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A Choice of Destinies Paperback – June 1, 1986

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Baen; 1st edition (June 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671655639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671655631
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,427,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I can only speculate as to the past-life Melissa Scott might have enjoyed as a loyal soldier-officer in the Macedonian army of the Great Alexander, but in what is arguably her best short work, A Choice Of Destinies, the reader is certainly swept into the passion, place, and time of this remarkable man, as Ms. Scott unfolds an epic tapestry that presents Alexander and his generals with a choice they never had in Antiquity: an opportunity to embark upon the trans-Oxus campaign, or face the formidable power of the early Roman republic. An engaging read for lovers of classical studies as well as the science fiction/fantasy enthusiast, A Choice Of Destinies will fire the imaginations of all who've ever wondered what might have been if we had only chosen to zig, instead of zagging, on the slippery slope of Time.
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Format: Paperback
Absolutely terrific book. It could have gone on twice as long; since Scott only takes us through two of Alexander's "alternate" campaigns - against Rome and against Carthage - and doesn't show us the empire-building that must have followed. She is at ease with the military minutiae as well as with the different personalities of Alexander's Friends and Companions (it's amusing to hear about a Queen Cleopatra in the flash-forwards that show us the Empire down the centuries; she might be a Ptolemaic descendent, but through a different, clever history twist.) The only question I would have is that I'm not sure the sarissa was used by the cavalry - it must have made a very unwieldy weapon. You can tell how fine the research is, when quibbles become that detailed. (Also - wouldn't a Roman Consul need to be re-elected every year?) Much more important is how Melissa Scott manages to infuse every page with a terrific sense of suspense. We care and fear for her Alexander. Like Renault, she uses omens and visions woven into the perceptions of everyday life, with a good balance between the religious and the pragmatic. The Syrian seeresss, the augurs are all historical figures. Scott also creates perhaps the best adult Hephaestion in all Alexander fiction (since his point of view never appears in Mary Renault's The Persian Boy.) Nothing is explicitly written about the relationship between the king and his "best friend", but every clue is there if you know where to look; and even Bagoas briefly appears. This is a complete, unexpected sucess, and it's a shame it's out of print. I could do with sequels, both on the immediate aftermath of this book, and in the more distant future of the alternate Alexandrian empire; the glimpses we get are simply riveting. No Dark Ages and space travel by the 16th century AD? Bring it on!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Melissa Scott has created an amazing book here. Historical fiction concerning Alexander the Great has recently captured my attention and I have been eagerly devouring anything to do with the subject. This book, unlike the previous ones I've read, takes Alexander on a different route. What if Alexander skipped India? What if he went towards Rome? What if he had an heir before he started his journey? All of these questions and more create an interesting and exciting story.

I would definitely recommend this story. I thought Melissa Scott captured Alexander the Great's character very well. Hephaistion also plays a large part, and even Bagoas is mentioned. I've never thought about what Rome would do if Alexander came calling, and the author has written a very plausible theory.

Again, I recommend this story. If you're interested in other historical fiction concerning Alexander the Great, I recommend Mary Renault's Alexander trilogy: Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games. I also just finished Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr and would recommend that if you'd like to see Alexander from an Egyptian point of view.

I'd also like to note that I was a bit put off by the cover art showing what looks like outer space. The majority of this story takes place in Alexander's time period.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good read that looks at what may have happened should Alexander the Great turned away from his trip into India and instead returned to defeat rebels in Hellas, take Syracuse, subjugate southern Italy, defeat Rome and then sack Carthage. Included are interludes which show the resultant empire through the late 1500s (bce) including a scene from Alexandria-in-Orbit.

The 'turning point', which apparently is important in alternate histories, is not really stark. Scott has the Sacred Band with Alexander in Bactria, when they were crushed at Chaeronea, so that must have been where it began its turn.

All-in-all, a fine read with some big quibbles.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Always like well written, what if books.
This one is in my top ten.
Would recommend to anybody who
likes this type of book.
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