Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jamshid and the lost Mountain of Light by Howard Lee

"Jamshid and the Lost Mountain of Light takes you back 2500 years to the palaces of ancient Persia, where a coup is being plotted. Jamshid is the son of the Grand Vizier to the Emperor, who finds his world turned upside-down as the story unfolds. Suddenly his parents are banished from the Empire, leaving Jamshid alone in the care of his tutor, Parthesus. Suliaman is a court official who will stop at nothing to take over the throne of the global superpower. Jamshid and Parthesus discover the plot - but can they save the Empire? The suspense and thrills of Jamshid's struggle against Suliaman - and himself - are guaranteed to grab the attention of readers young and old."

The inspirations and themes of the book were discussed in a recent interview by Darius Kadivar of

"I particularly liked the battle scenes in your book between the mythological animals the Karibu and the flying Griffin Ghoreed or the secret landing on the Persian Gulf shores of the Egyptian Army led by the villainous Vizier Suliaman. It reminded me of some of Ray HarryHausen?s classic films that personally delighted me as a kid such as Jason and the Argonauts or The Golden Voyage of Sinbad or more recently like in the Swords and Sandals film Troy with Brad Pitt. You also illustrated your book with your beautiful drawings. What were your visual references or influences for these scenes?"

Howard LEE: That?s a very perceptive question! I love the Sinbad films, and they were definitely in my mind when I wrote the book. I wanted to have some of the archetypal feeling from the ?Arabian Nights,? the ancient Greek legends, and the Gilgamesh stories in my book. One of the ideas that interests me is how tales move from factual to legendary to mythical over time, which is why I have blended historical fiction with fantasy.

The visual influences for my illustrations were the reliefs at Takht-e-Jamshid, and the tile pictures at Susa. The sculptures are exquisitely stylized to the point where every curve is in harmony, an elegance of form echoed by modern sculptors such as Hepworth, Moore, and Arp. I wanted to keep that style in my illustrations. I also wanted to use the side-view representation of people, in keeping with the style at Takht-e-Jamshid."

Darius Kadivar: "Your book was showcased at the British Museum with the very successful exhibition ?Forgotten Empire? on ancient Persia. Jamshid?s quest for the stolen Royal Kuh-Nur diamond for which his father Daniel (a faithful and competent Vizier of the Persian King) and family are unjustly banished could be a good metaphor for many Iranian expatriates forced into exile since the revolution. Without revealing the end of your story, but isn?t Jamshid?s searching for the diamond revealing an Iranian characteristic in general throughout their history which is: an eternal desire to see the return of harmony, peace and justice in their ancient land?"

Howard LEE: "I think it is an eternal wish of good people everywhere, to see harmony, peace and justice in their land. The question is: what is the driving force? If it is revenge, hatred, or greed then it is unlikely to bring about those goals. In my book I refer to the privileged nature of the royal court, but that at every opportunity the poor were given charity. Of course I don?t know how historically accurate that is, but I do know that the strength of the empire of Cyrus and Darius was built on a sense of fair dealing and, for its day, a revolutionary view of human rights. I was impressed with the book ?Daughter of Persia? by Sattareh Farman Farmaian, who by her own account sought to bring harmony between the two Irans that have been in discord since at least the 1960s. I learned early on in my contact with Iranians that nobody can trick an Iranian like another Iranian, and I see that as a symptom of a deeper ill. Some seek a return to the old days, but the seeds of discord were there then. Some embrace a hatred-fuelled rejection of the old days, but as we know, this also doesn?t heal the rift. Others blame ?The West?. Whilst it is true the West, including my own country, has a long history of interference in Iran (from the ?Great Game? of keeping France then Russia out of India, to the oil and cold war politics of the 20th century), I think the social divisions within Iran also had a role to play in the way things turned out, and how they are now. I believe only the ways of compassion and mercy, at a practical and individual level, such as practiced by Sattareh Farman Farmaian, can bring harmony and peace and justice."

Attila: The Scourge Of God : The story of Flavius Aetius, the last great Roman general, and of his friend who became an enemy : Attila, Ki

Attila: The Scourge Of God : The story of Flavius Aetius, the last great Roman general, and of his friend who became an enemy : Attila, King of the Huns: "This arresting historical novel deals with the rivalry between two great men whose friendship turns to enmity as one (Attila) becomes corrupted by power, while the other (Aetius) is ennobled by it. Ross Laidlaw's masterful portrayal of these two figures is based on his intimate knowledge of the times and is written in a narrative style that vividly evokes the brutality, decadence, and desperation of this fascinating period of history."

"This is a book to get your teeth into, not something to pick up and put down. It is a book about two great men, Attila, King of the Huns and Flavius Aetius one of the great Roman Generals, friends, who turn into bitter enemies.

The book is set in the early 5th century. The German tribes are overrunning the Western parts of the Roman Empire. Nothing and no one can stop the might of their forces. The government of Rome is forced to grant them federate status.

Aetius becomes the power in Rome even over the heads of a weak and viscious emperor and his mother. In a series of campaigns he takes on the might of the Huns and forces them to settle peacefully. His one time friend Attila, now his bitter enemy launches an attack on the Eastern part of the empire and in the ensuring battle both men have everything to lose if they are defeated.

The novel portrays brilliantly the brutality of war and the blatant disregard for human life in this period of history and is a must for anyone interested in that period." - J. Chippindale

The Sword of Hannibal: Books by Terry McCarthy

With Rome and Carthage on the verge of a final confrontation, the mercenary Strabo infiltrates Hannibal's army to rescue a kidnapped kinswoman from slavery in exchange for a fabulous treasure.

"What a fabulous debut for author Terry McCarthy. He brings us characters with uncommon depth and dimension. I felt he brought a sadly overlooked era to life with rich detail and texture and a well-studied examination of the tribes and nations filling the landscape of 200 B.C.
I found myself yearning for greater background on the emerging technologies of this fertile period in history, but it probably would have bogged down a perfectly-paced story." - Guy Gordon

THREE'S COMPANY by Alfred Duggan THREE'S COMPANY (FICTION): Books: "It was the Rome of Cicero, Rome at the zenith of her power. When Caesar was murdered by some of his enemies, Marcus Antonius was the first to seize power, and then appeared the young Octavius who bore the name of Caesar.

Who was the mediator between these two, when a second Triumvirate was formed and recognized? It was Lepidus, whom no one took much account of, and whose name few now remember; a patrician, with no idea of how to command an army in the field.

In this novel the history of the years 49 to 36 BC is seen from the point of view of Lepidus. It is the cruelly fascinating, sometimes funny, and, in the end, curiously moving story of a figurehead who tasted power and began to believe in himself."

An historian's final -- and great -- subject

"Norman F. Cantor, who died in September 2004, was this nation's pre-eminent medieval historian. His 1963 classic 'The Civilization of the Middle Ages' has made that era accessible to generations of history lovers. In this, Cantor's final book, he elegantly and concisely chronicles the life of the greatest conqueror of the ancient world.

Cantor's narrative balances beautifully between the personal and the public as he chronicles the life of the Macedonian leader. He shows us an Alexander who perfectly embodied the dichotomies of ancient Greek culture, a man who combined the harsh warrior ethos of Sparta and the rational, philosophical traditions of Athens."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Isle of Stone, The : A Novel of Ancient Sparta

by Nicholas Nicastro Isle of Stone, The : A Novel of Ancient Sparta: Books: "It is a tale of two cities--the legendary duel between haughty, democratic Athens and brutal, unbeaten Sparta. After seven years of bloody conflict, a barren island in a remote corner of Greece becomes the stage for what promises to become a second Thermopylae. Four hundred Spartan soldiers are cut off by enemy ships on a narrow strip of land, starving, without supplies, yet sworn to uphold their indomitable heritage. Meanwhile, all around them, the powerful Athenian Navy masses for the inevitable assault.

As the war of nerves wears on, Spartan nobles and Athenian demagogues maneuver in the background--and two estranged Spartan brothers serve together for the first time. The eldest, Antalcidas, is a legendary warrior hobbled by a damaging secret. His brother Epitadas is envied, popular, and cruel. Together they must overcome a lifetime of hostility to survive the battle of their lives."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Gladiators from Capua (The Roman Mysteries)

by Caroline Lawrence

"March, AD 80. In Rome the Emperor Titus has announced that there will be a hundred days of games to open the new Flavian amphitheatre (now known as the Colosseum). Suspecting that their friend Jonathan is not dead, as they had thought, Flavia, Nubia, and Lupus organie an invitation to Rome on the pretence of witnessing this historic event.

Their search for Jonathan leads them straight to the games, where they must face wild beasts, criminals, conspirators, and gladiators. It's Nubia's turn to employ all of ther courage and talens, and before the end of the story she is called upon to make the most terrible choice.

A heart-pounding behind-the-scenes account of gladiator fights, executions and beast fights makes this one of the most exciting Roman Mysteries yet."

Age group 9 - 12

The Middle East under Rome

by Maurice Sartre

"Histories of the Roman Empire tend to stay close to Rome, so Sartre's summation of what we know about imperial influence in the region then known as Syria is highly welcome. Though the book's heft could be intimidating (and this is but a chunk of a much larger book published in France a few years ago), footnotes and bibliography account for nearly 300 pages, and the main text is skillfully rendered into accessible, almost conversational English. Sartre, a professor of ancient history at the University of Tours, offers an account of major events in the region, but the real treasure is the rich detail about ancient Syria's cultural life. Drawing on archeological evidence as well as historical texts, the author sketches a thriving region dotted by cosmopolitan city-states that were in many cases governed by local rulers with Roman guidance. Sartre traces the early rise of Christianity and the upheaval of the Jewish community following a failed rebellion in A.D. 66?74, placing them within the broader context of a generally "adaptable and flexible" imperial leadership that allowed cultural diversity to flourish so long as Rome received its tribute. Vivid descriptive prose could help this excellent treatise find a readership beyond the world of classical scholars." - Publishers Weekly

Cleopatra and Rome

by Diana E. E. Kleiner

"With the full panorama of her life forever lost, Cleopatra touches us in a series of sensational images: floating through a perfumed mist down the Nile; dressed as Venus for a tryst at Tarsus; unfurled from a roll of linens before Caesar; couchant, the deadly asp clasped to her breast. Through such images, each immortalizing the Egyptian queen's encounters with legendary Romans--Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian Augustus--we might also chart her rendezvous with the destiny of Rome. So Diana Kleiner shows us in this provocative book, which opens an entirely new perspective on one of the most intriguing women who ever lived. Cleopatra and Rome reveals how these iconic episodes, absorbed into a larger historical and political narrative, document a momentous cultural shift from the Hellenistic world to the Roman Empire. In this story, Cleopatra's death was not an end but a beginning--a starting point for a wide variety of appropriations by Augustus and his contemporaries that established a paradigm for cultural conversion.

In this beautifully illustrated book, we experience the synthesis of Cleopatra's and Rome's defining moments through surviving works of art and other remnants of what was once an opulent material culture: religious and official architecture, cult statuary, honorary portraiture, villa paintings, tombstones, and coinage, but also the theatrical display of clothing, perfume, and hair styled to perfection for such ephemeral occasions as triumphal processions or barge cruises. It is this visual culture that best chronicles Cleopatra's legend and suggests her subtle but indelible mark on the art of imperial Rome at the critical moment of its inception.

In this beautifully illustrated book, we experience the synthesis of Cleopatra's and Rome's defining moments through surviving works of art and other remnants of what was once an opulent material culture. This culture best chronicles Cleopatra's legend and suggests her subtle but indelible mark on the art of imperial Rome at the critical moment of its inception."

A Walk in Ancient Rome : A Vivid Journey Back in Time

by John T. Cullen

"What would it be like to return to Ancient Rome and discover what things were really like? A Walk in Ancient Rome is a fascinating journey that takes you back to a world so similar to ours, and yet totally different. A place where people asked the same questions about life, careers, current events, and gossiped much like we do today. A Walk in Ancient Rome contains a narrative so rich that you can almost smell the fresh leather of harnesses, of flowers, perfumes, and baked goods; the sounds of the clatter of hooves on stone, the chatter of gossip and business transactions, and so much more. A Walk in Ancient Rome reveals the daily life in a unique way that puts you on the streets of Ancient Rome, in its shops and neighborhoods, in its forums and Colesium, on its boats and barges, and so much more!"

The Fall Of The Roman Empire: A New History Of Rome And The Barbarians

by Peter Heather

"The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Rome generated its own nemesis. Centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors it called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling the Empire that had dominated their lives for so long. Heather is a leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians. In The Fall of the Roman Empire, he explores the extraordinary success story that was the Roman Empire and uses a new understanding of its continued strength and enduring limitations to show how Europe's barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled it apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome's European frontiers, to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the Empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378, and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain, before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the Western Empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse culminating in the Vandals' defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada: the west's last chance for survival. Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians."

Rome at War: Caesar and his Legacy

by Steven Saylor (Foreword), Kate Gilliver, Adrian Goldsworthy, Michael Whitby

The story of a small town that rose to become the most powerful empire of the ancient world has been an inspiration to generations of people. Even after the collapse of the Roman Empire, many nations and their leaders have styled themselves 'heirs of Rome', emulating its society, technology and warfare. This book details the wars that shaped the Roman Empire, from the Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar and the subsequent civil war between Caesar and Pompey which tore apart the ageing Republic, through the expansion of the early Empire to its 'decline and fall'.

Rome And Her Enemies: An Empire Created And Destroyed by War

by Jane Penrose

"Spanning over a thousand years and an immense geographical area, the Roman Empire was the greatest in world history. At its most powerful, the Empire cast a shadow across the known world, and its legacy continues to influence politics, art and culture around the world today. RomeĆ¢??s power was won on the battlefield, and the greatness of the Empire is reflected in the warlike reputations of the enemies it subdued. Hannibal, the Carthaginians, Mithridates, the Gauls, the Sassanid Persians and the infamous Goths are amongst the forces that battled the might of Rome. Rome and Her Enemies juxtaposes the society and military structure of each of these peoples with those of the contemporary Roman army. Using previously published Osprey material, this book is divided into four chronological sections focusing on major wars and battles, is lavishly illustrated throughout, and colour photographs, artwork and maps support the text to provide a comprehensive introduction to the rise and fall of an empire created and destroyed by war."

The Fall Of Rome: And The End Of Civilization

By Bryan Ward-Perkins

"Was the fall of Rome a great catastrophe that cast the West into darkness for centuries to come? Or, as scholars argue today, was there no crisis at all, but simply a peaceful blending of barbarians into Roman culture, an essentially positive transformation? In The Fall of Rome, eminent historian Bryan Ward-Perkins argues that the "peaceful" theory of Rome's "transformation" is badly in error. Indeed, he sees the fall of Rome as a time of horror and dislocation that destroyed a great civilization, throwing the inhabitants of the West back to a standard of living typical of prehistoric times. Attacking contemporary theories with relish and making use of modern archaeological evidence, he looks at both the wider explanations for the disintegration of the Roman world and also the consequences for the lives of everyday Romans, who were caught in a world of economic collapse, marauding barbarians, and the rise of a new religious orthodoxy. The book recaptures the drama and violence of the last days of the Roman world, and reminds us of the very real terrors of barbarian occupation. Equally important, Ward-Perkins contends that a key problem with the new way of looking at the end of the ancient world is that all difficulty and awkwardness is smoothed out into a steady and positive transformation of society. Nothing ever goes badly wrong in this vision of the past. The evidence shows otherwise. Up to date and brilliantly written, combining a lively narrative with the latest research and thirty illustrations, this superb volume reclaims the drama, the violence, and the tragedy of the fall of Rome."