Official Review: Tyrants and Poets by Steven R Green

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joshfee77
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Official Review: Tyrants and Poets by Steven R Green

Post by joshfee77 » 19 Sep 2018, 07:28

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Tyrants and Poets" by Steven R Green.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Tyrants and Poets by Steven R. Green is historical fiction based in Ancient Greece. Teenage girl Cleis is sent from her home to the town of Brauron to complete the Arkteia, a rite of passage for girls approaching womanhood. She is a strong, independent young woman who doesn't want to follow the path set for her by her family, of finding a man and spending her life as a devoted housewife. As one girl tearfully asks: "Why can Artemis run free when we must surrender to a husband?" Looking out to sea, Cleis is tempted by the prospect of travel and adventure. Her friend Antiope shares her hunger to explore the world. Eurybiades, a member of the Spartan infantry, buys Cleis from her father and makes her his wife. After a time living together, his eye wanders to other women, and Cleis plans her escape...

This book has plenty of rich, evocative description. For example: "The stringent scent of pine mingled with the sharp seduction of thyme, sage, and oregano, which was then sweetened by the redolence of lilacs and oleander." This really brings the story to life, especially when incorporating smells and other senses. Parts of the narrative - dealing with the poet, Sappho, and her followers - are particularly sensual, as they are very free with their physical affections toward each other. The author handles these scenes deftly, with plenty of sexuality and sexual activity portrayed without devolving into crude pornography.

Tyrants and Poets includes much talk of the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece - such as Zeus, Aphrodite, Eros, and Ares - and of honouring the past. There is a real sense of history and folklore, with the "present" of the story brought to life beautifully through food, clothing, and customs of the time. The only slight negative is that readers lacking prior knowledge - of items of clothing with unusual names, for instance - might take time to work out what the named items are. However, the context is usually enough to suggest the type of garment.

Green includes a note at the end of the book on the ease with which he was able to research all the historical figures on the internet. This shows throughout the story; the environment feels totally immersive, filled with uniquely named items from Ancient Greece. Unfortunately, not much of a Greek scholar myself, I found it a little confusing at times. However, I learned plenty! There are a few difficult names such as Clytemnestra, Iphigenia, Eurybiades, and Antimenidas. These slowed me down and took me out of the story a little as I struggled to pronounce them in my head when reading them.

The attitude of men toward women, particularly in Athens, is archaic and chauvinistic compared to the relative equality of the sexes today. Eurybiades pays Cleis's father a dowry for his teenage daughter's hand in marriage, roughly takes her virginity before the wedding, then jokes about it with the girl's father right after the event! Given this complete lack of respect for women, I was not surprised to see Cleis make her escape to seek adventure with poet Sappho and her followers.

I found ten minor errors in the first quarter of the book, including a few misspellings of the name Charoxos as "Charaxos" and "Chalaxos". There was also occasional incorrect word use, such as "alluded" for "eluded" and "drawer" for "draw". Overall, I rate Tyrants and Poets 3 out of 4 stars, with one star removed for these errors. I feel this book is a little heavy for the casual reader. I would recommend it more for scholars with a strong interest in Ancient Greece. The descriptive writing and poetry are of high quality, making this a worthwhile read for those who enjoy this sort of historical fiction.

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Post by kandscreeley » 24 Sep 2018, 08:14

It's too bad about the grammatical errors when the descriptions are so rich with meaning. It sounds like a great book for those that enjoy that time period. I'm afraid it's not really the book for me, but I do appreciate your lovely review.
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Post by Amberlily » 24 Sep 2018, 12:58

I love reading about the Greek gods, and I'm glad the book was able to realistically capture the treatment of women at that time period. When I hear/read things like that, it makes me very thankful to live in our current time. Those spelling and grammatical errors are a shame though... when I see things like that in a book it makes me wonder how legitimate their research was. We have no idea if those misspellings were just a slip of the hand or some sort of confusion on the authors end. Great review!

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Post by joshfee77 » 28 Sep 2018, 17:43

kandscreeley wrote:
24 Sep 2018, 08:14
It's too bad about the grammatical errors when the descriptions are so rich with meaning. It sounds like a great book for those that enjoy that time period. I'm afraid it's not really the book for me, but I do appreciate your lovely review.
I must admit I did struggle a little with my limited knowledge of Ancient Greece, but it was a well-written book with some nice description. Just needs a final edit. Thanks!

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Post by joshfee77 » 28 Sep 2018, 17:49

Amberlily wrote:
24 Sep 2018, 12:58
I love reading about the Greek gods, and I'm glad the book was able to realistically capture the treatment of women at that time period. When I hear/read things like that, it makes me very thankful to live in our current time. Those spelling and grammatical errors are a shame though... when I see things like that in a book it makes me wonder how legitimate their research was. We have no idea if those misspellings were just a slip of the hand or some sort of confusion on the authors end. Great review!
Yeah, women definitely have far greater equality in today's world, which I think is better for everyone! No human being should be treated as the property of another. As for the errors, having reviewed a number of books now, I sometimes wonder how much auto-correct is responsible for (eg. "effect" for "affect" or similar). I personally can't stand auto-correct. It all gets switched off when I write! Thanks for your comments.

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Post by Amberlily » 29 Sep 2018, 11:24

joshfee77 wrote:
28 Sep 2018, 17:49
Amberlily wrote:
24 Sep 2018, 12:58
I love reading about the Greek gods, and I'm glad the book was able to realistically capture the treatment of women at that time period. When I hear/read things like that, it makes me very thankful to live in our current time. Those spelling and grammatical errors are a shame though... when I see things like that in a book it makes me wonder how legitimate their research was. We have no idea if those misspellings were just a slip of the hand or some sort of confusion on the authors end. Great review!
Yeah, women definitely have far greater equality in today's world, which I think is better for everyone! No human being should be treated as the property of another. As for the errors, having reviewed a number of books now, I sometimes wonder how much auto-correct is responsible for (eg. "effect" for "affect" or similar). I personally can't stand auto-correct. It all gets switched off when I write! Thanks for your comments.
I actually hadn't considered that, but that's a really good point! Auto-correct often happens without us even realizing it half the time. Plus, writing programs can't catch everything for you, even with plugins like Grammarly. I guess this just goes to show that human eyes are still required to polish off a book.

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Post by topdan30 » 07 Oct 2018, 11:20

This is a book that will offer more. Like having a read that will get me informed. Thanks for the detailed review.

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