading "Horses on the Storm" by Bill Altimari, and had to stop and go back and re-read "Legion" for the third or fourth time.

Everyone who ever reads this thread: Make "Legion" a priority. Thank you Bill, again... I love McCullough, and Renault, Pressfield, Breem, Sutcliffe, Martin, de Camp, Cameron, Mace, so many others... that said, Rufio, Flavia, Valerius, Metellus, Diocles (at the end!)... what can I say.

I'm watching "El Cid" this evening. 1961, with Charlton Heston. National hero of Spain; the movie is a total hack job in terms of historicity... but he reminds me of Rufio. And the love interest is Sophia Loren... fun to watch.

Thank you again to all of the authors.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2013 7:37:55 AM PDT
James Mace says:
Richard,

Interesting thing about how "Empire Betrayed" came about. You recall that the reign of Tiberius serves as the background story for my series, and I was simply telling of the betrayal of Sejanus as a backstory for "Journey to Judea". Well, it started taking up so much space that it was becoming a distraction from the main plot. So I cut almost all of those scenes and pasted them into a new document and created the novella around it. It is intriguing for me, as I have two stories coming out that historically take place simultaneously.

James

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2013 7:34:37 PM PDT
Selene, thanks!, I did not know that Cameron's next book was available! Woo hoo!

And James, eagerly awaiting... all three, but always interested in Sejanus (politeness makes me refrain).

-Richard

Posted on Apr 2, 2013 11:52:52 AM PDT
James Mace says:
After a lengthy hiatus, I have finally returned to working on my series, "Soldier of Rome - The Artorian Chronicles". I have two works coming out almost simultaneously (both are finished and at the editor). The first is book five of the series and is called "Soldier of Rome: Journey to Judea". The other is a novella set around the same time and is titled "Empire Betrayed: The Fall of Sejanus". I anticipate both of these coming out in May. I also am starting to work on the final book of the chronicles, "Soldier of Rome: The Last Campaign."

Hope this finds everyone well!

James M. Mace
CEO / Author
Legionary Books
www.legionarybooks.net

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2013 10:54:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 13, 2013 12:01:57 PM PDT
Selene says:
I enjoy David Gibbins, though he does have a habit of throwing everything but the kitchen sink into his plots :)

Two recent reads set in ancient Greece which really grabbed me - Christian Cameron's "Destroyer of Cities", set around the siege of Rhodes (latest in his "Tyrant" series), and Kerry Greenwood's "Medea", a vivid and compelling tale (blood, sex, sorcery and Scythians - who could ask for more?), based on earlier traditions of the Jason/Medea myth, pre-Euripides' play. Who knew that the citizens of Corinth paid Euripides to change the story, making Medea the killer of her children instead of a Corinthian mob?

Posted on Mar 31, 2013 7:09:11 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 31, 2013 7:19:39 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2012 8:45:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2012 8:52:17 PM PST
edbrooks says:
Here's a worthy addition: David Gibbins! He's not "historical fiction." He writes in the same genre as Steve Berry, Dan Brown, etc. but doesn't get as high up on the bestseller lists. Some of his books are much better than others, but here's the list:

Atlantis
Crusader Gold
The Lost Tomb
The Tiger Warrior
The Mask of Troy
Atlantis God

and there's one coming out about Egypt in 2013 sometime.

William Altimari has written another book, a sequel to Legion, earlier this year, called Horses on the Storm.

The Last of the Ninth, by Stephen Lorne Bennett.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2012 6:34:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Apr 13, 2013 12:10:07 PM PDT
Selene says:
Richard, "Cloud Cuckoo Land" is definitely less mystic than "Corn King and Spring Queen", which is considered historical fantasy rather than straight HF. Like most of Mitchison's work, CCL comes with an agenda, and has a noticeably female sensibility despite the central protagonist being male. However it does stick pretty closely to what we know of events at the end of the Peloponnesian War. Given your reading preferences I'd say you might find it interesting but not necessarily to your personal taste - but that's just speculation on my part :) "Cloud Cuckoo Land" intersects at times with M N J Butler's "The Fox", which I'm sure you would like - if you could get your hands on a copy!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012 6:05:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2012 6:14:38 PM PST
I've just ordered "Poseidon's Spear"... very much looking forward to it.

Selene, I found Mitchison's "The Corn King and the Spring Queen" virtually unreadable, filled with all sorts of non-historic semi-mystical drivel. I know it's considered a classic, but then so is Gedge's "The Eagle and the Raven"... Is "Cloud Cuckoo Land" more straightforward in terms of historicity?

I am just finishing Turney's "The Belgae" in the Marius' Mules series.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 8:22:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Apr 13, 2013 12:07:05 PM PDT
Selene says:
I do second Richard's opinion of Christian Cameron's work, which just keeps getting better, IMO. "Poseidon's Spear" knocked my socks off- loved Arimnestos' tour around the ancient world (travelling galley class), including a side trip to Britain. Have just got my hands on a copy of Cameron's latest novel, The Red Knight - a change of pace for Cameron (here writing as Miles Cameron) - it's fantasy based on the warrior culture of the medieval knight.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2012 2:45:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 8, 2012 2:46:40 PM PDT
Selene says:
Another obscure but evocative novel for the Ancient Greece list - Cloud Cuckoo Land by Naomi Mitchison (pub. 1925) which intersects with Butlers 'The Fox", but covers a shorter a period. It begins with the Battle of Notium, first of the two Spartan naval victories which effectively ended the Peloponnesian War and resulted in Athens' subjugation to Sparta, and ends just as the story's hero, Alxenor, is about to set off for Persia with the Greek mercenaries in support of Cyrus the Younger, an expedition later covered in Xenophon's work "Anabasis".

Like Bryher, Mitchison was interested in the effect of wider historical events on ordinary people, events not always covered directly, but more often seen only as they influence the lives of her characters. Mitchison also used the medium of historical fiction to draw parallels between the present and the past, as did Lion Feuchtwanger. In her first novel, "The Conquered", she was inspired by the issue of the Irish Question, in this case the struggle between democratic Athens and totalitarian Sparta reflects the rise of totalitarianism in the decade between the 1920s and 1930s, and the subsequent threat to individual and national freedoms. She also manages to get in a sly dig here and there about the lack of women's rights in ancient Athens, clearly in relation to keenly felt restrictions in her own lifetime.

Posted on Aug 9, 2012 4:41:39 PM PDT
I'd like to throw out three titles that I haven't yet read but all three have been recommended to me by other readers interested in ancient historical fiction. They are on my To Read table, and I think they all look very interesting.

Robert Graves: Homer's Daughter
June Rachuy Brindel: Ariadne
June Rachuy Brindel: Phaedra

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 1:45:12 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 11, 2012 11:12:04 AM PDT
Selene says:
That's true, Laura - I would add Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad (Canongate Myths), Henry Treece's "Electra", and Susan Curran's "Mouse God" to my list. I see that David does have Bryher's "Gate to the Sea" on his list. Though told from multiple POVs, the central character is Harmonia, a Greek high priestess of the cult of Hera. It's set in Poseidonia (Paestum), where the Greek inhabitants have been enslaved and culturally dominated by the Lucani since the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC.

Bryher's Roman historical novels, "Coin of Carthage" - in which two Roman pedlars (and their donkey) have a life-changing encounter with Hannibal - and Roman Wall are also well worth seeking out. (And, no, "Roman Wall" is not about Hadrian's Wall, but set at a Roman army frontier outpost in what is now modern Switzerland). You don't want to read too many Bryher novels at any one time, though - in heavy doses that haunting, end-of-an-era melancholia which marks her work can be very depressing!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2012 10:21:27 PM PDT
Laura Gill says:
It's interesting how a lot of these lists leave out novels with female protagonists.
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Discussion in:  Historical Fiction forum
Participants:  124
Total posts:  944
Initial post:  Aug 27, 2007
Latest post:  Nov 20, 2013

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