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CPB Gold Award

Book Review:
Gifts of the Gods: Fire and Ash

Candlelight Reading, Dec 2020

Day 8 of the Coffee Pot Blog Tour

Title: Gifts of the Gods: Fire and Ash
Author: Thomas Berry


One word..WOW!

I have to admit that although I studied Ancient Rome when I learnt Latin, the most I know about Ancient Greece was what I learnt from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series when I was a teen, and that really only covered the Greek Gods, so I was both looking forward and dreading reading Fire and Ash. I was dreading reading it because I know nothing about the Peloponnesian War, but I was also really looking forward to it because the blurb was irresistible alluring. I did throw myself into the deep end by starting with the last book in the series first, but thankfully I found that this did not hinder my enjoyment at all, for I soon got to grips with who the characters were and what the situation was.

This story is jam-packed with action. It really does have it all. There are battle scenes, conniving politicians, cruel executions, as well as several, what are you doing? Why are you not listening to him? He knows what he is talking about, moments!! This book had me on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion.

By telling this story through five very different points of view, I felt the author gave a very balanced account of the war. But as so often happens with multiple points of view, I found myself favouring several of the characters, Timandra being my absolute favourite.

Timandra's narrative is a moving love story, but it is also used to show the duplicity of one man, who I have to admit I have since Googled, called Alcibiades. Timandra falls deeply in love with Alcibiades, but Alcibiades is this very slippery character who often plays one side off against the other, and his almost constant changing of allegiance was enough to give anyone a headache. No wonder he made so many enemies! And although I think Timandra is a fictional character, I thought she really helped to tell Alcibiades' side of the story. We learn why he did what he did and what happened when his advice on military strategies was not taken seriously – despite all his duplicity, this man knew what he was talking about. This novel has certainly piqued my interest in this man, and I am looking forward to learning more about him.

Likewise, I took to Lissy, and I think the reason why I favoured the women so much in this book is that they see things very differently to the men. The men see glory or failure in war; the women see pain, suffering and the pointlessness of it all. I thought it was inspired to use women protagonists to help tell this story. I have read many fiction books about Ancient Rome where the protagonists are dominantly male, so it was a real treat to have female protagonists for a change.

I thought this novel was fabulous in every way. It is a real page-turner and one I could not put down. I will certainly, when time allows, be reading the first two books in this series.

Review by Beatrice Rivers

Candlelight Reading

Fire and Ash