An Empty Throne (Alexander’s Legacy, 3)

Written by Robert Fabbri
Review by Martin Bourne

On the death of Alexander the Great, his ramshackle empire, built entirely on his personal charisma and extraordinary military talent, rapidly unravels. His famous ambiguous selection of a successor, “the strongest,” obviously divides his advisors and generals, and they swiftly begin to carve out chunks of territory for themselves. It is the time of the successor states, an era of intrigue and strife, of alliances made and broken, of slights growing to grievance and eventually blood feud.

This is the latest instalment of an immense story with a vast cast, who unfortunately tend to have long, unfamiliar names that sound very similar. However, the character definition is excellent, and helps the reader to keep track of who is who. The best drawn is Eumenes, who is clever, deceitful, and yet extremely loyal to the Argead Royal house, although the derogatory term for him— “sly little Greek”—is rather overused. The title is a reference to his setting an empty chair at meetings to represent the absent infant grandchild of Alexander, the theoretical King of Macedon. Other top-notch characters are Olympias, Alexander’s harridan of a mother; and Antigonos, the elderly one-eyed warlord who is the main antagonist of the second part of the book. The period feel is excellent, and this is a book that is hard to put down.