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5.0 out of 5 starsArimnestos beyond the Pillars of Hercules
Reviewed in Canada on April 15, 2019
Spear of Poseidon is, as one might expect, largely a tale of the sea. We follow Arimnestos from emotional ruin to something like oblivion, then a slow return to himself - yet, all the while he remains the Arimnestos of the earlier books as well. The western Mediterranean and further still are Center stage and Cameron is as at home there as he is in the Aegean.
The author lives in Toronto (my hometown) and did his homework before writing historical fiction set in the early Greek classical period. I can't wait for the next book in this series about atrue Greek warrior.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2012
Christian Cameron is now starting to emerge as one of the leading historical novelists of the day. I first read 'Tyrant' some 5 years or so ago and loved the deep Hellenic flavour and character depth of the cast list but thought the style too slow to gain mainstream popularity. Then he seemed to swing to far over to the 'action packed' super hero stylee and I felt lost something as a result, though he seemed to gain mass appeal. Now he seems to have his writing absolutely spot on! Perfectly balanced between historic detail and action. His character's are flawed and believable, his story lines are random enough to keep you on your toes and his heroes though super tough are now fallible, and don't always get the girl.
All of which means I find myself giving him an unprecedented third 5 star award!
Plot synopsis (as unspoiling as possible)
This was a wonderful little greek Odyssey, seemingly inspired well by THE Odyssey. Arimnestos returns from Marathon to find trajedy waiting for him at home and decides to end it all by throwing himself off a cliff. He is pulled out of the waters and saved from probable death only to be lashed to an oar as a galley slave by his seeming saviours. This marks a two year voyage that will see him escape.. (come on it would have been a damn boring book otherwise) jion a brotherhood, indulge in a bit more piracy, brave the Atlantic, pop to Britian..... Look it's a huge adventure best not spoilt by the likes of me!
What Cameron can do better probably even than Cornwell and Robert Low now, is write a chaotic historical yarn that still gels as a story rather than feeling just like a random series of events. He does this by the very clever 'first person' telling of the tale, so you are sitting on the shoulder of Arimnestos through out, and the human narrative and relationships which gives the story a series of sub 'soap' plots in addition to the action and adventure. This not only adds depth and dimension but gives a real feel of the camaradarie of men at war. Add to this Cameron's own passion for the period and subsequent research and the result is something quite special I think.
I did worry after the brilliant 'God of War' that this would be a bit of a return to Cameron's more 'bread and butter' off the peg style, but not a bit of it, I think he is much better than that now.
Top stuff, just go careful in all that re-enactment malarkey Christian we some more of this.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2019
Obviously this is filling in the great gap of time between Marathon and Themopylae etc and an unusual exploration of such a voyage on those seas. Unfortunately this is by far, I think, the least compelling of the series...as it inevitably must be given the scale of events in that period and Cameron's own particularly explosive style. I once loaned a classics master Pressfield's "Gates of Fire" which he returned soon after with the stuffy comment "pornography of violence": Cameron's writing certainly has similar force but attention drifts from sections of this volume
5.0 out of 5 starsA great continuation of the saga of Arimnestos
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2015
So where can Cameron take us? Arimnestos of Plataea is a grown man now, fully trained and experienced. He has fought in and won one of the greatest battles of the age. But after Marathon, the world has changed, and so has our hero. Life as he has known it has gone.
It is all too wasy for a writer with a series to fall into a rut. Too easy to just keep telling the same story over and over again with minor variations or just to continue to tell a saga in fairly repetitive chunks. A few authors will, once their series is settled, run off at a tangent to explore new ideas and new themes and styles. It can be a gamble, as some readers will always just want more of the same. But if it’s done right it can invigorate and frshen an ongoing series. Sort of like a sorbet palate cleanser between courses. With Poseidon’s Spear, Cameron has done just that.
This is not a tale of war or family. It is not a tale of Greeks and Persians. This is the very spirit of adventure. A series of events conspire to see Ari at sea once more, where he falls foul of the powerful and dangerous Carthaginians and finds himself a slave, tortured and tested to the limit of his endurance. Really, there is too much in terms of twists and turns, changes and stories in this tale to relate them individually, and that would just ruin the book for you. Essentially, once he is freed from the clutches of the unpleasant Carthaginian ‘Dagon’ he sets off on his greatest adventure, collecting new friends on the way, including other former slaves.
The Carthaginians control the trade in tin, which is needed by smiths and armourers across the Mediterranean world, and Ari and his friends soon form a plan to secure tin and make themselves rich. Not through trade with Massalia or Carthaginian Spain, but by going directly to the source: a misty, cold semi-mythical island far to the north that one day will be Britain. Of course, to get there by ship requires that a sailor pass the Pillars of Hercules and sail out into the great western ocean. In those days, with the ships of the Greek world, such a journey was all but impossible and only legendary sailors of myth had done so comfortably.
This begins a journey that will see Romans and Africans and Greeks and Gauls sharing ships, making and losing fortunes, finding and losing loves, all as they journey in search of the source of tin. In the process, Ari will pick up an Illyrian prince (whose own fate forms the last part of the book), become a hunted man and an enemy of Carthage, shed his preconceptions of the non-Greek world and open himself to the great wealth of experience that is the west.
For the reader, seeing the Pre-Roman west through the eyes of a wonder-filled Greek is a fascinating process, and it certainly made me wish I could go back and rewrite some of the Gallo-Roman work I have penned with one eye on this fascinating portrayal of the world.
As always, Cameron’s experiences with the military and reenactment inform his text and give everything a realism and accuracy that few could match. But what came across more in book 3 was the surprising level of knowledge the author seems to have concerning the world of ancient ships and sailing. I can only assume that among his talents and experience, Cameron has also sailed ships somewhat. And I am quite stunned by his portrayal of pre-Roman France, Spain and Britain, considering Cameron’s Canadian residence and American nationality. It feels accurate and immersive.
All in all, a departure for the series, a wonderful palate cleanser, and yet at the same time a great continuation of the saga of Arimnestos of Plataea. Oh, and the conclusion? Well Ari has now a new and great enemy out there somewhere we know will come up again, but also the end scenes come as something of a surprise, and set up the opening of book 4 beautifully.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 6, 2015
This thrilling and exciting book by Christian Cameron is the 3rd volume of the "Killer of Men" series. The story-telling is again of a very high quality, and the author has the ability to bring all his characters, whether real or fictional, vividly to life. Like it predecessors the book contains a lot of quality historical details, including an informative glossary and also notes on Names and Personages. The main character of the book and also the narrator of these stories is Arimnestos of Plataea, who after the famous Battle of Marathon of 490 BC, which brought him fame and glory, returns home only to find that his wife Euphoria has died in childbirth. Out of desperation he throws himself of a cliff into the sea, only to be pulled up and to be placed as a slave to an oar of a Phoenician trireme. And so a journey begins for Arimnestos which will take him beyond the edge of the known world in a quest for freedom and revenge. A really great book, one I would like to recommend to anyone, because its a "Fantastic Ancient Greek Tale"!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2012
Mary Renault used to be the writer on ancient Greece whom I thought was best able to open a window onto that long-vanished world. I did not think anyone could ever surpass her.She is still pretty good but with this 3rd vol. in "The Long War" series, Christian Cameron surpasses her!This is his best book so far.The character of Arminestos of Platea is now fully developed and you completely sympathise with him as you red this novel and his adventures as he escapes from slavery, sails through "The Pillars of Hercules", cruises "The Outer Sea" and finally reaches "Alba"-Britain are gripping. Camerons knowledge of ancient Greek ships and sailing is immense but never gets in the way of the narrative.This series just gets better and better!-highly recommended.