Tyrant: Storm of Arrows

Written by Christian Cameron
Review by Mary Seeley

The sequel to Tyrant (2008) opens in 329 BC in the aftermath of a crushing defeat for the forces of Alexander of Macedon by an army of mercenaries in alliance with a confederation of the nomadic tribes of the steppes. The mercenaries are commanded by Kineas of Athens, who once led Alexander’s cavalry but is now the lover of the magnificently named Scythian noblewoman Lady Srayanka of the Cruel Hands clan. As the clans muster once more against Alexander, and Srayanka receives the summons of her kinswoman, Queen Zarina, Kineas is compelled to follow her and the other clans east across the Sea of Grass.

Cameron’s novel is epic in its geographic scope and cast of thousands and in the rhythm of its language. The battle scenes are terrifying and bloody, and for all this, the intimate, domestic moments between Kineas and Srayanka are all the more resonant.

Kineas makes a tough yet troubled hero, a daring strategos, deeply concerned for his comrades yet haunted by uneasy dreams. Srayanka is a formidable warrior heroine, quite capable of battling Alexander on her own terms.

However, I did find it heavy going to start with, as the reader is clearly expected to be familiar with the characters and back story from the previous novel, and there seemed to be some unresolved plot threads left hanging. I do not know if there is another book to come in the sequence. My review copy was an uncorrected manuscript proof, so perhaps the published text will have a much-needed list of characters and a set of maps.

That said, it is worth sticking with Storm of Arrows. In spite of some longeurs, it is ultimately a sweeping, deeply moving epic that takes the reader into the heart of a different time and culture.