The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great by Stephanie Thornton

conqueror The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great by Stephanie Thornton

Please click here for the synopsis of this novel provided by Goodreads.

This is a novel with a very misleading title. “The Conqueror’s Wife” leads the reader to  believe that it will be told from the perspective of one woman: the wife of Alexander the Great. This is not at all the case. The author strives to gain a wider perspective of Alexander by using multiple voices to tell the story. Four voices to be exact. Furthermore, only one of them was Alexander’s wife and it took until page 273 to find out who.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this novel however, I did, but I found myself boggled by the title. In fact during the first few chapters it actually put me off the story a little. The multitude of voices when I expected just one caused me to find the beginning of the novel somewhat diluted. However I’m glad to say that as the novel progressed I became attached to all four characters and appreciated their varied outlooks upon the events of the novel. They are four very unique and vivid characters that highlighted the way of the world during Alexander’s reign.

Hephaestion, one of the four and the only male voice, was a childhood companion of Alexander that travelled by his side throughout his decade-long conquering campaign. It is amazing just how much Hephaestion, and all of Alexander’s loyal soldiers, were willing to give up in order to serve him. It is as though they truly thought him to be the God he declared himself to be and would follow him to Hades itself if he asked. In fact there are certain scenes in this novel that would make you think they were already there.

The author did a wonderful job of depicting the battle scenes, making them realistic and very fast-paced. I learnt much about how Macedonian battles were fought. I found it particularly interesting to learn that many Indian Lords and even the Persian King of Kings Darius III used War Elephants in battle. Overall I really enjoyed all the portrayals of Alexander’s success in battle. This plus the loyalty of his men gave me a good impression of how Alexander was able to build an empire in a relatively short period of time.

My favourite character in this novel was Drypetis, second daughter to King Darius III. It was her perspective in particular that I clicked with the most and I felt a similar dislike of Alexander to that which she felt. Whilst I could see how he was admired through Hephaestion’s eyes, it was through Drypetis’ eyes that my opinion formed. From the very beginning she showed him to be the most human–not at all God-like–and it was this notion that really came through towards the end. Alexander was just a man, flawed as any man is, and I appreciated the author’s talent in taking him down from his pedestal step-by-step. Nothing felt rushed, rather the story came to a head of it’s own accord and Alexander’s world began to unravel. The end of his reign and the years following were very chaotic and somewhat confusing if you read the history. However the author gives us a concise explanation that was easy to follow and ended her story nicely. She explains why she chose to do certain things in her author’s note, which I always appreciate.

Overall this was a very interesting read and I enjoyed it greatly. I just really wish it had a more appropriate title!


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