ALEXANDER VOLUME II: The Sands of Ammon

Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Author, Iain Halliday, Translator , trans. from the Italian by Iain Halliday. Pocket/Washington Square $14 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7434-3437-9

Manfredi (Alexander: Child of a Dream) turns his attention to the Persian campaign of Alexander the Great in the second novel of his epic sequence, focusing on the memorable series of battles between Alexander and a rival mercenary general, Memnon of Rhodes. Duplicity is the order of the day as the fight begins, with Memnon engaging in some well-engineered surprise maneuvers, attacks and ambushes that initially set the great conqueror back on his heels. Alexander knows his superior troops will ultimately carry the day, but even as he sets those forces in motion he can't help admiring the courage of his rival, who denounces the conqueror's greedy, expansionist ways. Memnon's sudden death from a mysterious illness is an anticlimactic end to their battles, but Manfredi hustles Alexander into his next challenge as the conqueror claims Memnon's beautiful wife, Barsine, then faces off with Tyrian naval forces as they attempt to block his passage into Egypt. Manfredi balances the action and characterization that brings both Alexander and Memnon to life, although the style tends to be somewhat generic and it is a letdown to see him gloss over many of the personality foibles that led to Alexander's downfall. Still, readers eager to learn more about one of history's most memorable military campaigns will find much to love in this portrait of a leader who literally changed the map of the world. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
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