- Paperback: 338 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 7, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1463653700
- ISBN-13: 978-1463653705
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 301 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,557,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fires of Alexandria Paperback – July 7, 2011
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About the Author
Thomas K. Carpenter resides near St. Louis with his wife Rachel and their two children. He earned his degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the University of Missouri Rolla. After finishing up his M.B.A. in the summer of 2006, he returned to his roots of writing fiction. When he’s not busy writing his next book, he’s playing soccer in the yard with his kids or getting beat by his wife at cards. He keeps a regular blog at www.thomaskcarpenter.com.
Top customer reviews
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Second, I confess, I’m not usually a historical reader, so my perceptions may be slanted by my lack a familiarity with the genre. Not being an ancient history buff, my reading wasn’t diminished comparing the story with facts, either. But I appreciated that there were notes at the end of the book indicating what was fact and what was fiction, and I was surprised how much truth was woven into the storyline.
That said, I’m sure historical facts back up the horrible treatment of people in the book, but I found the squalor and abuse so off-putting that I had to take breaks during my reading to distance myself from its realistically historic picture. So I’d say the characters and story drew me in effectively, though I was disturbed by the violence and constant threat overhanging the inventor and her niece. I’m sure bad things happen these days, but it seemed so societally pervasive that I’m very glad that era is past.
I most enjoyed the idea that the great inventor was actually a disguised woman. Her clever creativity and imaginative inventions are among the most absorbing parts of the story.
Fires of Alexandria graphically portrays a slice of ancient life; if that is the sort of historic read you prefer, this one is worth your while. I think I’d rather gloss over the deplorable abusive conditions and stick with sanitized history texts.
The more important part of the plot concerns Heron, the master artificer of Alexandria and the mechanical war machines Heron designs and manufacturers for a barbarian king from a region north of the Roman Empire. A little twist is that Heron is impersonating her dead twin brother as the laws and customs of Alexandria and Rome do not allow women to own businesses and perform men's work. The penalty if found out is death. As one can gather from the construction of the mechanical war machines and soldiers, the plot diverges from actual history.
The novel is fairly well written but there are some grammatical and editing errors. The story flowed well enough for me that I found the errors to be small nuisances rather than major distractions. A nice and useful touch is the afterword explaining some of the actual history.
The only thing stopping me from rating it five stars was my confusion in the first half of the book over Heron's gender. I'm not going to say anything more, as I don't want it to be a spoiler, but maybe it was just my interpretation which was off?
The story kept me turning the pages. I love all the nods to history throughout the book, and this is certainly my favourite type of historical fiction. Now I want to revisit Alexandria with even just the small glimpse of its history I got from reading this book.
I've already bought book #2 in the series and am loving the reintroduction to the characters I came to care about.
The main problems are the pedestrian style and the uninteresting characters. The characters do not come to life. It was a chore to finish the book.
I felt this book was maybe a series of short stories rather than a coherent book. It is really divided into two related but different plot flows. I felt it jerked along rather than smoothly told a story. There were some areas where Heron's gender and the use of male pronouns confused me. In some places where Heron was alone or in first person-mode, "he" was used and I wasn't sure who that was.
I started wondering where the fact (and historical fiction) left and the non-historic fantasy fiction began. I liked the evolutionary deviation that steam technology took, but got confused wondering if an army took Alexandria from the Romans.
I seem to remember some typos that made me think this book wasn't edited well. I was surprised to discover that it is actually "in print" in addition to being an e-book.
Overall a good book. I will try to read more by Thomas Carpenter.
Combining a barbarian from present day northern Europe with a "man" from the ancient city added another layer to the intrigue swirling in the famous town.
A quick, enjoyable read filled with information presented in understandable language and good writing.
Most recent customer reviews
Period... but this one fell a little short.Read more