Alexander and Alestria

Written by Adriana Hunter (trans.) Shan Sa
Review by Suzanne Sprague

Alexander the Great was crowned King of Macedonia in 336 BC and soon after began asserting his authority through his formidable army, squashing resistance from current subjects, and conquering new lands. He was merciless, yet unfulfilled, until he met Alestria. Alestria led the girls of Siberia, a tribe of young warrior women who wandered the steppes. These girls who loved horses came from various backgrounds, mostly abandoned and abused, and were all adopted, never birthed, by Amazons. Alestria, daughter of the Great Queen of the Amazons, was groomed to be the next queen upon her mother’s death. Prophecy said that the Amazons would disappear when the Great Queen fell in love with a man.

Alexander and Alestria, now queen, meet in battle, and mutual admiration mingles with desire to form a relationship that transcends Alexander’s trysts with his slave and best friend, both male. When they marry, Alexander renames her Roxana.

Told mostly from the first-person perspectives of Alexander, Alestria, and Ania, Alestria’s confidante and serving girl, these parallel storylines read like confessionals. Alexander conveys how his father’s brutal treatment of him contributed to his lust for power and blood. Ania introduces Alestria and serves as the spokeswoman for the Amazon tribe, providing the narrative necessary to understand the implications of Alestria’s infatuation with Alexander. Alestria relays how formative events molded her into a woman who could betray her tribe for a man and describes the anguish that love brings.

Shan Sa’s rendition sticks closely to accepted historical speculation of Roxana’s background and gives humanistic insight into one of history’s most vicious conquerors. Readers captivated by this time period and Amazon lore will enjoy this novel.