The Conqueror’s Wife by Stephanie Thornton
ARC, Paperback, 496 pages
December 1, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received for review as part of HFVBT tour
330s, B.C.E., Greece: Alexander, a handsome young warrior of Macedon, begins his quest to conquer the ancient world. But he cannot ascend to power, and keep it, without the women who help to shape his destiny.
His spirited younger half-sister, Thessalonike, yearns to join her brother and see the world. Instead, it is Alexander's boyhood companion who rides with him into war while Thessalonike remains behind. Far away, crafty princess Drypetis will not stand idly by as Alexander topples her father from Persia's throne. And after Alexander conquers her tiny kingdom, Roxana, the beautiful and cunning daughter of a minor noble, wins Alexander’s heart…and will commit any crime to secure her place at his side.
Within a few short years, Alexander controls an empire more vast than the civilized world has ever known. But his victories are tarnished by losses on the battlefield and treachery among his inner circle. And long after Alexander is gone, the women who are his champions, wives, and enemies will fight to claim his legacy…
Is it just me or did anyone else really dislike Alexander in this book? The only time I found him likable was from the perspective of his little sister – even his best friend/sometimes lover disliked his actions fairly often. We see the story of Alexander from those who revolved around him: his friend, his sister, his lover, his enemy – and honestly I found their stories vastly more interesting than the man himself. I found myself anxious for Hephestion to come back on the page (a tiny bit of a crush on him, haha) and I loved Roxana (she really surprised me with how she got her own way!). Drypetis I found a little bit annoying. She was a great viewpoint to see the Macedonians from another perspective and I did love her hatred of and shared scenes with Hephestion, but she sometimes made me weary. And Thessalonike had her moments. As much as this was a story of Alexander, it was a story of all of those around him too.
Thornton writes some great dialogue. As mentioned above, I loved the scenes between Drypetis and Hephestion especially because of the dialogue. There is witty banter, hidden meaning, and snark and spitfire at every turn. At the same time, Thornton had a wide age range of people she needed to represent their thoughts/feelings/and manner of speech. Thessalonike is young and naïve at the beginning of the novel, but you have her in scenes with those a little older, like Hephestion, as well as those who would be her parents age, like Olympia – and Thornton keeps these characters and their mannerisms well defined.
As usual, Thornton carries off an excellent novel of the ancient world that truly brings the people and places to life. I didn’t race through the pages quite as quickly as I have some of her prior novels (I’m looking at you The Secret History!) but I still loved the novel and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this time period.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Also by Stephanie Thornton:
The Secret History
The Daughter of the Gods
The Tiger Queen’s
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