A young man with a mission must travel to the island of Lesbos in volume four of a historical fiction series set in ancient Greece.
It is August 427 B.C. and a man named Arion finds himself in a precarious situation. Arion owes money to an unpleasant individual known as Smerdis and he has only eight days to repay his debt. The stakes are high for Arion, as failure on his part will end in his own enslavement. His only hope lies in sailing to the city of Mytilene (on Lesbos), where he will attempt to save his family estate from his treacherous Uncle Erxandros. Meanwhile, the Peloponnesian War is under way and the Athenian empire has just finished suppressing a revolt in, as it just so happens, Mytilene. Initially, the Athenians would like to put to death every man in Mytilene and sell all of the women and children into slavery. Athenian hearts soften, however, and the harsh orders are revoked. The only problem is that a ship has already been sent to carry out the orders. The Athenians must now send a faster vessel if the people of Mytilene are to be spared. Luckily for Arion, he is not only headed in that direction, but he is also a powerful oarsman. After obtaining a rowing position on the ship carrying the rescindment order, he has quite the set of tasks ahead of him. Fortunately, Arion’s duties are ones that manage to make excellent use of the time period that the story portrays. The threat of enslavement and massacres were, after all, not alien concepts to the ancient Greeks, and Arion’s challenging situation is based on historical events. But Sten’s (Life After Death at Ipsambul, 2015, etc.) dramatization of the hero’s predicaments often leans toward the obvious, such as when the reader is told: “To Arion this ship is a symbolic connection between this shore and that, as ships always have been, whether for commerce or war.” The reader is likely to already know the many uses for ships, and while Arion does eventually proceed on his way, such sentiments only manage to slow this otherwise well-paced action tale.
Alive with the difficulties of an ancient era, this Greek sailing adventure remains hampered by portions of overexplanation.