Michael Joseph [Publication date 03.05.18]
A stand-alone novel from the bestselling author Conn Iggulden which is based on historical events related in Xenophon’s ‘Anabasis’, otherwise known as ‘The Persian Expedition’, which is available via Penguin Classics. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India and the first half of this novel covers the attempts by his brother Prince Cyrus to overthrow Artaxerxes. The attempt fails and the Greek mercenaries employed by Cyrus, including Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy’s empire, without support and little food or water. This sets the scene for the second part of the story where the young soldier and student of Socrates, Xenophon leads the survivors against the Persian army and their bid to reach the sea and Greek territory.
Plenty of action to be had, although the battles are described briefly and not dwelled upon like say the books of Bernard Cornwell. The descriptions of the time help you immerse yourself into the story, although he does seem to describe the toilet habits a little bit too much!
I won’t give the various subplots away, save to say this is an enjoyable historical novel and Conn Iggulden has the knack for penning a classic page turner. If like me you miss the works of the late, great David Gemmell this novel will be one for your bookshelf.