Tyrant: Destroyer of Cities

Written by Christian Cameron
Review by Ray Taylor

This is the fifth novel in the author’s series set in the ancient world of Alexander the Great. Alexander himself is now dead, and this novel portrays the power struggle left by the vacuum as his former generals fight like jackals to make his vast empire their own.

The main players are Ptolemy, the master of Egypt, and Antigonus One-Eye, master of Asia. In their midst is the island of Rhodes, a strategic fortress city that neither could afford to cede to the enemy. The epic siege of Rhodes in 305 BC (arguably the greatest siege of the ancient world) is brought vividly to life, as the battle for its capture is played out by Demetrius, the vainglorious son of Antigonus, and Satyrus, the newly crowned King of the Bosporus.

I have slightly mixed feelings about this book. Whilst it is undoubtedly exciting and action-packed with its descriptions of battle and sieges, weapons used at the time, military tactics, and so on, the detail can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Cameron states in an afterword that he is an author and novelist rather than a historian, but he does enjoy all the research and he likes to include as much of it as possible in his novels. Whilst I am sure it is accurate I suspect that there is rather too much of it.

This may be a minor quibble. Cameron proves capable of sustaining the reader’s interest in his characters, and the action hints at the end of more novels to come in the series. This period of ancient history is complex, and Cameron is obviously intent on exploring it even further, so watch this space!