By the Sword by Christian Kachel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I originally reviewed this for the Historical Novel Review.
It is 322 BC and the Macedonian Empire is reeling in the wake of Alexander’s death. Civil war looms as his generals and heirs position themselves to replace their God King – or tear off a piece of the empire for themselves.
Andrikos, a young, fatherless man, faces troubles of his own. He is lured into the seedy underworld of his Ionian hometown, and in his first foray into criminal life he finds himself in far deeper waters than he ever expected. Worse, his family is at risk because of his actions. His only recourse is to join the army, leaving one set of dangers for the larger ones rocking the empire.
After weeks of brutal training – and even worse self-recrimination – he catches the eye of an agent who is part of a secret brotherhood dedicated to the preservation of Alexander’s heirs and legacy. Though he is reluctant to leave his new mates, Andrikos is soon immersed in a clandestine world more secretive than the criminal world he fled and far more deadly than the life as a phalangite offers. And this time, his own contribution could affect the fate of the empire itself.
In this debut novel, Kachel brings the reader on a gritty and powerful foray into Macedon’s conquered realm. It is thoroughly researched, and it has the undeniable authenticity of a soldier (Kachel) writing of a soldier’s life. Andrikos makes for a very sympathetic character, as a young man overwhelmed by his circumstances but eager to rise to the challenge. Recommended, but with a content warning: graphic violence, torture and sexual content. The formatting and cover were well done, and the scattered typos did little to kick this reviewer out of the story.
View all my reviews