211BCE. The Roman invasion from the western seas is imminent, and from the south the Spartans are burning and pillaging their way north.
Battle-hardened Philopoemen believes the Achean League is facing annihilation if it does not arm. But without a formal army or cavalry, they don’t stand a chance. Convincing his friend and healer Alexanor that the threat is real, together they begin to build a massive cavalry guard from the ground up – one that will fight on all fronts.
It is the last roll of the dice for the Achean League. But Alexanor knows Philopoemen is one of the greatest warriors Greece has ever known – the New Achilles. The Last Greek.
Thank you to Alainna at Orion for giving me an ARC of this copy. The cover design is awesome and its so rich I love the way of the ancient world it describes.
This is a tale of a hopeless pursuit amidst dogged determination. A tale of heroism, love, war, and sacrifice. For there is so much to fit here, that Christian Cameron is at his best. There are epic descriptions of battles, of phalanxes fighting each other left-right and center. You will find characters you love. And characters you hate. The women of this novel, Aspasia and Philla are the towering blocks of this entire story. Watch out for them and keep a certain eye. There is a silver lining to them.
The amazing historical detail, the awesome writing, the technical details are all awesome. I did feel in some parts, that the pacing became a bit slow. That was due to the fact Christian spent a lot of time researching the minor political differences that Phillopoemen had to deal with there. There are so many details that I didn’t even know about, the fact that the Greeks were cheering on Hannibal and that Phillip of Macedon struggled to keep a full army, all the time while the Romans had plenty of man-power. This novel to me foreshadows the fall of Greece. It doesn’t show a future, an alternate history where the Greeks defeat the Romans. The Romans will defeat their rivals because of two things: Money and Manpower. Even if Hannibal could defeat so many Roman armies, he could not replenish his men so easily.
I also like the fact that it shows that in this novel: A Greek is a Greek’s worst enemy. Consider the Spartan tyrant, Machanidas who with Nabis of Sparta tried to rebuild their once lost glory so they could take their power once more…and then you begin to realise Rome’s immense power and influence was behind all of this. Roman money was more than enough to split the Greeks. The Achean League that Phillopoemen had under his control was difficult to manage, and not easy to train troops.
The Romans had immense man-power, as compared to the fact that when the Hellenistic World descended into its Game of Thrones Style conflict, it wiped out many veterans of Alexander’s wars against Persia. The Hellenistic World I think struggled to adopt the Roman formation sucessfully, and the leaders they needed to fight the Romans like Phillopoemen were always hampered by one thing: Ambitious Greeks wanting to suppress Phillopoemen. I mean even under Ptolemy, the Egyptians too became their worst enemies. They too had suffered from Greek oppression, and they had led a revolt against Ptolemy V, which made him lose parts of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt as well. The Ptolemaics wiped out this part of history and it isn’t well known.
This book brings a lot of history, but to put in this perspective: The Greeks of this new era are fighting in the Macedonian fashion. The old Greek short spear has been abandoned. So expect to see phalanxes on the scale of Alexander’s phalanxes when you see combat. It’s a big story full of exciting characters and great dialogue. Honestly, Alexanor is a great character, and while there is hope, I can’t help but feel sadness because when you look at the history that is written, the Romans just win and conquer Greece and destroy the Hellenistic World. I wouldn’t have doubted if some wise Greek statesmen had the ability to see this.
Overall, a 10/10 from me. Great visual descriptions, great battle scenes, and a rugged determination to fight the Eagle of Rome that will one day, spread its wings over the entire world. But there are stories like this, stories of untold heroism, stories of those warriors like Alexanor and Philopoemen and Mithrades and Surena and Hannibal that fought against the might of Rome. It is these stories that you should give attention too.
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