G668 Book Review of The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton
Author: Stephanie Thornton
Publisher: New American Library
Type of book: 330 PME-322 PME, 308 PME, Macedonia, Alexander the Grat, wars, conquer, friendships, relationships, marriage, kingdom, India, Persia, insatiable greed, intrigue, murders, poisonings, Achilles and Patroclus relationships, Greece
Year it was published: 2015
We are the women who loved Alexander the Great. We were lovers and murderers, innocents and soldiers.
And without us, Alexander would have been only a man.
Instead he was a god.
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…
There are quite a few characters, but they're easy to remember and to distinguish from others: Alexander the Great of Macedon has a huge insatiable appetite and his war trophies seem to be far more valuable than the cost of getting it. He is also best described as a bit flighty to his captives and is very loyal to his best friend Hephastion. I also feel that he doesn't really have a sense in judging people accurately, at least ones that are closest to him. Thessalonike is Alexander's younger half sister who cares more for weapons and learning to fight rather than feminine pursuits. She ends up being stuck in Macedonia and she resents that she can't ride and fight with her brother. Hephastion is Alexander's closest friend and is one of the few people who can convince him to either listen to people, or to be more in control of himself. He is extremely intelligent and is there more for Alexander than himself. Drypetis is the daughter of Darius III, and she is often described as plain, especially when comparing her to her sister Stateira and her mother. She is the scientist, fiercely protective of those close to her and often butts heads with Hephastion. Roxanna is best described as someone who will stab and kill to get what she desires, and she seems to have very little conscience regarding her own actions. (She scares me far more than Olympias, if that can be possible.) She is also very headstrong and incredibly determined to rise to the top.
Underneath the god reputation, lies a vulnerable human being
The story is written in first person narrative from Thessalonike's, Drypetis's, Hephastion's, and Roxanna's points of view. While Alexander is there, he is not the focus of the story which sounds odd because these women and man are the closest to him, but instead these characters are the ones that take center stage. Alexander is stripped away from myths and being seen as god and instead the reader sees him as an all too human man who makes mistakes and who is also highly charistmatic. With that being said, I really, really would have loved to read more about Alexander's mother, Olympias. (Seriously, someone you don't ever want to encounter in a sunlit or dark alley without a dagger or two.) The beginning and the ending of the book are its strongest points, and will haunt you for better or worse long after you turn the page, and while middle is also strong, its not as strong as beginning and end.
If I might be honest, this book didn't have that oomph that Tiger Queens possessed, yet despite that, a highly addictive story for both newcomers and experts of Alexander of Macedon. What is also unique is that I think this is the first time that a male POV was included in one of her works. (I haven't read The Secret History nor Daughter of the Gods, but I guess they don't have the male POV.) I barely know anything about Alexander the Great, aside from the fact that he could be seen either as Genghis Khan or Napoleon in terms of conquering the whole known world, and that one of his generals, Ptolemy was an ancestor to Cleopatra, but I really had a delightful time reading and finding out more about him through the eyes of Drypetis, Thessalonike, Hephastion and Roxanna. I also was impressed at how she is capable of carving out the characters' personalities that don't match those in previous books, and that they feel incredibly human. She is also talented at setting up the atmosphere and how genuine it feels, which rather means if the reader isn't comfortable with homosexual acts being portrayed as normal, or if the reader isn't comfortable with worship of old gods, then this is really not a book to go into. Other than that, whatever you might be seeking will be found here; intrigue? Check. Strong female characters? Check. Romance? Check. Despicable female characters? Check, Adventure? Check. Torture? Check.
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5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)