Well, I finally finished reading The Afghan Campaign. I am taking to reading books now before I buy them since so many lay half read yet. I did finish this one, and have to commend Steve Pressfield again for a really entertaining and fulfilling read.
Now, granted, I know that this is a very visceral book as Steven always loves to write paragraphs full of vivid descriptions of the really gruesome details of war. He did not live up to past reputation in this book as he seems to be involved in some other desire in this communication effort.
But it is full of great details, thoughtful insights into the nature of the times, and he seems to be more interested in developing characterization than in merely intimidating his readers as he did in previous books. He has a chapter in which he analyzes the enemy and his description of Spitamenes is well worth the reading of this book if nothing else is. I loved his insights into the mountain people of Afghanistan, even if some of it seemed to be a bit reminiscent of today's Afghanistan, and occasionally he will make a relapse into Bactria, but usually we are in Afghanistan.
He does do one little booboo that made me wince! His ability to make Alexander take the hit on the neck which was a very serious injury, costing Alexander the power of speech and sight for awhile, and return to his normal self in a such a short time I felt a bit of a tug on the historical accuracy of books of fiction. I would have preferred he made the injury as serious as it is described by historians, but in this case, it seems as though he is checking if the reader knows Alexander at all or is he just a fan of Steve's writing.
Another description of Alexander I groaned about was the idea that at such a young age, he looks like he is an aged old man. I found that a bit dubious at best also.
And finally, I don't like the contrast of the romantic Alexander being so lucky in love and having such a wonderful merry time at his marriage ceremony while our pov character is suffering the pangs and sorrows of misery in his own personal life. I will not give this plot away, but I thought that the heroic Alexander with happiness and romance to be a terrible contrast to our slave boy being tortured by his own unhappy and bad luck.
Steven has an agenda there I dare say.
But his understanding of why men behaved as they did, whether a member of Alexander's army or a member of the adversaries forces is well done and certainly an important asset to understanding the times. I believe that many people are put off by the number of men and tribes killed by Alexander but Steven Pressfield certainly knows how to state a case by which we can sympathize with Alexander and his Macedonians in their efforts to subdue the Asian world.
I like this book. I recommend it. It is courageous, bold, and daring. It has a touch of romance in it, but sadly, that romance belongs to Alexander and we never truly learn anything of him at all, only that of Mathias and the suffering that all army wives endure and all soldiers shoulder. It is a good story, not as good as Gates of Fire. But then we are only on the road with Alexander, and at the back end of it yet to boot. But fortunately, Alexander does make a few personal appearances so that Steve can put words in his mouth for the reader to contemplate and understand. Good move, Steve. I think you need to write a sequel now!