CATCHING UP: The Last Leg of the Journey

IMG_1803It’s been a while since I posted, mainly due to an unexpected move that was rather stressful and took up much of my time.  But now I’m resettled and happy to announce that the last leg of the journey of SHADOW OF THE LION has begun. The final proofs of Volume two are underway and SHADOW OF THE LION: THE FIELDS OF HADES is due to be published by October this year.inFOLIO Research Group

There have been a lot of delays to the point where I was getting worried, but I am assured that this second book about the fall of Alexander the Great’s dynasty will definitely be out soon. This will  happen while I am in Athens so I am hoping that there will be opportunities for more book readings and perhaps a mini launch while I’m there.

Volume Two THE FIELDS OF HADES picks up the trail of the two joint kings, young Alexander IV (ISKANDER) and his mentally deficient uncle ARRIDAIOS just as they are en route to Pella, the Royal City.  What happens after that is an exciting typical Greek-style tragedy when not only the generals begin to try to seize power, but the women, the  dangerous Queen OLYMPIAS  and the rash and ambition young ADEIA-EURYDIKE set off a deadly Civil War. With our antagonist KASSANDROS predominantly on the scene, the tension builds to a dramatic climax.  I’m sure that readers will be kept on the edges of their seats and pages will be turning as you read this exciting installment of SHADOW.

Stay tuned for further updates as the Publication Date draws nearer!


Who Was Philip II of Macedonia?Высокогорья

Although Philip II is only mentioned in the two volumes of SHADOW OF THE LION, he is still an important character because he was Alexander the Great’s father and one of the greatest warrior kings of the ancient world.

Philip was born about 383 to King Amnytas II and queen Eurydike (one of his two known wives). When he was a youth, Philip was sent as a “hostage” (guest-friend) to Thebes where he learned battle skills from the famous Thracian warrior Epaninandos. He came to power in Macedon in 359 BCE just after Macedonia had suffered a defeat at the hands of the Illyrians. At the time, the country was in political and military turmoil. Philip set out to gain control. Two years later, he defeated the Illyrians and sought to bring all of that area under control. He married the daughter of the Illyrian war-lord Bardylis. They later had a daughter, Kynane, who was married to Philip’s nephew Amyntas. Their daughter, Adeia-Eurydike, is the young warrior woman featured in SHADOW OF THE LION.

Philip had possibly seven wives in total. One of them, Philinna from Larissa, was the mother of Philip Arridaios. His third wife, Olympias, a young princess from Epiros, became the mother of Alexander and Kleopatra. Four years later he married a woman from Pherae and they had a daughter, Thessaloniki.

Alexander was marked early on as Philip’s successor partly due to his promise and partly by the unscrupulous deeds of his powerful mother. (Olympias was suspected as being behind the poisoning of Arridaios at an early age thus rendering her own son’s possible rival, incapacitated). Philip groomed Alexander, giving him the best education under the tutelage of the eminent Aristotle.

In 338 Philip’s army defeated the Athenian and Theban forces at the Battle of Chaeronea even though his own army was greatly outnumbered. Thebes and Athens were forced to become subjects of Philip and garrisons were established with Philip’s allies in control. (This included the garrison at Athens which features in Volume 2 of Shadow of the Lion, THE FIELDS OF HADES. Sparta was the only Greek state not under his domination. At the Council of Corinth the following year, Philip gave freedom and autonomy to all the city states and established a network that would be loyal to him.

Then, with the support of Greece, he declared war on Persia (spring 336). He sent an advance troop over to Asia Minor to begin liberating the Greek cities along the coast. But just before Philip was to travel to Asia himself, he was assassinated.

He was at the old palace of Aigai hosting a wedding reception for his daughter, Kleopatra, to her uncle, the King of Epiros. It was to be an extravagant affair held in the theatre with statues of the twelve Olympic gods and one of Philip. At the moment Philip entered the theatre and alit from his horse, he was stabbed to death by his bodyguard, Pausanias.  It was said that Pausanias sought revenge from Philip because he had been shunned and demeaned as a result of a love affair he’d had with the king. There was suspicion, however, that Pausanias was paid off by the Persians and most probably by Olympias who wanted to get rid of Philip because he had recently married the young daughter of his friend Attalus. To compound this suspicion, after Philip’s death, Olympias had the girl and her newborn child murdered. Philip’s nephew, Amyntas (father of Adeia-Eurydike) was accused of treason in the plot and was executed. To appease the family, later Alexander had Adeia-Eurydike engaged to his mentally deficient brother Arridaios.

During his twenty-three years as ruler Philip took Macedonia from a weak, divided state to one of great military and political eminence. Philip had devoted great attention to his army, training it in advanced skills and arming it with the most effective weapons. By the end of his reign he had increased the size of the army to about 30,000 foot and 3,000 horse. This was the outstanding army inherited by Alexander who was his father’s successor at the age of eighteen.

Unlike his more famous son, Philip was not always invincible in battle. He suffered two severe defeats by the Phocians and failed in his sieges of Perinthus and Byzantium. He suffered serious war wounds in these battles. One reason he succeeded in the end was the way he used bribery. He was a master of deception and his victims were usually unaware of his true intentions. He used his wealth to gain his political allies. Philip’s self-indulgent life style was criticized by his Greek contemporaries – his heavy drinking and wanton sexual desires were expected of Macedonian nobles and kings. Polygamy was practiced. Nearly all his wives were daughters of neighbouring warlords. This led to bitter jealousies and intrigues in the Macedonian court. Philip’s last marriage, in 337, to a young Macedonian nobleman’s daughter was part of his downfall. Olympias was vindictive and dangerous and this union created serious domestic strife, incited by Alexander who opposed his father. What happened at Kleopatra’s wedding was the final rift.



amazon_women_warriorsHer birth name was “Adeia”. The name, “Eurydike” was the dynastic name bestowed on her after her marriage to Philip Arridaios, Alexander’s half-brother.Выбор материалов для ремонта кровли с учетом их совместимости.


Adeia was the granddaughter of two kings, Philip II and his brother, Perdikkas III. Her mother, Kynane, was the offspring of one of Philip II’s war-brides, who was the daughter of Bardylis, an Illyrian warrior-chieftain Philip had defeated when he won Illyria, a tribal country with rugged terrain north-west of the Macedonian border. Kynane was married to one of Philip’s brothers, Amyntas, who as later executed on the charge of treason after Philip’s assassination.


To appease this unpleasant family situation after his father’s death, Alexander engaged Adeia by proxy to her uncle, Arridaios. The engagement was later annulled by Antipater, Regent of Macedon. That did not stop Kynane and Adeia from pursuing the chance to marry into the royal household after Alexander had died, in order to claim the right to the throne and avenge Amyntas’ unjust execution.

Disguised as men, they set off for Asia Minor in the hope of convincing General Perdikkas that the engagement was legitimate. They confronted Perdikkas’ soldiers near Sardis and in the skirmish, Kynane was killed.  When the soldiers realized they had killed Philip II’s daughter, they nearly revolted, so Perdikkas was forced to allow the marriage of Adeia and Arridaios.


Very little (if anything) is written about Adeia-Eurydike so it required imagination and research to develop her character. As she was from a family of warriors on both sides of the family, especially women warriors on her mother’s side, I saw her as a young girl of strong character. She was ambitious, charismatic and tough, often emulating her uncle Alexander. As she had been brought up in the mountains she had likely been taught the skill of a swordwoman, although she was tutored in court manners because she was royalty. She dreamt of being like the famous Scythian swordswoman, Penthathelia mentioned in Homer’s Illiad.  I saw her as a-sexual, usually dressed in boy’s clothes and frequently hanging out with the foot-soldiers. In no time she formed her own faction against Perdikkas.


She made the best of her marriage to Arridaios, who had the mental capacity of a child. In fact, she was using him as her stepping-stone to the throne. Her conflicts with Perdikkas (in Volume One, BLOOD ON THE MOON) and later with Olympias in Volume Two, THE FIELDS OF HADES, have dire consequences.



For the past few months there’s been great excitement in Greece over the revealing of a huge tomb uncovered in Amphipolis, Greek Macedonia.  This sparked a lot of interest for me as I’ve visited Amphipolis on a couple of occasions while doing research for SHADOW OF THE LION.  This site, which at Alexander’s time was an army fortress, is one of the settings in my story:  in the end of Volume One BLOOD ON THE MOON, and for almost the whole last half of Volume Two THE FIELDS OF HADES (to be published in 2016).


In September, as I was going to Macedonia to attend a friend’s book launch, I decided to venture to Amphipolis to see if I could view this remarkable archaeological find.  I took a taxi from the seaside town of Asprovalta and was lucky enough to get a driver who knew the area well.  On our way up to the location, we passed the famous Lion of Amphipolis by the roadside. The lion statue was dedicated to one of Alexander’s generals, Laomedon and it is now believed that it once stood atop the tomb and was taken away by the Romans who left it in its present location.  The statue is 5.3 meters high with a base making it 15.84 meters. It resembles the stone lion statue that was erected on the field of Chaironea in Greece where King Philip II and his young son Alexander defeated the Athenians and annihilated the Theban Sacred Band.


I was only able to view the tomb digs from a distance, across the valley. The tomb is on a hillside inside a 500 meter long surrounding wall of marble and limestone. The wall is 3 meters high with a cornice of marble from the nearby Aegaen Island of Thassos.  The entry has an arch containing two headless sphinxes and steps leading down into the tomb. It is believed the tomb could be the work of Deinokrates, who was the imperial architect during Alexander’s time, the same architect who Alexander had design the city of Alexandria in Egypt.


But whose tomb is it? There is so much speculation:  Was Alexander buried here? Well, not likely as he was embalmed in Babylon where he died in 325 BC and a year later was taken to Alexandria where his body lay in state right up to the time of Cleopatra and the Romans.  Was it Olympias, Alexander’s mother? Not likely either. She was an Epirote, not well liked, and stoned to death by Kassandros. While I visited  Pydna, the site of her death, an archaeologist who was looking for a token tomb there told me she was likely buried in the royal tombs at Vergina where all the Macedonian royalty were laid to rest. Was it Alexander’s Soghdian wife and his son, both who were murdered on Kassandros’ orders at Amphipolis? Not a chance as she was hated by the Macedonians and the boy, Alexander IV is very likely the one occupying a tomb at Vergina that is the tomb of a young Macedonian prince about 14 yrs of age – just the age he was when he was murdered. (This tomb is next to the one where Philip II was found and an archaeologist at the site told me it was a good possibility the prince was Alexander’s son and only legal heir.)

My theory is that it may be the tomb of the Antipatrides family, the biggest clan in Macedonia. Antipater was Regent for both Philip and Alexander. His son, Kassandros was responsible for killing of all of Alexander’s dynasty and was in charge of Amphipolis’s army fortress. Perhaps it is their family, including Kassandros’ wife, Thessaloniki, who was Alexander’s half sister.

On the other hand, now that they have found a large wooden casket with a body inside, it is possible that this might be the tomb of one of the famous generals of the time.  Although, it is strange they found a skeleton, as the Macedonians usually cremated their dead.  The possibilities of who this might be are endless:  Maybe it is really Laomedon whose burial place was marked by the stone lion; perhaps it is Niarchos, who came from Amphipolis and commanded Alexander’s navy. Or could it be General Antigonos the One-Eyed, who died at the age of 81 in the Battle of Ipsus in Phrygia (now Turkey) back in 301 when he was knocked off his horse by a spear. Antigonos was a powerful Successor of Alexander and eventually took control of most of the Empire, including Macedonia, after the downfall of the Antipatrides clan. He was succeeded by his son Demetrius who took control in 294 BC. This dynasty lasted until 1966 BC when they were defeated at the Battle of Pydna by the Romans.

These characters are all major players in SHADOW OF THE LION. So whoever it is buried in that massive tomb, it’s all relevant and has certainly help keep the interest in Alexander the Great and his place in history alive!

(NOTE: Closeup tomb photos courtesy of internet sources.)


SHADOW OF THE LION: Book 1 “Blood On the Moon” begins in Babylon on the day of Alexander the Great’s death.  I researched as much as I could about that ancient city because, being a ‘visual’ writer, I like to get the details as correct as possible. The British Museum in London had some of the old walls and other artifacts on display and from my research I was able to visualize what it may have looked like. 



A month after Alexander’s death, his Soghdian wife, Roxana, gave birth to a son, Alexander’s only legal heir.  In the novel, he is called by his Persian name “Iskander” although the Macedonians refer to him as “little Alexander”. The infant is named joint-king with Alexander’s mentally deficient half-brother, Arridaios. A year later the journey of the royals begins, from Babylon across the country on the Persian Royal Road, back to Macedonia. It takes them to the Mediterranean coast, up to the city of Ephesus and eventually back down the coast to Egypt where Ptolemy, Alexander’s illegitimate half-brother has established the city of Alexandria.


Temple of Artemis, Ephesus

Returning up the coast they proceed north to the ancient city of Troy (Ilium).  I’ve been lucky to travel up part of that coast to Ephesus and Troy, so it gave me a good visual image of the landscape, though at the time of the story, the sea came right up to the cities making them both important ports. Today they are about 5 kms from the sea.


Troy (Ilium)

Eventually, the travelers crossed the Hellespont, stopping to make offerings at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the island of Samothraki. This is a beautiful little island, not often on the tourist trail, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit there twice. Then, on to Thrace (the Macedonian garrison at Doriskos) which is near the location of today’s Alexandropoulis.


The Lion of Amphipolis

On my travels across the country to the archaeological sites I made careful notes of all the sensory details and the flora and fauna so that I could include them in the narrative of the story. On my first visit to Amphipolis, a remarkable thing happened that I took to be an ‘omen’. As I walked up the road headed toward the hill where the old fort was, past the famous stone lion (a grave tribute to one of Alexander’s generals), a sudden bolt of forked lightening came down right over the hill. I didn’t go any farther that day but on another trip I went right up to the archaeological site where they were digging for finds dating to Alexander’s time. As I explored the site, mentally calculating where there might be a route down from the old fortress, a snake slithered across in the dust of the road in front of me. Another omen!


Amphiplolis (remains of gates)

From Amphipolis, the royal entourage would have taken more than a week or two to reach Macedonia because of the lumbering elephants that were escorting them and the carts and baggage they had accumulated.  And when they finally arrived at Pella, it would be quite a sight and relief for the weary travelers. The journey had taken them well over a year. But at last they were there, in Alexander’s royal city!



I’ve made three trips to Pella but each time I wasn’t able to visit the actual palace site.  In the little museum there is a model of what it looked like so it gave me a good idea of the structure. The palace was built on a hillside overlooking the city.  It was the administrative centre as well as a grand royal residence. The monumental palatial complex covered an area of 60,000 meters and was decorated with fabulous mosaics and paintings by the famous painter Zeuxis. The city itself had the biggest agora of the ancient world. The ruins of the main avenue which connected with the city’s port, are still visible today.


Mosaic of Alexander and  Hephaestion Lion Hunting (Pella)

There are other locations in the novel that I visited as well, including Dodona in Epirus where Alexander’s mother lived in exile, the old palace at Aigai and the theatre where Alexander’s father was assassinated, Vergina where the royal tombs are located, and Dion, the Macedonians sacred city near Mount Olympus. At Pydna, a military fortress on the coast, I met the archaeologist who had discovered the trench that had been built around the fort and was searching for Olympias’ burial site. This location, as well as Amphipolis, is important in the second book of SHADOW OF THE LION , subtitled “The Fields of Hades”. It covers much of the area of Thessaly and Attika, including Athens and the Peloponnese, where I have spent a great deal of time during my research trips to Greece.

Just as the journey from Babylon was an arduous and long journey for the characters of the novel, so it was for me too. I tried to be as accurate as I could with locations and descriptions to place the readers right in the scene so they could imagine what the world of my characters in SHADOW OF THE LION might have been like.




Introduction to SHADOW OF THE LION

When Alexander the Great, King of Macedon and conqueror of Asia, dies suddenly under suspicious circumstances at the age of thirty-three in Babylon, everyone who lives in his shadow are affected.  As the after-shocks of his death bring disorder in his Empire from Macedon to Persia, a deadly power struggle begins over who will

At the centre of this political conflict is Alexander’s son, Iskander, born after Alexander’s death to his Soghdian wife Roxana.  Neither the boy nor his mother are accepted by the Macedonians who wanted a pure-blooded Macedonian to take the throne and chose Alexander’s mentally deficient half-brother Philip Arridaios to act as a joint-king, until little Alexander comes of age to claim the throne.

SHADOW OF THE LION is a story of political intrigue, ruthless ambition, racial prejudice, child abuse and exploitation.  It is a true story, with all the ingredients of a Greek tragedy.  The ‘shadow’ and spirit of Alexander is the golden thread woven throughout this vivid tapestry.  The differences between the opulent, aristocratic Persians and the rough highland warriors of Macedon provide a colourful contrast in the warp and weft of the prose.