Translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson
The year is 323 BCE. King Alexander of Macedonia—Alexander the Great—lies paralysed by poison in his palace in Babylon. He is thirty-two years old, had Aristotle as a mentor, and is the greatest military commander the world has ever seen. At the other end of the palace, Phyllis, a cook for Alexander’s army, sits locked in a room, arrested on suspicion of being the poisoner. All of her adult life she has lived in the field—and for a long period of time was Alexander’s lover.
Who has poisoned the king? Phyllis is allowed to live as long as she writes down everything she knows about Alexander. She tells a brutal story of the violent daily life in the war, about the planning of the expansion into the Arabian Peninsula, about an invisible library containing marvellous manuscripts and discoveries, and about the passion between a cook and a king.
About the Author
Thorvald Steen has published a wide range of novels, plays, collections of poems and short stories, children’s books and essays. His Norwegian breakthrough came in 1992 with a cycle of poems, Ilden, and shortly afterwards he achieved international recognition with his creative historical novels Don Carlos, Giovanni, Constantinople and Camel Clouds. In 2006, he wrote the coming-of-age-novel The Weight of Snow Crystals, followed in 2008 with the freestanding sequel The Longest Leap.
A historical novel that animates history by going to the heart of the human experience. In a pictorial, but concise language, Steen manages to make the story of Alexander the Great come alive for the reader. Deichman – Oslo Public Library, Norway