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I thought this was a great idea steam punk in the Ancient World under the guiding Hand of Alexander the Great The book takes you on a tour of a mechanized Mediterranean replete with subs, Greek fire spitting warships, tank like siege towers, and magic like you ve never seen it presented before Think of it as Rome meets Steamboy with a dash of Howl s Moving Castle and smidgen of The Hidden Fortress Pillars combines elements of the tired old sword and sorcery genre and reignites them in I thought this was a great idea steam punk in the Ancient World under the guiding Hand of Alexander the Great The book takes you on a tour of a mechanized Mediterranean replete with subs, Greek fire spitting warships, tank like siege towers, and magic like you ve never seen it presented before Think of it as Rome meets Steamboy with a dash of Howl s Moving Castle and smidgen of The Hidden Fortress Pillars combines elements of the tired old sword and sorcery genre and reignites them in this interesting new context From the moment I joined the books salty barbarian and thief protagonists think shades of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser on a witch s submarine I was hooked Constantine keeps the pacing fast which was important to me as I amof a fan of steam punk than Aristotle I highly recommend this books to fantasy fans and well as fans of alternate history The Pillars of Hercules delivers Got this from the library, which was just as well, because I stopped after about a hundred pages This book has some great concepts how technology like greek fire and steam engines can look indistinguishable from magic, a sprawling war saga that stretches around the Mediterranean I don t know much about Alexander the Great, but he seems like a fascinating figure, and I like military history I liked the idea of industrial technology in the ancient world too.But the concept was better than the Got this from the library, which was just as well, because I stopped after about a hundred pages This book has some great concepts how technology like greek fire and steam engines can look indistinguishable from magic, a sprawling war saga that stretches around the Mediterranean I don t know much about Alexander the Great, but he seems like a fascinating figure, and I like military history I liked the idea of industrial technology in the ancient world too.But the concept was better than the execution I think the author would have benefited by tightening up the story We start off with a Gaulish mercenary and his Greek archer buddy who are recruited to help a mysterious Persian beauty and her servant escape the sack of a city by the Macedonians We know the archer likes our Persian princess, but they hardly ever actually speak in the book we know this mostly through second hand thoughts from the Gaul All these characters could have been fleshed outand it would have added to the story.But the other half of the book is from the point of view of a bureaucrat in Alexander s army We get a quick rundown of a bunch of political players, but many of those men exit the stage before anything is really done other than naming them We re given a sense of gravitas, but again it s mostly backstory rather than exposition within the book.Splitting the story between the Macedonians and the mercenaries makes each plot line a bit too thin We re asked to take too much for granted with regard to characterization I never really got settled into either story, and that made the book easy to put down and not pick up after a hundred pages The setting Really cool It s just difficult to access it through this book Full review originally at Fantasy Book Critic ANALYSIS The Pillars of Hercules was a book which I was itching to read simply based on its blurb details A tale of Alexander the great and with major steampunk elements, it seemed too good to be true Lastly I also learned that David Constantine was a pseudonym for SF writer David J Williams I had previously enjoyed his Autumn Rain trilogy and so I was very much enthused to how he would fuse alternate history with his brand of octane action se Full review originally at Fantasy Book Critic ANALYSIS The Pillars of Hercules was a book which I was itching to read simply based on its blurb details A tale of Alexander the great and with major steampunk elements, it seemed too good to be true Lastly I also learned that David Constantine was a pseudonym for SF writer David J Williams I had previously enjoyed his Autumn Rain trilogy and so I was very much enthused to how he would fuse alternate history with his brand of octane action sequences.I m guessing based on the basic blurb and genre contents of the book, many bloggers were interested in it However as I was reading it, I came across several reviews which didn t draw a favorable picture of the book and they were from reviewers whose opinion I do admire They all made various valid complaints about it though I was a bit confused by it all as while I was reading the book, I did come across several of the issues however didn t find them to be that much of a bother To begin with the alternate theory postulated in this tale is that Alexander never died in his Eastern campaign and decides to conquer the west and the Athenian empire Philip the king of Macedonia and mortal father of Alexander is alive and distraught at Alexander s plans He has spies among Alexander s crew and Eumenes a loyal greek general is the person who supplies us with a POV into the Alexandrian camp The team of individuals that are trying to stop Alexander and his party from reaching their objectives is a motley crew consisting of Lugorix the Gaul barbarian, Matthias the Greek archer, Barsine a Persian princess and Eurydice, a person of great interest Things get hairy when Alexander s invasion of Alcibiadia coincides with the first meeting of the princess and the mercenaries however things are never what they seem and thus begins the journey which will see many parties try to reach the Pillars of Hercules as no one actually knows what lies beyond but everyone wants to be the first to find out.A couple of pointers about the book since I knew it was written by the same mind that produced the Autumn Rain trilogy, I anticipated the type of prose, style of the book and its cliff hanger twists The book begins quietly however this docile period extends for only a few pages until the mayhem begins on every page and in almost all POV chapters The action similar to the author s previous books is on a scale which belied belief Adding to the epicness is the presence of mechanical gargoyles, armors, submersible ships, etc things which basically have no reason to exist in that specific time period however this is not the same world as ours and while we share certain characteristics, it has its own unique flavor I for one was completely enthralled by the book s scope and the author s imagination It did not disappoint me at all and so I was a bit stumped as to why the other reviewers disliked this book so much.I ll be first to admit that all the points raised by the reviewers are valid ones and I share their concern in regards to their presence So let s begin with the litany, one of the major ones which was brought up was the choppy prose mode with which the author operates I believe this is the author s quintessential style and previous readers of his books will agree with me about this However it s a style which requires complete focus and attention from the reader as the author slips in lots of stuff in between which makes sense and helps build the overall picture It works for some and doesn t for many, if you fall in the latter camp then this book is not for you The second point that was brought up was the language and swear words used by the characters is very 21st century and it seemed out of place amid the Mediterranean world and this is a very valid point, the author doesn t give any justification for it and this sticks outthan once This however is something which can ruin the read for many readers and is purely subjective as it didn t completely hinder my read Lastly there was a point raised in areview from one of my favorite blogs about the absence of female POVS and this one is absolutely dead on The book would have been so much interesting from the POVs of Barsine, Eurydice and even Olympias had she been alive , the author though is not one to shy away from the female perspective considering the main protagonist of his debut books was a female however his decision is surprising and ultimately one can chalk it down completely to authorial decision and the book is poorer for it.Now on the parts as to why I m so enad by the book, for starters the scope of the tale and the sheer imagination of the author is brought to the fore during the climax of the book when a lot of details are revealed to the reader and therefore certain things in the story such as the level of technology make a lot of sense I quite LOVED this aspect, the absolute coagulation of various myths with scientific theories which totally point to a different conclusion The author manages to out do himself with this effort, if the readers were astounded by the ending of The Machinery of Light , then The Pillars of Hercules does its absolute best to blow one s mind away with its revelations and so the author has to be lauded for writing this tale I don t know what or how he does it but when it comes to imaginative plot threads, David Constantine aka David J Williams has few equals among his contemporaries or even his peers The prose pattern is one which I expected and yet I sensed it was done in better than the previous books Readers will have to be cautioned in regards to this book as they might have to read some excerpts to get a proper handle about the type of book this is There s also the action sequences which are numerous and scattered though out the tale, one thing about them is that they can be a bit disorienting as the author frequently changes perspective in between Lastly I would say that ending is what thoroughly made this book stand out for me and won me over inspite of its faults So I would ask all readers to at least read all the way to the ending and see the full scope of revelations to make their mind about the book.CONCLUSION David Constantine makes an exciting entry into the field of Alternate history and does his best to blow all assumptions about steampunk out of the water so as to speak I enjoyed his take on Alexander and a Macedonian world which never existed Brimming with SF edges masquerading as fantasy this book is a weird amalgamation of several genres that makes the end content a unique hybrid Not everyone will be enad by this effort, however readers looking for a different style and narrative energy might find a book which challenges them and provides an ending which can be only described as mind blowing Welcome to the wild world of the Pillars of the Hercules, and as the characters discover for themselves, so will the readers that things are never what they seem to be The Pillars of Hercules is a very fun read and takes a serious stab at something I haven t really seen before and is very much up my alley For lack of a better term bronze punk.What we have for at least the first two thirds is a combination alternate history and speculative technology book, set in 330 BC Now this is a fun and tumultuous period, that of Alexander the Great and one which was to see in real life immense changes in the euro Asian political scene which shaped the world we kn The Pillars of Hercules is a very fun read and takes a serious stab at something I haven t really seen before and is very much up my alley For lack of a better term bronze punk.What we have for at least the first two thirds is a combination alternate history and speculative technology book, set in 330 BC Now this is a fun and tumultuous period, that of Alexander the Great and one which was to see in real life immense changes in the euro Asian political scene which shaped the world we know At the political level, David Constatine is clearly knowledgable and very fond of the period He speculates on a number of specific deviances from real history The success of Athens disastrous in real history Sicilican campaign, giving rise to a stronger Athenian Empire And the survival of both Phillip and Alexander past their fated dates I found this play out fascinating and entirely reasonable.To this, he adds a rather extreme amount of extended technology based both on secret discoveries from previous read Atlantian civilizations, and real ancient tech amplified by geniuses such as Aristotle who are astoundinglypractical in the vein of Tony Stark x 1000 then their real life counterparts Most of these inventions are weapons and war machines Plenty of this tech does have precedents in the ancient world such as steam engines But in a society where the cost of labor was nearly zero slavery beingthe rule than the exception there was no impetuous for mechanization That would take the depopulating effect of the middle ages and the plague to bring about I found this stuff fantastic fun But Constantine does take it a bit far for little purpose in the form of semi sentient gear work golems and the like not that I don t have clockwork men if my own in Untimed The almost magic tech of the gods was also a little much But it was good fun.Against this rather magnificent backdrop we have an adventure and war story of lightning pace and heroic proportions Point of view wise about two thirds of the story is told by a Gaulic mercenary who is along for the ride with a Persian noblewoman in the know about some of this extreme tech in her quest to stop Alexander from taking over the world The big political scope of the book involves Alexander, having survived his in real life fatal illness poisoning, and who goes on to try and conquer the Western Mediterranean from the Athenian Empire In the other third of the narrative we see Akexander s plots and conquests through the eyes of a couple of his generals and foes One of these, his right hand man, gets a good number of pages and has a developed POV Most of the others serve as human cameras.The first two thirds of the book is therefore mostly glorious and very fun high swashbuckling action on the part of the merc or generals in the midst of a near continuous series of huge battles, sieges, daring breakins, escapes, and naval chases There isn t much focus here on emotions of character arcs The characters aren t cardboard either, just fun, and free of internal serious flaws that need resolving And the action is often so grand as to completely stretch the reality factor But it is good fun and reminds me of some of the best Philip Jose Farmer.Then at about the 70% mark most of the threads pass west of the titular Pillars of Hercules and things get weirder Not that the pace of action lets up, but instead of being set in the likes of Alexandria, Athens, Syracuse, or Carthage, literally descends into a sort of mechanized Hades filled with machines of the gods While well executed, and providing the book with a larger mythic framework, I personally can t help but think Constantine went too far That the overall effect would have been a littlesatisfying sticking to this fantastic world closer to our own.Still, highly, highly recommended.Forbook reviews, click here.Or read about my own historical fantasy novel here Over the top gearpunk military adventure set in an alternative ancient Greece This is an imaginative and entertaining read, full of real technology from the ancient world but taken to the extremes of the imagination There are many historical characters referenced throughout the book and the story travels through the ancient Mediterranean but a knowledge of Bronze Age Greece and Egypt and Persia is not necessary to the enjoyment of the story.I see in reading other reviews some found the languag Over the top gearpunk military adventure set in an alternative ancient Greece This is an imaginative and entertaining read, full of real technology from the ancient world but taken to the extremes of the imagination There are many historical characters referenced throughout the book and the story travels through the ancient Mediterranean but a knowledge of Bronze Age Greece and Egypt and Persia is not necessary to the enjoyment of the story.I see in reading other reviews some found the language jarring the presence of curse words and conversation that soundedlike soldiers of the 20th or 21st century as opposed to those of the past This did not bother me at all some of the graffiti found at places like Pompei is quite crude and while Athenian hoplites may not have said mother fucker they probably had a word or two in Greek that meant the same thing.My only complaint was that the final few chapters took the characters out of their well imagined alternative world and into a muchtraditional SF setting that was too incongruous for my tastes My Opinion I requested this book because the blurb sounded like something I would really enjoy reading Unfortunately, it didn t live up to my expectations at all I love reading about Alexander the Great and I love steampunk, so I thought how could I go wrong with this book Well, I ll tell you how The story lines were way too vague, with too many characters popping in and out without adding anything to the story Also, it felt like the author was just meandering through whatever popped int My Opinion I requested this book because the blurb sounded like something I would really enjoy reading Unfortunately, it didn t live up to my expectations at all I love reading about Alexander the Great and I love steampunk, so I thought how could I go wrong with this book Well, I ll tell you how The story lines were way too vague, with too many characters popping in and out without adding anything to the story Also, it felt like the author was just meandering through whatever popped into his head instead of picking and choosing what was important and tightening up the story that way, I almost didn t finish the book, and that s saying a lot right there because I can usually get through any story if I know I m going to be writing a review for it, but this one was really a challenge I can say that the first half held my interest muchthan the second half did.I thought this was going to be a story in the vein of an epic adventure since that s what the blurb told me it was Instead, I had to get through tons of info dumps that felt like they were just there to make the book longer instead of telling me something that was relatable to the story itself.There were too many characters who weren t necessary and I felt were just there to make the storymysterious, but instead of being excited to find out how they would fit into the story, I was just leftconfused than ever trying to make connections that just weren t there The story was told by many different viewpoints, but instead of understanding clearly why they all had a voice, I again was left confused by why some Greek army fellow and a random messenger had viewpoints at all since they weren t essential to the story They just dragged it out evenAnd lastly, I expected something to happen at the end that would clear up all of my questions and doubts about the book, but alas, it wasn t to be The end was evenconfusing than the rest of the book, which I didn t think was possible I m not even going to get into what it was, because I firmly believe that just because I personally don t enjoy a book, someone else might, and I don t want to spoil it for them Suffice it to say that I myself didn t care too much for this book overall.I would give this book 2 to 2.5 stars.I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion I purchased this book because I thought I would be reading a tale about Hercules Instead I m faced with Alexander and King Phillip, the war of Athens and steampunk whatever that means What is steampunk Apparently steampunk is telling a story set in the past using current technology Like this book for instance a story about Ancient times with the modern grandeur of machines made today Flying ships, submarines, robots, mechanical spheres that sort of thing.The Pillars of Hercules is medioc I purchased this book because I thought I would be reading a tale about Hercules Instead I m faced with Alexander and King Phillip, the war of Athens and steampunk whatever that means What is steampunk Apparently steampunk is telling a story set in the past using current technology Like this book for instance a story about Ancient times with the modern grandeur of machines made today Flying ships, submarines, robots, mechanical spheres that sort of thing.The Pillars of Hercules is mediocre Constant editing mistakes within the first 20 pages andthroughout the next 100 pages I had to re read sentences because they made no sense until I realized it was yet another mistake.Place that aside, the story is about 2 mercenaries that are hired to help a beautiful princess gain access to hidden treasure Along the way they pick up a passenger Aristotle s daughter, who has infinite knowledge of the underworld and passages Being chased by none other, Prince Alexander and every other army, it s a race to the center of Earth as they know it I was a little disappointed in this book The story started as something really interesting about the time of Alexander the Great However, as the story went, the author introduced several characters without clearly explaining how they fit into the scheme of things Several plot lines popped up out of the blue and while in the end everything seemed to come together, it took a while to figure out why and how they were important I was also disappointed in the language used I would understand tha I was a little disappointed in this book The story started as something really interesting about the time of Alexander the Great However, as the story went, the author introduced several characters without clearly explaining how they fit into the scheme of things Several plot lines popped up out of the blue and while in the end everything seemed to come together, it took a while to figure out why and how they were important I was also disappointed in the language used I would understand that the characters cuss and use vulgar words as it is easy to imagine that s how they talked among themselves but there were narratives as well where the language was too modern and too loose It did not seem to fit into the current of history While the story started as a historical fiction, the end became almost like science fiction I was glad that there was an explanation by the author at the end as to how he came up with this ending but it was definitely not what I expected Imagine Alexander the Great meets steampunk , I was told.Well, it s a nice selling pitch, but theI thought about it, theI was intrigued What an idea Could it work The story starts straightforwardly Lugorix is a Gaulish soldier with a sword called Skullseeker His best friend is Grecian Matthias, an archer The story begins by the two being hired to protect and travel with Barsine, a mystic witch, on her journey from Athens with her retainer Damitra.In another storyline we have Al Imagine Alexander the Great meets steampunk , I was told.Well, it s a nice selling pitch, but theI thought about it, theI was intrigued What an idea Could it work The story starts straightforwardly Lugorix is a Gaulish soldier with a sword called Skullseeker His best friend is Grecian Matthias, an archer The story begins by the two being hired to protect and travel with Barsine, a mystic witch, on her journey from Athens with her retainer Damitra.In another storyline we have Alexander and his relationship with Philip, his father, as told through Eumenes, one of Alexander s officers and Aristotle And of course we also have the increasingly paranoid Alexander, who kills previously trusted friends whilst trying to overthrow his father.Once the characters are introduced, then we have the key concept of the tale Here David takes the events of ancient times and sets them up in an interesting tale but then takes a left turn into alternate history by allowing Athens to win the Peloponnesian War and Alexander to travel West to Europe Though you don t need to know all this before reading the story, it is interesting stuff, and explained by David at the back of the novel.Much of Alexander s march west into Europe is for complex reasons It is at least in part to please his father, taking lands in his name, but Alexander also wishes to discover the truth about whether he is not just a man but a god reborn The tale continues with battles at Athens and then in Syracuse Matthias and Lugorix are sent to rescue Aristotle, who has fled from Alexander but is now incarcerated in Syracuse When they get there they find that Aristotle has died, yet his also captured daughter Eurydice is there They free her and then set off to the Pillars of Hercules and the ancient place supposedly the site of the lost Atlantis.The Ancient World is a rich tapestry of resources that is ripe for the use of Fantasy novels However this is not without its complications Trying to explain the complications of Macedonian and Grecian politics from a standing start isn t easy, and then getting accustomed to the names can take a while knowing your Diocles and Xanthippus from your Hephaestion is quite important Unfortunately here there s a lot of characters who all speak with similar voices and it was at times difficult to differentiate between them, even those we are meant to careabout.Of the main characters, I found Alexander makes an interesting debut as a self obsessed and increasingly paranoid dictator but after being introduced early into the tale then spends most of the tale offstage with his part of the story instead being told through his officers, until by the end his presence is barely registered Other characters are used and then seemingly forgotten.Whilst some of the dialogue between Matthias and Lugorix is fun and reflects a bickering and long standing relationship, some of the other dialogue is ratherstilted Macedonians are often referred to as Macks, for example Strangely, the unnaturalness of this speech is emphasised for me as the language used is decidedly contemporary Whilst this ensures the reader understands what is going on, it can be off putting, and it is one of the things that most often causes my sense of disbelief to be destroyed whilst reading It s not very often I read characters of the Ancient World say Yikes or Periscope up or even F ck me , though I do here Others may have less of a problem with it.On the positive side the battle scenes are done well and are quite exciting although at times a little repetitive there s an awful lot of head decapitating going on What is also interesting is the use of new weapons such as Greek fire, golems and gunpowder, steamships, torpedoes and submarines as Aristotle s latest inventions are brought into play Interestingly, whereas it might seem that some of the inventions seem out of time, much of the technology herein is based upon actual weapons at about that time and it is clear that David has done his homework, although it is off putting to find ancient world characters talking about guns and bombs.There are elements of magic here though it seems to beabout the magic of science in the end Aristotle is seen as a sorcerer, and his inventions magic This isn t necessarily a bad thing, although it s an idea that on the whole seems rather undeveloped What begins as a great idea slowly unravels until the finale, where it all comes crashing down The ending, involving a rather cosmic descent into Hell , explains about the origin of gods through a ratherscientific rationale.There s a lot of plus points, but in the end sadly it doesn t quite work as well as I would have hoped A great effort but for me it doesn t quite come off ^DOWNLOAD PDF ☔ The Pillars of Hercules ⇲ Alexander, Prince of Macedon, is the terror of the world Persia, Egypt, Athens one after another, mighty nations are falling before the fearsome conqueror Some say Alexander is actually the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and the living incarnation of Hercules himself Worse yet, some say Alexander believes this The ambitious prince is aided in his conquest by unstoppable war machines based on the forbidden knowledge of his former tutor, the legendary scientist mage known as Aristotle Greek fire, mechanical golems, and gigantic siege engines lay waste to Alexander s enemies as his armies march relentlessly west toward the very edge of the worldBeyond the Pillars of Hercules, past the gateway to the outer ocean, lies the rud remnants of Atlantis ancient artifacts of such tremendous power that they may be all that stands between Alexander and conquest of the entire world Alexander desires that power for himself, but an unlikely band of fugitives including a Gaulish barbarian, a cynical Greek archer, a cunning Persian princess, and a sorcerer s daughter must find it first before Alexander unleashes godlike forces that will shatter civilization The Pillars of Hercules is an epic adventure that captures the grandeur and mystery of the ancient world as it might have been, where science and magic are one and the same