With a stranded time traveler in the fourth century B.C. as his narrator, author Geiger brings a fresh take to the rise of Prince Alexandros of Macedonia.
The kickoff of author Geiger’s planned series is an enjoyable, if not entirely original, thought experiment propelling a quasi-fantastic historical narrative. A nameless young time traveler with an interest in classical antiquity—and armed with the pseudonym Ptolemaios and a false bio—is on a strict no-interference mission to observe the mythic Mediterranean circa 338 B.C. But he interrupts an orgiastic pagan ceremony (briefly pretending to be the god Dionysos to prevent a ritual murder of an innocent boy). Captured, Ptolemaios is brought before the battle-scarred, bemused King Philippos of Macedonia. Semibarbarian though he is, Philippos senses something unique about the wily stranger and puts Ptolemaios in charge of minding his son and heir apparent, Alexandros, as their dynasty conquers Athens and Thebes. Yes, this Alexandros will become Alexander the Great, though Ptolemaios, knowing their fates in advance and expecting imminent rescue by his Time Travel Corps, will do nothing to inform his captors of what lies in store, as father and son challenge the mighty Persian Empire. But, in hints and bits, we get the idea that smugly detached Ptolemaios himself has a “great” surprise brewing. While Alexandros remains somewhat vague—with coy nods to his rumored homosexuality and/or incest with his mother—and the narrator an aloof, callow cipher, Geiger eschews distractions of sci-fi gadgetry altogether to present facts and suppositions about Alexandros and his era (including his memorably monstrous mother, Olympias) in novelistic detail and occasionally questionable modern vernacular (Philippos: “Wham! We punched them in their kissers. You shoulda seen it”). Readers will look forward to future installments.
Pop-edutainment; a clever reliving of ancient Mediterranean history.