Steven Pressfield's new Alexander novel

Recommend, or otherwise, books on Alexander (fiction or non-fiction). Promote your novel here!

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marcus
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Re: Nicknames & excerpts

Post by marcus »

karen wrote:Chalk down another author who felt that Greeks used diminutive nicknames, at least some of the time: Mary Renault.

In The Mask of Apollo, close friends of the narrator character Nikeratos sometimes call him "Niko."
And in "The Praise Singer", which I read for the first time last week, her main character, Simonides, is called Sim by his family. However, only by his family, which I think might be a significant point to throw into the mix here ...

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Up to Chapter six in Steve's book

Post by jan »

8) I came to this board to post my first reponse to Steve Pressfield's book. I have read the first six chapters, and I will admit that I read the final chapter and the glossary with the coded words as well.

After I read the first six chapters, I treated the book the way men treat women on first dates, I fingered it through to get a look into the rest of it, and then put it away to read again on a second date.

O.K. I have read all of Steve Pressfield's books. The word "terik" naturally caught my eye. (This is in case Steve reads this stuff as I believe his ego won't let him off this page if he has found it yet.) Thanks, Steve. I love the publicity!

The use of figs for women or vagina was revealing to me. I guess Steve knows how to play low and dirty after all. I found that a bit offensive to women!

I have to finish the book before I take off the gloves in this boxing match! I like knowing he knows where to keep his "shine".

I will get you by the "shine" for sure, Steve! I promise!

Nuff said for now. I will read it my way! If it is good, I may even find a way to get it into the house.

And on that note, I will review Vicky Schechter's book for children once I have finished reading it completely. So far, it is fun, fun, fun!

:lol:
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More on Steve's book

Post by jan »

I have finished reading the first three books in Afghanistan Campaign, and am about to start on the next book. I actually am liking Steve's love of writing in this book. So I had to make a comment on something that he has said so far about men loving to chat an d discuss their kills. I really approve this message, steve. I am glad that you put it in here.

But I will discuss it more fully after I finish, but had to toss that one in for now. :evil:
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The Afghan Campaign

Post by ruthaki »

I have to disagree with most of the critics who have panned this book. I could hardly stop reading it until I finished and was immensely struck by the strong and poignant last chapter. I'm a historical fiction writer, also writing on an Alexander theme, so I understand the use of 'voice' and 'point of view' that some of you scholars of history may not. I thought the voice of Matthias was compelling, and the use of the soldier's jargon made the book accessible to anyone who normally doesn't read historical books.
Pressfield's descriptions of war tactics and maneuvres were for me clearly defined and explained so that I could visualize the entire scene as it played out. It was an unusual book, in that it could have been taking place today, not centuries ago. The war is being fought by the tribal people much like they did back then. (Look what they did to the Russians). So in that way it was quite authentic.

I think you have to separate Historical Fiction from your history books. We writers are telling a story, and in the most compelling way we can, to intrigue and to inform and to capture the events in a way that is visual to today's readers. I think Steve Pressfield did that in the AFghan Campaign.

And for the record, I enjoyed all his other books too and look to him as an inspiration for my own writing.
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Re: The Afghan Campaign

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ruthaki wrote:I'm a historical fiction writer, also writing on an Alexander theme, so I understand the use of 'voice' and 'point of view' that some of you scholars of history may not.
I can answer this in three words: The Persian Boy. Hands up anyone who doesnGÇÖt understand the use of GÇÿvoiceGÇÖ and GÇÿpoint of viewGÇ¥ in RenaultGÇÖs novel. :wink:
I think you have to separate Historical Fiction from your history books. We writers are telling a story, and in the most compelling way we can, to intrigue and to inform and to capture the events in a way that is visual to today's readers.
Absolutely. A successful historical novel WILL intrigue, inform, and capture the events in a way that is visual to todayGÇÖs readers. And although I do expect a high level of historical accuracy in a novel that is designated historical, I am able to excuse some anachronisms (although I will most likely point them out) if the story enthralls me. OTH, I may dislike an exceedingly well-researched novel because the storyline fails to hold my interest. Liking or not liking a novel has nothing to do with being unable to separate Historical Fiction from the history books. There are good novels and bad novels and all manner in between!

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Play by Play of Afghan Campaign

Post by jan »

8) Hi Ruthaki, I appreciate your defending Steven Pressfield's works here. He is a great visceral writer. I have not yet finished it, just now about to start Book five, but Book four was so well done and so interesting that I just loved it. I really like his description of Spitamenes. When I finish it, I will tell him how I feel also as he likes to receive words of adulation, so I suggest that you visit his website and write him a note. He would love it! And good luck with your book too. Always, Jan
Lutka

Post by Lutka »

I have Steven Pressfield's The Virtues of War, but I haven't read it yet, I just run through the pages recently, and I noticed he uses the first person, which sometimes irritates me,or,better, it irritates me in the case of Alexander, cause It feels a little akward to me that anyone, as a good writer and expert on Alexander can be,can really try to 'be' Alexander and present with such a secureness on what he felt/was like
I'm definitely going to read the book sooner or later as I read everything on Alexander,but I wouldn't mind having your opinion on it :)
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Post by amyntoros »

I'm afraid that I haven't read the book so I'm unable to give you a review. Pressfield had posted two chapters of the book on the web and unfortunately I found them so dull that I didn't pursue purchase of the novel. And before anyone castigates me for this, I think that two whole chapters is more than enough for me to know whether I like the style and direction of the novel. :roll:

You can find a review of The Virtues of War on Jeanne Reames Zimmerman's Beyond Renault site. It's a less than positive review, but - and I can't stress this enough - everyone is entitled to their own opinion and Jeanne DID read the novel. I believe Virtues of War sold quite well though, and I do know that there are other people (not just Ruthaki) who liked the book, so hopefully they will also contribute their opinions. And when you've finished reading it, perhaps you'd like to review it yourself. :)

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Re: The Afghan Campaign

Post by marcus »

ruthaki wrote: I think you have to separate Historical Fiction from your history books. We writers are telling a story, and in the most compelling way we can, to intrigue and to inform and to capture the events in a way that is visual to today's readers. I think Steve Pressfield did that in the AFghan Campaign.
You're quite right, Ruthaki. Now, I haven't read any of this latest book, but I did read "Virtues of War", which I felt was not compelling, didn't intrigue or inform, and sure as heck didn't capture the events in any way that I felt was historical - as I wrote in a review on Amazon, it read more like a set of general orders from the Duke of Wellington than the memoir of a 4th century BC general.

Having said that, I did rather enjoy it in a perverse way, and I shall read the next book. Whether or not I castigate it depends on what I think after I've read it. It might be as good as "Gates of Fire", or it might be as disappointing as "Virtues of War" ... we'll see.

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Re: The Afghan Campaign

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marcus wrote:. . .I did read "Virtues of War", which I felt was not compelling, didn't intrigue or inform, and sure as heck didn't capture the events in any way that I felt was historical - as I wrote in a review on Amazon, it read more like a set of general orders from the Duke of Wellington than the memoir of a 4th century BC general.

Having said that, I did rather enjoy it in a perverse way. . .
Yet you gave it FOUR stars! No, you didn't post the link to your review, but I searched it out anyway. :) I'm always curious to know what other people feel about a book, especially those whose opinions I respect. And your review went some way to explain why the two chapters I read didn't enthrall me at all. I'm just not that interested in battles. Yes, they're extremely important when writing about a man such as Alexander, but he was so much more than military matters alone. I think about other characters such as General Patton and feel that if a story were written about him that focused only on the warfare - well, it would be a seriously missed opportunity to entertain the reader! The same applies (obviously) to Alexander!

That said, you don't leave yourself much room to maneuver, do you? Only one additional star allowed for a novel that is compelling, does intrigue and inform, and does capture the events in a way that you feel is historical. :wink:

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Tides of Woe

Post by Paralus »

GGÇÖday all.

I might have written this before but, if so, here goes again.

Tides of War was GÇô to me GÇô a bit like the film A Bridge Too Far with one difference: the film had way too many competing acting credits as opposed to the bookGÇÖs way too many disparate theatres of activity.

Not expressed very well, I know. Pressfield in Tides has attempted the impossible: a thirty year war and one central character (aside from the mercenary relating the tale). The problem is that there was no such character. To create such GÇô one that will string the narrative together across three decades GÇô Pressfield settles on Alcibiades.

The problem is that Alcibiades was a bit player in the Archidamian War. At the outbreak of war he can have been little more than an ephebe (his father having died in the Athenian loss at Coronea in 447 that put away Athenian imperial haughter in central Greece). It really is only when he comes GÇ£of ageGÇ¥(30) in the hiatus that is the Peace of Nicias that he begins to take a recognizable part in events. The same is true of his protagonist, Lysander.

The problem then becomes stringing such disparate theatres as Potidea, Sicily and the Ionian war (the sea war of the conflict) together into a coherent narrative. At times this entails wholesale fabrication: a battle (both naval and land) at Ephesus between the two. Such occurred, but, not ever between the two GÇô nor at Ephesus.

Some sections of the novel worked (Arginusae and the trial of the generals for example) but for the most part it didnGÇÖt. Well, not for me. The main problem is the characterisation of Alcibiades. Pressfield paints him as strategic genius misunderstood by all and with the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Crap. Brilliant? Yes. Misunderstood? Not likely. Alcibiades was a scheming, avaricious political bastard of the first order. A moral bankrupt whoGÇÖd change allegiance to suit one end: his own ambition.

That being said, Athens may well have saved herself had she found the funds and will to support the mongrelGÇÖs leadership in the Ionian war.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: The Afghan Campaign

Post by marcus »

amyntoros wrote: Yet you gave it FOUR stars!
I know, and ever since I've been wondering why! As I said, I did actually enjoy it, which must be why I was so generous. On the other hand, it might be that I didn't give it 4 stars - I've had other reviews where I've given something 5 stars, and it's ended up on the screen as only 1!

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Thanks, Amyntoros, for links to reviews

Post by jan »

:D Hi Amyntoros, I enjoyed reading Dr. Zimmerman's professional opinion of the book Virtues of War. Like Steve, she becomes too emotionally detached and cumbersome in her review, but I did at least learn how she feels about it. I appreciated her comments. I will say that Steve Pressfield did send me many professional reviews about the book, and from what I glean, all authors love the publcity, especially good, that they get in order to sell their books. As most of the reviews he sent to me were quite positve and excellent in their observations. Zimmerman's is one of the few that openly tells it like it should be but isn't.

I did not like the book either, and did read it through from cover to cover only to eventually buy it to reread it. On the reread I just gave up midway through as I find it ludicrous. But I realize that he is writing for marines! I would hate Alexander were I a marine I admit.

I have realized my problem in all this study of Alexander. He is a dead topic and all the words and stories about him are only just words. My unique experience in learning him "my way" brings him to life and I realized this last night. To me and for me, Alexander is a living being.

So far all author's imaginations are only author's projections of their own hopes, dreams, and fantasies. Life is another matter!
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Gotta sing Steve's Praises here now!

Post by jan »

:D Well, I finally finished reading The Afghan Campaign. I am taking to reading books now before I buy them since so many lay half read yet. I did finish this one, and have to commend Steve Pressfield again for a really entertaining and fulfilling read.

Now, granted, I know that this is a very visceral book as Steven always loves to write paragraphs full of vivid descriptions of the really gruesome details of war. He did not live up to past reputation in this book as he seems to be involved in some other desire in this communication effort.

But it is full of great details, thoughtful insights into the nature of the times, and he seems to be more interested in developing characterization than in merely intimidating his readers as he did in previous books. He has a chapter in which he analyzes the enemy and his description of Spitamenes is well worth the reading of this book if nothing else is. I loved his insights into the mountain people of Afghanistan, even if some of it seemed to be a bit reminiscent of today's Afghanistan, and occasionally he will make a relapse into Bactria, but usually we are in Afghanistan.

He does do one little booboo that made me wince! His ability to make Alexander take the hit on the neck which was a very serious injury, costing Alexander the power of speech and sight for awhile, and return to his normal self in a such a short time I felt a bit of a tug on the historical accuracy of books of fiction. I would have preferred he made the injury as serious as it is described by historians, but in this case, it seems as though he is checking if the reader knows Alexander at all or is he just a fan of Steve's writing.

Another description of Alexander I groaned about was the idea that at such a young age, he looks like he is an aged old man. I found that a bit dubious at best also.

And finally, I don't like the contrast of the romantic Alexander being so lucky in love and having such a wonderful merry time at his marriage ceremony while our pov character is suffering the pangs and sorrows of misery in his own personal life. I will not give this plot away, but I thought that the heroic Alexander with happiness and romance to be a terrible contrast to our slave boy being tortured by his own unhappy and bad luck.

Steven has an agenda there I dare say.

But his understanding of why men behaved as they did, whether a member of Alexander's army or a member of the adversaries forces is well done and certainly an important asset to understanding the times. I believe that many people are put off by the number of men and tribes killed by Alexander but Steven Pressfield certainly knows how to state a case by which we can sympathize with Alexander and his Macedonians in their efforts to subdue the Asian world.

I like this book. I recommend it. It is courageous, bold, and daring. It has a touch of romance in it, but sadly, that romance belongs to Alexander and we never truly learn anything of him at all, only that of Mathias and the suffering that all army wives endure and all soldiers shoulder. It is a good story, not as good as Gates of Fire. But then we are only on the road with Alexander, and at the back end of it yet to boot. But fortunately, Alexander does make a few personal appearances so that Steve can put words in his mouth for the reader to contemplate and understand. Good move, Steve. I think you need to write a sequel now! :wink:
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Re: Gotta sing Steve's Praises here now!

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jan wrote: I like this book. I recommend it. It is courageous, bold, and daring. It has a touch of romance in it, but sadly, that romance belongs to Alexander and we never truly learn anything of him at all, only that of Mathias and the suffering that all army wives endure and all soldiers shoulder. It is a good story, not as good as Gates of Fire. But then we are only on the road with Alexander, and at the back end of it yet to boot. But fortunately, Alexander does make a few personal appearances so that Steve can put words in his mouth for the reader to contemplate and understand. Good move, Steve. I think you need to write a sequel now! :wink:
Thanks for this, Jan. You obviously enjoyed it. I know that I've been a bit down on Pressfield, at least as far as "Virtues of War" is concerned; but I was going to read this one anyway, and your review certainly makes it sound worth having a go at.

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