Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
The Coin of Carthage by Bryher
#1
This is a curate's egg of a novel. Simply, this book doesn't rate 4 star for me, but neither does it merit 3, or 3.5. So maybe it's a 3.75 - or not quite.

At first glance, what's not to love? This is a short tale (250 pp.) of two Greek traders, Zonas and Dasius, at the time of the Second Punic War. It's beautifully written - Bryher had a really deft turn of phrase, etching vivid scenes with the minimum of words. Her prose is concise and for the most part, extremely engaging. You'll find few examples of the adverbs ('angrily, 'fiercely' etc.) that litter my novels and those of others. It doesn't suffer from 'info dumps', so we gradually learn little details about Hannibal, about Rome, about the campaign up and down Italy, and how the tide turned against Carthage.

But - and it's a big but - the novel suffers from two things that I really didn't like. One perhaps I should ignore, because it was clearly the way Bryher wrote. I thought that it was a modern habit to use commas where it's better to use semi colons or full stops, but this book proved me wrong. Bryher's sentences go on and on, interspersed with so many commas, that one, forgets what the meaning, is. Was. Or something.

I can set that aside, however, because the tales of the two men are good ones. What bugged me the most was the fact that the novel didn't seem to have a purpose. It meandered all over the place, often leaving us not knowing what was happening to another character for long periods (I do that, but not for as long as in this book). In fact, it wasn't clear that it was about two characters for quite some time. By the end of the book, I was wondering what had been Bryher's purpose in writing it? If it is to prove that life is transient, and can be capricious, cruel and random, and is quite likely, ultimately pointless, she did her job. I can take that in a film, strangely, but I don't like it in a book.

Nonetheless, I recommend this novel to those of you with an interest in the time. It's worth a read.
Ben Kane, bestselling author of the Eagles of Rome, Spartacus and Hannibal novels.

Eagles in the Storm released in UK on March 23, 2017.
Aguilas en la tormenta saldra en 2017.


http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor
Facebook: facebook.com/benkanebooks
Reply
#2
Sounds interesting enough, I'll put it in my infinitely long list of books to read. I need to check out a few of yours as well.
"The strong did what they could, the weak suffered what they must."

- Thucydides

Sean Cantrell
Northern Michigan
Reply
#3
That's very kind! :wink:
Ben Kane, bestselling author of the Eagles of Rome, Spartacus and Hannibal novels.

Eagles in the Storm released in UK on March 23, 2017.
Aguilas en la tormenta saldra en 2017.


http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor
Facebook: facebook.com/benkanebooks
Reply
#4
I have an “amazing” idea for a novel (doesn’t everyone) that you may like Ben. Tarquinius Superbus hears of this amazing dude named Pythagoras living in Croton and sends envoys to Croton to persuade Pythagoras to come to Rome. Pythagoras, being a peace, love and brown rice type of dude rejects the envoys request stating the Romans are too warlike. The Romans trick Pythagoras and ask him to come to Rome to help make them more peaceful. Once in Rome, Tarquinius Superbus has Pythagoras tortured to reveal the hidden secrets of the universe, and now armed with this information, the Romans believe they can conqueror the world. This idea has all the right ingredients, murder, mayhem, sex, drugs and rock-roll. The rock and roll comes from Pythagoras “harmony of the spheres.”

Ok, you don’t buy it, how about …….A legionary while serving in Julian’s Persian expedition finds a bottle with, not one genie but two beautiful genies inside. Because the legionary is now their master, both genies musts obey the legionary’s wishes and make him emperor. However, this is more difficult than it seems because the two genies, being of Carthaginian stock, hate all things Roman.

If you somehow can reject the genie idea, then how about seven legionaries from the various property classes go on a three-hour boat tour of the Danube, only to be blown off course and stranded on an uncharted isle. They learn to use the natural resources to build shelter and forage for food while making plans to escape. The strandees then start discovering inexplicable mysteries, including the existence of non-native species, buried hatches leading to secret vaults, the fact the plants are actually made of polypropylene, and cryptic messages are left all over the place.

Ok, don’t like it. Would you settle for a joke? Julius Caesar walks into a bar. "I'll have a martinus," he says. The Bartender gives him a puzzled look and asks, "Don't you mean a 'martini'?" "Look," Caesar retorts, "If I wanted a double, I'd have asked for it!"
Reply
#5
Nice ideas, Steven! ;-)
Ben Kane, bestselling author of the Eagles of Rome, Spartacus and Hannibal novels.

Eagles in the Storm released in UK on March 23, 2017.
Aguilas en la tormenta saldra en 2017.


http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor
Facebook: facebook.com/benkanebooks
Reply


Forum Jump: