Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Wrath of Alexander the Great Review

The Wrath of Alexander the Great by Terry McCarthy

From the back of the book:

“The Wrath of Alexander” introduces a bold new character into the realm of hari-raising adventure: The legendary Commander Barkane of Carthage. Combat-trained down to his fingernails, Barkane is the world’s first military commando. He and his highly-trained crew must journey to the famed fortress-city of Tyre and retrieve secrets of the state so valuable that Alexander the Great himself will turn the continent upside-down to get his hands on them. One problem: Tyre is under siege by one hundred thousand of Alexander’s men, each and every one of them hungering for Barkane’s blood. The commandos must somehow break into the city, secure the secrets, and then escape. It is impossible, of course, and Alexander knows it. But Carthage has sent Commander Barkane, and so Alexander is in for a surprise.

It is filled with action. There is fighting, chases, prison escapes, and pig stampedes. There is hardly a moment of rest which keeps the characters, plot and book moving at a great pace. But the characters and the plot are not sacrificed to the action. In Barkane you get a likeable, if smug, hero who always manages to get himself into impossible situations and then think his way out. And he has a worthy advisory who is savvy, if brutal, and gives our hero a run for his money ensuring that things never get too easy. And things are seldom easy, leading to moments when you want to read faster to find out how he will get away this time. McCarthy adds to the sense of anticipation by foreshadowing things to come by using phases like “he was about to find out that…” that make you want to know how he will find out and what he is going to do about it. There is a lot of plotting and scheming and since you get to see the story from the perspective of several characters you hear the plans of both sides and what they think the enemy’s plans are and it becomes impossible to figure out who is outsmarting who until the plans are all played out. The descriptions of the fighting and injuries are real and vivid enough that you have no trouble imagining the pain and fear that the characters must have felt. It is interesting and exciting historical fiction but it not exactly about Alexander the Great. Although Alexander is in the book and is ultimately Barkane’s nemesis to his mission most of the considerable action is focused elsewhere, Alexander takes a back seat to Barkane and his quest and all the unexpected, improbable, and death defying things that happen to him and everyone around him along the way. A very entertaining book that kept me avidly reading through all the twists and turns to a satisfying end.

I want to thank Terry McCarthy for giving me a chance to read his book by making copies available through the Librarything members giveaway program.

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