Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: "Memnon", a man who could have stopped Alexander the Great

I enjoy reading historical novels, especially those part of history that are less known. Almost everyone heard about Alexander the Great but very few people are familiar with his military adversaries during his conquest of Persian Empire.  

Specifically, one of the those military leaders from Persian side was a man called Memnon of Rhodes. He was a Greek subject of Persian Empire. We need to remember that lands we call Asia Minor, Palestine and Egypt were part of Persian Empire. Asia Minor was populated by ethnic Greeks for centuries by the time Alexander's Macedonian forces overrun the country. Not every Greek in Asia Minor believed that Macedonian had a right to invade their city states (that nominally acknowledged Persian  suzerainty). But it also explains part of Alexander's initial success in Asia Minor.

This fictional novel focus on Memnon's life. Novel is told [dictated] as a memoir by Barsine, Memnon's wife and member of Persian Royal family. We know little about Memnon except that he was a professional soldier and many believed he was the only person who could have stopped rapid advance of Macedonian Forces. However, Alexander's military fortune was on the rise. Memnon died soon after invasion from the wounds he received during the siege of the city of Halicarnassus. Most of the cities and Greek states in Asia Minor joined Alexander's side, thus protecting his supply chain and allowing him to focus on further invasion.

The novel itself is very easy read and beautifully written, though sometimes goes overboard with excessive descriptions. It does not have any unique plot structure, nor does it propose any novel interpretation of historically known facts. Though we know about Memnon from his role in fighting Alexander's Macedonians, the novel is mostly about Memnon's fictional life before the invasion. In general, many events described in book are fiction as acknowledged by the author himself. But many events are accurate too. So, in summary, it is a good read.

posted by David Usharauli

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