This, one of Duggan's most entertaining novels in a long lineage of sound historical fiction, is a wit-bright exercise in honest double-dealing told in a prose as clear as Mediterranean air. It shines. The Besieger of Cities is Demetrius who tried to pick up the reins of Alexander after the empire burst its political seams. Demetrius is a completely engaging man, whose best energies are devoted to engineering devices for breaking into cities. There is nothing he loves more than a problem city which calls for a new invention. Reared in the slightly barbaric Macedonian tradition, Demetrius is never really alive unless he's skewering enemy armies, but sometimes he finds that bribing the enemy is the better part of valor, and his old love of battle must often accommodate political skill as a weapon. Athens deifies him and calls him its Saviour God, a term he hardly understands- there has been no precedent in Greek theology. But he gives Athens its liberty and permits the city to return to democracy. However tragedy hangs like a canopy over the whole bright tale, for one learns in the prologue that ultimately he fails.... A first rate recreation.