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Fires of Alexandria

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The greatest mystery of the ancient world remains the identity of who set fire to the Great Library in Alexandria. One hundred years later, Heron of Alexandria--the city's most renowned inventor and creator of Temple miracles--receives coin from a mysterious patron to investigate the crime. Desperate to be free of the debts incurred by her twin brother, she accepts and set The greatest mystery of the ancient world remains the identity of who set fire to the Great Library in Alexandria. One hundred years later, Heron of Alexandria--the city's most renowned inventor and creator of Temple miracles--receives coin from a mysterious patron to investigate the crime. Desperate to be free of the debts incurred by her twin brother, she accepts and sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the Roman Empire and change the course of history forever.


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The greatest mystery of the ancient world remains the identity of who set fire to the Great Library in Alexandria. One hundred years later, Heron of Alexandria--the city's most renowned inventor and creator of Temple miracles--receives coin from a mysterious patron to investigate the crime. Desperate to be free of the debts incurred by her twin brother, she accepts and set The greatest mystery of the ancient world remains the identity of who set fire to the Great Library in Alexandria. One hundred years later, Heron of Alexandria--the city's most renowned inventor and creator of Temple miracles--receives coin from a mysterious patron to investigate the crime. Desperate to be free of the debts incurred by her twin brother, she accepts and sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the Roman Empire and change the course of history forever.

30 review for Fires of Alexandria

  1. 5 out of 5

    Red Haircrow

    I often have an interest in alternative historical fiction, especially when its subject and location is someplace other than Nazi Germany, which I feel has been played out all too often to the same tune. But Fires of Alexandria thankfully takes us to ancient Roman Empire in Egypt, and while it’s a popular theme also, the author gives an interesting view with new dynamics. The writing is vivid and well-researched, and the enthusiasm and love for the story was clear. I felt that fewer descriptions I often have an interest in alternative historical fiction, especially when its subject and location is someplace other than Nazi Germany, which I feel has been played out all too often to the same tune. But Fires of Alexandria thankfully takes us to ancient Roman Empire in Egypt, and while it’s a popular theme also, the author gives an interesting view with new dynamics. The writing is vivid and well-researched, and the enthusiasm and love for the story was clear. I felt that fewer descriptions at times could have helped me, as the reader, focus on more important points, but the characters and events were easily visualized. The paragraph structuring did become an issue, as I would have preferred ones with more than one or two sentences each, especially when they contained the same ideas or actions taking place. I felt this would have improved the flow and overall appearance of the narrative, yet the plotting and pace drive you forward to a climax and resolution that satisfies. Thomas K. Carpenter has created a solid basis for a new series in “Fires of Alexandria”, and I thought it was an enjoyable read with a sympathetic main character I truly came to care about. Further installments would definitely be on my list of anticipated reads. Originally posted at the review/interview site Flying With Red Haircrow http://flyingwithredhaircrow.wordpres...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    After I read it all the way through, my verdict: Puerile. Very poor. Avoid this mishmash of alternate history, fantasy, and steampunk. I felt like the author found a few facts and used them, but 90% were the scribblings of a 10 year old, so bad was the written work. Heron is an inventor of mechanical objects, many used as "miracles" in various temples. Asked to find out who started the Fire in the Alexandrian Library, she teams up with a Northman named Agog and working together, their actions cha After I read it all the way through, my verdict: Puerile. Very poor. Avoid this mishmash of alternate history, fantasy, and steampunk. I felt like the author found a few facts and used them, but 90% were the scribblings of a 10 year old, so bad was the written work. Heron is an inventor of mechanical objects, many used as "miracles" in various temples. Asked to find out who started the Fire in the Alexandrian Library, she teams up with a Northman named Agog and working together, their actions change the course of Alexandrian history. This story was completely unbelievable. Slow at first, the last half of the story was more exciting, with some unexpected twists. I got no sense of life in Alexandria and characters were all wooden. Not recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    Had potential plot. Needed better editing. And by the way, Romans didn't use ha'pennies. Had potential plot. Needed better editing. And by the way, Romans didn't use ha'pennies.

  4. 4 out of 5

    J.C. Andrijeski

    Really fantastic alternate history/historical novel with an excellent lead character in the form of Heron, a mathematician and "miracle inventor" in the time of the Roman occupation of Alexandria. Heron, a real historical figure, is portrayed with a twist in Carpenter's book as a woman (the twin brother to the male Heron, who takes his identity when he dies, as she is the real mastermind of the pair, as portrayed in this novel). The main premise surrounds the mystery surrounding the cause of the Really fantastic alternate history/historical novel with an excellent lead character in the form of Heron, a mathematician and "miracle inventor" in the time of the Roman occupation of Alexandria. Heron, a real historical figure, is portrayed with a twist in Carpenter's book as a woman (the twin brother to the male Heron, who takes his identity when he dies, as she is the real mastermind of the pair, as portrayed in this novel). The main premise surrounds the mystery surrounding the cause of the fires that burned down the Library of Alexandria...but the novel takes us through numerous other political intrigues happening at the time, as well as other historical figures Heron interacts with. There is also an interesting (fictional) character in the form of "the barbarian" from the North, who hires Heron to fashion for him a mechanical army from her "miracle" technologies, and in the process she prematurely invents the steam engine. Speaking of steam, in terms of the miracles themselves, there's a bit of a steampunk flavor the book at times, even without the actual steam power. Overall, a huge recommend for strong characters, a believable alternate history (and interpretation of real history) that is completely fascinating and compelling. Add to that strong action, mystery and intrigue throughout the course of the novel, and it's a tough one to put down.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    “She would transform the city to a place worthy of the title of the City of Miracles. And not the miracles of the temples. Real, practical miracles that would change people's lives and free them from the tyranny of the gods.” Entertaining and educational alternate history. Too bad the writing wasn’t up to the premise. Using Alexandria circa 50 AD as his starting point, Carpenter weaves an intriguing “what if” tale of advancing technology, gender liberation, and personal freedom. "And to see it wit “She would transform the city to a place worthy of the title of the City of Miracles. And not the miracles of the temples. Real, practical miracles that would change people's lives and free them from the tyranny of the gods.” Entertaining and educational alternate history. Too bad the writing wasn’t up to the premise. Using Alexandria circa 50 AD as his starting point, Carpenter weaves an intriguing “what if” tale of advancing technology, gender liberation, and personal freedom. "And to see it with my own eyes. Because one cannot always trust what was written in books." He gets more right than wrong, though several gaffs are laughable. “Man-sized multi-firing crossbows” are a staple among writers having no idea how crossbows work. Imposed a modern concept of taxation instead of how Romans really did it. Several plot gaps: two guards conveniently disappear so the protagonist can escape. Enemies repeatedly threaten rather than punish. Teenaged girl straight out of modern too-emotional-and-stupid-to-live portrayals. "Humor is my secret weapon in battle. It's always the overly serious ones that die first." Apparently resorted to the thesaurus for vocabulary enrichment without checking the definitions. For example: “Shimmering heat wafted over the roofs, obfuscating the gleaming white Lighthouse in the distance.” “Their excited screams were immaculate.” “…would have been killed as a stillborn.” "You don't believe in curses?" "I prefer dealing with men. They're easier to kill. Gods are a troublesome lot." Amid the required religion bashing Carpenter refrained from modern fiction’s favorite scapegoat for the burning of the Library and other crimes. His invented cult provides plausible baddies. "You Alexandrians are a duplicitous lot." "A skill of survival, nothing more. We do not play the game for the sport alone, unlike the Romans." "It was a compliment."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Rocco

    Typically negligent editing I find in most Kindle e-books, but I just can't believe it can be the author's fault because otherwise the story is solid. Amazon/Kindle denies responsibility for the negligent editing of so many of their e-books. It is extremely irritating to have the continuity of the book's story so frequently interrupted by the stomach-clenching annoyance of yet another egregious error. I noted at least 25 of the worst errors. Amazon says one can submit content error reports via t Typically negligent editing I find in most Kindle e-books, but I just can't believe it can be the author's fault because otherwise the story is solid. Amazon/Kindle denies responsibility for the negligent editing of so many of their e-books. It is extremely irritating to have the continuity of the book's story so frequently interrupted by the stomach-clenching annoyance of yet another egregious error. I noted at least 25 of the worst errors. Amazon says one can submit content error reports via the Kindle, but I can't find how. And, why should I have to submit 25 error reports, doing a proofreader's job, when I paid for the book which I am justified in assuming was not a rough draft. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the story and would like to read the other two in the series, but I am loathe to endure the aggravation of two error-filled texts to do so. If I were the author, I would be angry that this shoddy product was being sold with my name on it after I had worked hard to write the book. I also remember that reading was a primary way I learned proper spelling and usage, and I shudder to think of young people reading these e-books and believing that they are seeing proper use of the language. Our society is being dumbed down enough already.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Didn't care for this book. Had to push my way through. It had some good, exciting parts, but a lot of it I found boring & dry. Didn't care for this book. Had to push my way through. It had some good, exciting parts, but a lot of it I found boring & dry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    TXGAL1

    3.5 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten McKenzie

    4.5 stars: Well I certainly learnt a lot! This time period is not one I am overly familiar with and whilst I've been to Alexandria, I didn't have any idea of the fractious relationship they had with the Romans. I was delighted to read the authors note explaining about Heron and our knowledge of his inventions. The only thing stopping me from rating it five stars was my confusion in the first half of the book over Heron's gender. I'm not going to say anything more, as I don't want it to be a spoil 4.5 stars: Well I certainly learnt a lot! This time period is not one I am overly familiar with and whilst I've been to Alexandria, I didn't have any idea of the fractious relationship they had with the Romans. I was delighted to read the authors note explaining about Heron and our knowledge of his inventions. The only thing stopping me from rating it five stars was my confusion in the first half of the book over Heron's gender. I'm not going to say anything more, as I don't want it to be a spoiler, but maybe it was just my interpretation which was off? The story kept me turning the pages. I love all the nods to history throughout the book, and this is certainly my favourite type of historical fiction. Now I want to revisit Alexandria with even just the small glimpse of its history I got from reading this book. I've already bought book #2 in the series and am loving the reintroduction to the characters I came to care about.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jann

    I enjoyed this imaginative book very much and was disappointed to find that it there was no true corresponding factual history surrounding these events. Briefly, Ada has assumed her deceased brother's name and gender in order to use her excellent creative skills fashioning mechanical 'mysteries' for the various temples to use to amaze their followers. As 'Heron' she also is caring for her young niece and insists that she also assume the garb of a man to protect her from the males in Alexandria. I enjoyed this imaginative book very much and was disappointed to find that it there was no true corresponding factual history surrounding these events. Briefly, Ada has assumed her deceased brother's name and gender in order to use her excellent creative skills fashioning mechanical 'mysteries' for the various temples to use to amaze their followers. As 'Heron' she also is caring for her young niece and insists that she also assume the garb of a man to protect her from the males in Alexandria. Along with assuming her brother's workshop there are accompanying debts as he had been a drinker and a gambler. When things are looking their worst, a commission turns up from a well spoken Germanic 'barbarian' who wants Heron to build some larger than life-size mechanical soldiers which will actually work, rather than depending on illusion. A mysterious benefactor has also commissioned her to investigate who actually started the fires attributed to the Romans which burned some of the priceless books held in the Alexandrian Library. Heron tries to juggle these two jobs in order to keep money coming in to pay the tax collector Lysimachus who adds various penalties and threatens to take over the workshop. Unfortunately, there were many grammatical errors which irritated me whenever I came across them. Otherwise I would have given this great story another star. If you can overlook this sort of thing and enjoy adventures set in the past, Fires of Alexandria is a book to delight you.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cleokatra

    I read a lot of historical fiction, but I'm not too familiar with this time period. It was interesting to me, but the story seemed a little unrealistic and there were a few obvious anachronisms. Otherwise, it was an okay book. I read a lot of historical fiction, but I'm not too familiar with this time period. It was interesting to me, but the story seemed a little unrealistic and there were a few obvious anachronisms. Otherwise, it was an okay book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul Trembling

    Alexandria in the time of the Roman Empire was a remarkable place in a fascinating time - and that 19s just in the real world. When Thomas K Carpenter begins to speculate about what could have been, it goes to a whole new level of wonder. Central to this story is the idea that Heron of Alexandria, greatest inventor of the age, finds a way of harnessing steam power. But woven around that is a fast paced mystery / adventure, full of colourful characters (many, like Heron, based on real people. Carp Alexandria in the time of the Roman Empire was a remarkable place in a fascinating time - and that 19s just in the real world. When Thomas K Carpenter begins to speculate about what could have been, it goes to a whole new level of wonder. Central to this story is the idea that Heron of Alexandria, greatest inventor of the age, finds a way of harnessing steam power. But woven around that is a fast paced mystery / adventure, full of colourful characters (many, like Heron, based on real people. Carpenter demonstrates a real understanding of the ancient cities complex mix of politics, religion and economy. The Romans rule 13 their presence resented but their power feared. The Temples vie with each other for popularity, each seeking to recruit the most talented engineers to build the most spectacular 18miracles 19 with which to attract followers. The Great Library is the worlds supreme storehouse of knowledge in all the world, in spite of the fire which destroyed much of its vast store of manuscripts. The city is proud and prosperous on the surface, but underneath it seethes with unrest and is full of dark secrets. Heron, driven by the pressure of debt (and the threat of harsh justice for debtors) takes on commissions to build new war machines which may threaten the stability of the restless city 13 and seeks for hidden knowledge that some would rather keep hidden. And another interesting element is that, in this version of history, Heron is actually a women 13 the sister of the real (and deceased) Heron who has taken over his identity and his workshop in order to pay of the huge debts he had incurred. This enables Carpenter to explore some of the issues surrounding sexual inequality in those times 13 as well as giving the plot another twist, since Heron must keep her real identity secret at all times. It is a wonderfully colourful mixture, skilfully put together and developed towards a powerful climax that takes history down a very different route! There are, unfortunately, some drawbacks. The flow of the writing is broken in a number of places by what to me seemed a strange choice of words or an awkward sentence. And I thought that more could have been made of both the technical complexity and the social impact of the world 19s first working steam engine 13 almost two millennia before the Industrial Revolution. To be fair, though, this is the first book in a series, and some of these issues may be explored in later books. These caveats aside, this is a very enjoyable and well put-together story, exploring one of the most intriguing 18what ifs 19 of alternate history. There 19s also a useful Afterword, giving some of the historical background, including some interesting ideas on why the industrial revolution didn 19t, in fact, get started in Alexandria.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lynnda Ell

    Author Thomas K. Carpenter invited me to review his novel, Fires of Alexandria. He sent me a free copy for my Kindle and I put it in my virtual stack of digital books to read. I’m glad I agreed to review his book. Mr. Carpenter wrote a fascinating mixture of history and alternative reality that recreated the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria about 100 years after the battle with Julius Caesar during which the Great Library burned. I have read other books in which the alternate reality began with t Author Thomas K. Carpenter invited me to review his novel, Fires of Alexandria. He sent me a free copy for my Kindle and I put it in my virtual stack of digital books to read. I’m glad I agreed to review his book. Mr. Carpenter wrote a fascinating mixture of history and alternative reality that recreated the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria about 100 years after the battle with Julius Caesar during which the Great Library burned. I have read other books in which the alternate reality began with the quick development of steam engines based on the aeolipile. Mr. Carpenter cuts away to an alternate history at the source: with Heron, the aeolipile’s inventor. With desperation, rather than necessity, being the mother of invention, Fires of Alexandria gives us a look at time when, thanks to an unlikely trio of characters, Alexandria was able to stand against Rome. The plot involves the collision of three potentially catastrophic facets of Heron’s life. Heron keeps her life carefully segmented. She’s deeply in debt to a sociopath. She’s pretending to be a man in order to create her inventions. She’s also attempting to solve the mystery of the burning of the Great Library which powers-that-be want left unresolved. Heron is one of those people who could sing, “if I had no bad luck I’d have no luck at all.” Perseverance, loyal employees and an unusual customer, drive the story to a surprising end. Thomas Carpenter’s writing style and voice fit together nicely to tell the story of a victorious Alexandria. However, I did have a couple of things that bothered me. First (and only grammar geeks will find this a problem) is the mystery of the missing indefinite pronouns. In the first several chapters, I’d read a sentence that could only make sense with the addition of some variant of “which” or “that.” Fortunately, the problem disappeared later in the book. My other uncomfortable moments came when I tried to suspend my disbelief and accept that Heron was able to disguise herself well enough to pass for a man in the days before deodorant and daily baths. A fertile woman releases hormones and pheromones that could not be disguised easily. Other odors might have covered them for those who came in occasional contact with her, but not those who worked with her on a daily basis. Just sayin’. Anyway, if you ever wondered what could have been done to change the legacy of the Roman Empire, Fires of Alexandria is a good place to start.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Thom Swennes

    The Alexandria Library is reputed to be among the greatest of all times. It is easy to imagine that such a great collection of parchments would be vulnerable to fire. The library in Alexandria did, in fact, suffer from fire four separate times. The first time was in 48 BC, and again seven years later in 41 BC. The third fire occurred in 272 AD and the last one in 391 AD. One of these fires plays a big role in this story. Heron and Ada were twins. Heron had built up a great reputation as a sculpto The Alexandria Library is reputed to be among the greatest of all times. It is easy to imagine that such a great collection of parchments would be vulnerable to fire. The library in Alexandria did, in fact, suffer from fire four separate times. The first time was in 48 BC, and again seven years later in 41 BC. The third fire occurred in 272 AD and the last one in 391 AD. One of these fires plays a big role in this story. Heron and Ada were twins. Heron had built up a great reputation as a sculptor and inventor. When Heron suddenly dies, his sister, Ada takes his place. With this transformation, she also acquired her brother’s huge debt to Alexander Lysimachus. Agog, a warrior from the north is known in Alexandria as Agog the barbarian. He has come to Egypt in search of new weapons to give his army a field advantage over his enemies. Heron’s reputation brings the two together and they formed an unwilling but necessary partnership. The plot twists and turns, almost into obscurity. This is in the alternative-history genre that is based on smoke and mirrors support the tale. I have read many books in this genre that I’ve rated highly. I am sorry to say that I found this first book of the Alexandria Saga, sorely lacking. I found it often rambling and generally uninspiring. I am completely confused as to why Ada risked death, if discovered in her deception, to take the place of her debt-riddled brother Heron. Logically Ada would be much better off fleeing the city and starting life again in another place. I can only conclude that Ada displays masochistic tendencies. Ada’s soi-disant position is uninspiring and her banausic creations lackluster. I consider myself sapiosexual but Ada, in all her cleverness, doesn’t seem very smart.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Walkden-Brown

    A thoroughly enjoyable alternate history tale. Beautifully written. The author managed to impart vibrant life to the characters, time and city in which the events unfold.  A wonderful mix of steampunk, ancient Egypt in the grip of the Roman Empire, and a colourful, varied collection of characters made this a riveting, page-turner of a read. So much so that, unwilling to miss out on where the story may now go with some favourite characters, I've downloaded the next two books in the series. Highly A thoroughly enjoyable alternate history tale. Beautifully written. The author managed to impart vibrant life to the characters, time and city in which the events unfold.  A wonderful mix of steampunk, ancient Egypt in the grip of the Roman Empire, and a colourful, varied collection of characters made this a riveting, page-turner of a read. So much so that, unwilling to miss out on where the story may now go with some favourite characters, I've downloaded the next two books in the series. Highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charles van Buren

    Steampunk in the ancient world. By Charles van Buren on January 14, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase This story is set in Alexandria about 100 years after the fire which destroyed part of the great library. A part of the plot is an attempt to determine who was responsible. The answer did not really make much difference to the rest of the plot in this first volume of the series. Perhaps it will in future volumes. The more important part of the plot concerns Heron, the master artificer of Steampunk in the ancient world. By Charles van Buren on January 14, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase This story is set in Alexandria about 100 years after the fire which destroyed part of the great library. A part of the plot is an attempt to determine who was responsible. The answer did not really make much difference to the rest of the plot in this first volume of the series. Perhaps it will in future volumes. The more important part of the plot concerns Heron, the master artificer of Alexandria and the mechanical war machines Heron designs and manufacturers for a barbarian king from a region north of the Roman Empire. A little twist is that Heron is impersonating her dead twin brother as the laws and customs of Alexandria and Rome do not allow women to own businesses and perform men's work. The penalty if found out is death. As one can gather from the construction of the mechanical war machines and soldiers, the plot diverges from actual history. The novel is fairly well written but there are some grammatical and editing errors. The story flowed well enough for me that I found the errors to be small nuisances rather than major distractions. The afterword explaining some of the actual history is a very nice touch.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    An interesting alternate history involving Heron of Alexandria, the remarkable genius also known as Hero of Alexandria and about whom little is really known other than his legacy in mathematics, physics, pneumatics, and mechanics. The fact that so little is known of Heron's personal life allows the author to be quite inventive. A little slow in the beginning, the story eventually picked up the pace, and I was quite fascinated with some of the mysteries of the narrative and with the real details a An interesting alternate history involving Heron of Alexandria, the remarkable genius also known as Hero of Alexandria and about whom little is really known other than his legacy in mathematics, physics, pneumatics, and mechanics. The fact that so little is known of Heron's personal life allows the author to be quite inventive. A little slow in the beginning, the story eventually picked up the pace, and I was quite fascinated with some of the mysteries of the narrative and with the real details about life in Alexandria, Egypt. Adventure, history, and alternate history all mixed into one. I'm interested in the next in the series. This one was free from Amazon. Alternate History. 2011. 340 pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    K.S. Ferguson

    It's hard to pin down the genre of this work. It's an alternate history, but it's also a mystery, a political intrigue, a steampunk, and an old-fashioned adventure yarn. While the novel can be read at a superficial level, it has deeper themes that touch on women's place and value in society, religion, slavery, and even racism. I appreciated that the themes were woven into the fabric of the story and not delivered as boring lectures expressing the author's opinions. The writing is clear, the charac It's hard to pin down the genre of this work. It's an alternate history, but it's also a mystery, a political intrigue, a steampunk, and an old-fashioned adventure yarn. While the novel can be read at a superficial level, it has deeper themes that touch on women's place and value in society, religion, slavery, and even racism. I appreciated that the themes were woven into the fabric of the story and not delivered as boring lectures expressing the author's opinions. The writing is clear, the characters believable and engaging, and the plot logical. The editing was solid. Each time I had to stop reading, I found myself itching to get back to see what happened next. I enjoyed the book so much that I immediately purchased the next in the series.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Msjodi777

    Not sure how this one came into my library, but I was looking in my kindle cloud, and there it was. Looked interesting, so I read it. Story was great, characters were interesting and moved along quite well. It's an "alternative" history, and while I don't have problems with that part of it, I did have a problem with them knowing who Alexander the Great was in 54AD. hmmmm.... however, if you really don't care about the historical aspect of it, it was a good story, and I'd recommend it to all but Not sure how this one came into my library, but I was looking in my kindle cloud, and there it was. Looked interesting, so I read it. Story was great, characters were interesting and moved along quite well. It's an "alternative" history, and while I don't have problems with that part of it, I did have a problem with them knowing who Alexander the Great was in 54AD. hmmmm.... however, if you really don't care about the historical aspect of it, it was a good story, and I'd recommend it to all but the most critical of history buffs. Read this one in my kindle app so no narrator. <><

  20. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    This is an alternative historical novel set in Alexandria a hundred years after fires destroyed part of the famous library. Heron is an extremely talented mathematician and engineer but sinking under misfortune and debt. When asked to investigate the fires a series of events occur that change the course of history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Mock

    Fires of Alexandria by Thomas K Carpenter Heron of Alexandria is a great inventor. Heron is not Heron, but rather, Ada his twin sister. After Heron is killed by debt collectors, Ada assumes her twin brother's identity to pay back the debts incurred. He keeps his workshop busy but does not know that he has spies and saboteurs. Philo is the other big inventor in Alexandria and has been stealing all of Heron's inventions after he sabotages them. Alexander Lysimachus -- Lys the Cruel, or Alabarch--is Fires of Alexandria by Thomas K Carpenter Heron of Alexandria is a great inventor. Heron is not Heron, but rather, Ada his twin sister. After Heron is killed by debt collectors, Ada assumes her twin brother's identity to pay back the debts incurred. He keeps his workshop busy but does not know that he has spies and saboteurs. Philo is the other big inventor in Alexandria and has been stealing all of Heron's inventions after he sabotages them. Alexander Lysimachus -- Lys the Cruel, or Alabarch--is the debt collector and is making Heron's life miserable; probably because he keeps increasing the interest of Heron's debts so that he can get Sephoria, Heron's daughter as payment. Enter Agog the barbarian with a request that Heron builds war machines. Heron leans quickly that Agog is cultured and knowledgeable. This new source of income keeps Heron off Lys the Cruel's claws. Another rather interesting request comes to Heron by a rich merchant who wants to know who started the fire of the Great Library of Alexandria 97 years earlier as Caesar burnt his ships in the famous battle. Add a conspiracy by the religious Cult of Ur, and twists and turns end up putting Heron and Sephoria's life in mortal danger. What will Agog do with all the war machines? Will Alexandria rebel against Rome? Narrated from the third person point of view this is an interesting take on alternative historical fiction genre. Unfortunately, I was not drawn into the characters, nor did I believe the narrative. The plot needed work, for I lost interest soon enough. By the time we realize where the story is going, most people will have put the book down--I like to read so I had no trouble finishing it. There are too many inconsistencies-- there are no ha'pennies in Roman times--and the writer seems to flip from the past to the present in her references. As an admirer of pure historical fiction, I found it an interesting read in spite of the many errors and shortcomings...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    I am a student of history and thoroughly enjoy alternate history books. However, Fires of Alexandria is sorely lacking in important areas. Having read many alternate history books, I find the authors appear to do a great deal of research and keep the details as close to historically accurate as possible. Even though these same authors change up battle outcomes or reverse the outcomes of wars, there is still plausibility to their plots/story. I found that Carpenter appeared to have done very litt I am a student of history and thoroughly enjoy alternate history books. However, Fires of Alexandria is sorely lacking in important areas. Having read many alternate history books, I find the authors appear to do a great deal of research and keep the details as close to historically accurate as possible. Even though these same authors change up battle outcomes or reverse the outcomes of wars, there is still plausibility to their plots/story. I found that Carpenter appeared to have done very little research and should have spent more time on details to have made this book more readable. Further, there were so many plot twists that the story seemed to be all over the place. You have a Suebian King assisting a Greek woman (posing as a man) to battle the Romans in Alexandria, and a conspiracy by the religious cult of Ur. These elements may have worked, however, they did not flow together seamlessly and caused the story to ramble on unnecessarily in some parts. I am an avid reader, so had no trouble finishing the book. I found the concept interesting, but the storyline weak.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This is a story that had many subplots going on. I did think that the Library would have more of a central focus, but in the end, it does shine as all libraries do. The main character is an extremely intelligent and crafty woman who does present as a man in order to gain respect has an inventor in ancient Alexandria. She is very devoted to those who deserve it. I did become quite attached to the other characters as well. The pacing of the story was a bit disjointed at times, but it was not too d This is a story that had many subplots going on. I did think that the Library would have more of a central focus, but in the end, it does shine as all libraries do. The main character is an extremely intelligent and crafty woman who does present as a man in order to gain respect has an inventor in ancient Alexandria. She is very devoted to those who deserve it. I did become quite attached to the other characters as well. The pacing of the story was a bit disjointed at times, but it was not too distracting. I did feel that the author could have embellished more as well. Some of the scenes were a little difficult to follow-descriptions of the contraptions that were created could have been clearer. Overall it was a good book, and I would like to continue with the series as some point.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Wow did I miss fantasy so damn much. Reading this book really reminded me (especially in a time of much needed escape) that fantasy will always be one of my favorite genres. This story was so well crafted and just the perfect mix of accurate history and mystical fantasy weaves through. The marriage of the two writing styles were executed so well throughout this story. From the exciting characters to the fun steampunk edge that the story lends itself, there is not one dull moment. I truly cannot Wow did I miss fantasy so damn much. Reading this book really reminded me (especially in a time of much needed escape) that fantasy will always be one of my favorite genres. This story was so well crafted and just the perfect mix of accurate history and mystical fantasy weaves through. The marriage of the two writing styles were executed so well throughout this story. From the exciting characters to the fun steampunk edge that the story lends itself, there is not one dull moment. I truly cannot wait to buy the sequel and swiftly finish this trilogy. I also am not a fan of overt romance but this first part opens the doors for a possibility of romance. The way it was introduced was so subtle and really gets you excited instead of put off my a romantic overture. If you love fantasy and a bit of a history buff this is perfect.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Liesbeth

    It is an entirely different genre that I usually read, but nonetheless some history facts I do enjoy. Like the Library of Alexandria always captivated my imagination. This story evolves around Agog and Heron. I thought it was entertaining enough as the story starts a 100 years later after the Fire in the Library of Alexandria. There are enough intrigues to go around, and more over that a woman, dressed as a man can outwit all those men with her mind. I really loved how Heron makes inventions and It is an entirely different genre that I usually read, but nonetheless some history facts I do enjoy. Like the Library of Alexandria always captivated my imagination. This story evolves around Agog and Heron. I thought it was entertaining enough as the story starts a 100 years later after the Fire in the Library of Alexandria. There are enough intrigues to go around, and more over that a woman, dressed as a man can outwit all those men with her mind. I really loved how Heron makes inventions and non the less supplies a barbarian with war weapons. A lot of action, friendship, betrayals, sabotage, hardships and maybe a little bit of romance. The setting in Alexandria was colorful to say the least, I could smell and taste the spices in the air. Very entertaining story that I would love to follow up on.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Wood

    Historical Fiction; Alternate History? I first expected a "Da Vinci " type of novel, but I found a much better historical fiction/alternate history storyline. At first, I thought the ancient history might be a flashback, but after being thoroughly intrigued, I was happy to discover that the novel took place approximately two millenia in the past. Very interesting fresh ideas sparkle like diamonds throughout the book. The storyline allows for subsequent events, and I hope to read more of this past a Historical Fiction; Alternate History? I first expected a "Da Vinci " type of novel, but I found a much better historical fiction/alternate history storyline. At first, I thought the ancient history might be a flashback, but after being thoroughly intrigued, I was happy to discover that the novel took place approximately two millenia in the past. Very interesting fresh ideas sparkle like diamonds throughout the book. The storyline allows for subsequent events, and I hope to read more of this past alternative history. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: ALTERNATE HISTORICAL NOVEL...the author points out the disparities in an afterword.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary Irvine

    Great Cover. Instant attraction. Drawn in from the very beginning by vivid, authentic descriptions of Alexandria, not only visual but using all the senses. The city came alive. There were several hooks and foreshadowing of the intrigue to come lots of questions to be answered. Who? What? Why? When? And the journey to the answers is exciting. With obvious assiduous research the background screams authenticity. The plot is credible and the characters believable. The speech conveys the ancient time Great Cover. Instant attraction. Drawn in from the very beginning by vivid, authentic descriptions of Alexandria, not only visual but using all the senses. The city came alive. There were several hooks and foreshadowing of the intrigue to come lots of questions to be answered. Who? What? Why? When? And the journey to the answers is exciting. With obvious assiduous research the background screams authenticity. The plot is credible and the characters believable. The speech conveys the ancient time most subtly. All in all a great story, great background and good writing. Recommend to anyone interested in historical fiction, drama, mystery or just a damn good yarn.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Story about a woman who disguises herself as her deceased twin brother. I assume they were fairly close so wonder why no one questions where she disappeared to or seems aware that he had died. He also had a daughter but I don't recall any mention of her mother. Said brother had a gambling addiction and left his family deeply in debt. Twin sister tries desperately to meet the money lender's demands for payment. It seems that she is barely achieving this yet the money lender is constantly harassin Story about a woman who disguises herself as her deceased twin brother. I assume they were fairly close so wonder why no one questions where she disappeared to or seems aware that he had died. He also had a daughter but I don't recall any mention of her mother. Said brother had a gambling addiction and left his family deeply in debt. Twin sister tries desperately to meet the money lender's demands for payment. It seems that she is barely achieving this yet the money lender is constantly harassing her not only verbally but in physical attacks up to and including her death. This woman is hired by an unknown person to discover who caused a fire at the Alexandria library. This mystery takes a back seat to her quest for survival so most of the book doesn't even address the library.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tony Duxbury

    This is an interesting mix between alternative history and steampunk, although it is set in ancient Egypt. Based on the concept of were-geld, a Germanic barbarian travels to Egypt to have his revenge on Rome for the destruction of his people. Heron is an inventor and mechanic, who has a multitude of problems. What I liked about this is that Agog is a mysterious figure that doesn't give away his intentions until the very end. Heron resolves the mounting problems one by one, but at great cost. Bet This is an interesting mix between alternative history and steampunk, although it is set in ancient Egypt. Based on the concept of were-geld, a Germanic barbarian travels to Egypt to have his revenge on Rome for the destruction of his people. Heron is an inventor and mechanic, who has a multitude of problems. What I liked about this is that Agog is a mysterious figure that doesn't give away his intentions until the very end. Heron resolves the mounting problems one by one, but at great cost. Between the two of them they strike a blow at Rome. I recommend this as a good read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ken Cook

    Heron of Alexandria Historic fiction well done. The seven main characters are drawn well, as the story develops. Interweaving Egyptian and Roman religions with other older beliefs, the cults of temple priests and oracles and day-to-day life allow the development of a clever tale. One reflection: the first two thirds has details and color, bringing the story along at a comfortable pace; then the holes appear and the leaps in the time line feel like a rush to the finish. This is one time, less is no Heron of Alexandria Historic fiction well done. The seven main characters are drawn well, as the story develops. Interweaving Egyptian and Roman religions with other older beliefs, the cults of temple priests and oracles and day-to-day life allow the development of a clever tale. One reflection: the first two thirds has details and color, bringing the story along at a comfortable pace; then the holes appear and the leaps in the time line feel like a rush to the finish. This is one time, less is not more.

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