Shadow of the Lion: Blood on the Moon

Written by W. Ruth Kozak
Review by Charlotte Wightwick

This novel tells of the first years after the death of Alexander the Great, when his generals fought one another for possession of his empire, using all of the weapons at their disposal. In the aftermath of his death, armies are pitted against each other, innocents are killed and children used as political pawns, and even Alexander’s body itself is used as a potent symbol of power and control.

This novel has a wide, ambitious sweep, following a number of characters through the turbulent years following Alexander’s death across Persia, Greece and ancient Macedonia. This is both its strength and its weakness: giving the novel breadth and interest, but meaning that the reader’s attention and empathy is spread too thinly among a wide range of characters. There are some intriguing characters among the cast: Adeia, the teenage queen to Alexander’s childlike brother; Ptolemy, another brother to Alexander, and the one general who was content to take what he could hold and build one of the greatest dynasties of the ancient world; and Nabarzanes, a Persian courtier who transfers his allegiance from Darius to Alexander, and then on to Alexander’s son. Despite this, somehow none of them are ever developed enough as characters for the reader to become deeply involved with them.

As a result, the novel lacks emotional depth and never truly engages the reader, despite the epic nature of the story.