On the banks of the ageless Nile, from a palace of gold and lapis lazuli, the young Caliph Rashid al-Hasan rules as a figurehead over a crumbling empire. Cairo is awash in deception. In the shadow of the Gray Mosque, generals and emirs jockey for position under the scheming eyes of the powerful grand vizier. In the crowded souks and narrow alleys, warring factions employ murder and terror to silence their opponents. Egypt bleeds. And the scent draws her enemies in like sharks: the swaggering Kurd, Shirkuh, who serves the pious Sultan of Damascus and Amalric, the Christian king of Jerusalem whose greed is insatiable and whose knights are hungry for battle.
And yet, all is not lost. There is an old man who lives on a remote mountainside in a distant land. He holds the power of life and death over the warring factions of the Muslim world – and decides to come to the Caliph’s aid. He sends his greatest weapon into Egypt. He sends a single man. An Assassin. The one they call the Emir of the Knife….
In this lighting-paced epic, bestselling author Scott Oden masterfully blends history and adventure in the style of Robert E. Howard. Bringing medieval Cario, the true jewel of the Arabian Nights, to exhilarating life, full of intrigue and thunderous battle, Oden resurrects one of the Ancient World’s most beautiful and beguiling countries.
“The mark of exceptional historical fiction is its creation of an alien world so convincing (and peopled by such fascinating characters) that the reader never wants to go back to the real world. Scott Oden delivers exactly that in The Lion of Cairo, a tale of Assad the assassin that reads like a cross between the Arabian Nights and a Hollywood blockbuster. Memnon and Men of Bronze put Mr. Oden squarely on the hist/fiction map. The Lion of Cairo assures his place in the very front rank.” — Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire)
Memnon of Rhodes (375-333 BCE) walked in the footsteps of giants. As a soldier, sailor, statesman, and general, he was, in the words of Diodorus of Sicily, “outstanding in courage and strategic grasp.” A contemporary of Demosthenes and Aristotle, Memnon rose from humble origins to command the whole of western Asia in a time of strife and slaughter. To his own people, he was a traitor, to his rivals, a mercenary. But, to the King of Kings, his majesty Darius III of Persia, Memnon was the one man capable of defending Asia Minor from the rising power of the barbaric Macedonians. In a war pitting Greek against Greek, Memnon proved his quality beyond measure. His enemies fought for glory and gold; Memnon fought for something more, for loyalty, for honor, and for duty. He fought for the love of Barsine, a woman of remarkable beauty and grace. Most of all, he fought for the promise of peace. Through the deathbed recollections of a mysterious woman, the life of Memnon unfolds with brilliant clarity. It is a record of his triumphs and tragedies, his loves and losses, and of the determination that drove him to stand against the most renowned figure of the ancient world—the ambitious young conqueror called Alexander the Great.
“Oden (Men of Bronze) follows his critically acclaimed debut with an eloquent and captivating historical thriller that chronicles the life of Memnon of Rhodes, a Greek mercenary in the service of Persia. A contemporary of Aristotle and Alexander the Great, Memnon flees his home on the Greek island of Rhodes after his father is beheaded during an uprising. Hoping to fulfill his dream of becoming “a living Achilles,” he signs on as a lieutenant to a Persian provincial governor and discovers his talent as a leader and tactician—more an Odysseus than an Achilles. (He even has his own Penelope, a Persian princess named Barsine, who fulfills her role in the requisite tragic love subplot.) When Alexander invades Asia Minor, the Persian King Darius III retains Memnon, the foreign mercenary “with the powers of a Persian general… to repel the Macedonians.” It’s a spectacular battle that has dire consequences for Memnon. Historians have paid scant attention to Memnon of Rhodes, but Oden, who admits to “have taken spectacular liberties” with the incomplete historical record, brings the man and his times to life with a combination of vivid conjecture, deft plotting and graceful prose.” — Publishers Weekly (Aug.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Map for MEMNON
One of the biggest complaints about MEMNON is the lack of a map. The fault is my own: prior to publication, I neglected to provide a map to my editor. And, with a tale that wanders about the ancient landscape of Asia Minor, a map is necessary. Here’s one that readers can use:
It is 526 B.C. and the empire of the Pharaohs is dying, crushed by the weight of its own antiquity. Decay riddles its cities, infects its aristocracy, and weakens its armies. While across the expanse of Sinai, like jackals drawn to carrion, the forces of the King of Persia watch and wait. Leading the fight to preserve the soul of Egypt is Hasdrabal Barca, Pharaoh’s deadliest killer. Possessed of a rage few men can fathom and fewer can withstand, Barca struggles each day to preserve the last sliver of his humanity. But, when one of Egypt’s most celebrated generals, a Greek mercenary called Phanes, defects to the Persians, it triggers a savage war that will tax Barca’s skills, and his humanity, to the limit. From the political wasteland of Palestine, to the searing deserts east of the Nile, to the streets of ancient Memphis, Barca and Phanes play a desperate game of cat-and-mouse — a game culminating in the bloodiest battle of Egypt’s history. Caught in the midst of this violence is Jauharah, a slave in the House of Life. She is Arabian, dark-haired and proud — a healer with gifts her blood, her station, and her gender overshadow. Though her hands tend to Barca’s countless wounds, it is her spirit that heals and changes him. Once a fearsome demigod of war, Hasdrabal Barca becomes human again.
“In 526 B.C., the kingdom of Egypt is decaying, threatened by treachery from within and by a massive Persian invasion from without. Hasdrabal Barca, a Phoenician mercenary in service to the pharaoh, has sworn to protect Egypt’s eastern border from Bedouin marauders and foreign invaders. Fueled by a secret, personal tragedy, Barca is merciless and cunning in battle, feared by enemies and his own men alike. But he’s steadfastly loyal to the pharaoh, so when he discovers that a powerful Greek mercenary garrison is plotting to betray him to the Persians, Barca must act to save Egypt from invasion. The traitorous Greek commander, Phanes, learns that Barca knows of the plot, so he sets his plan in motion early. As Barca and Phanes maneuver to thwart each other, the Persians draw closer, and an Egyptian priest, Ujahorresnet, conspires to exact revenge for a 20-year-old grudge. Pharaoh is weak, with a few loyal subjects competing with traitors and assassins for his trust. Amid this court intrigue, an educated slave girl, Jauharah, emerges to help Barca protect the pharaoh and save Egypt. Barca and Jauharah fall in love, which results in profound and tragic changes for both. Oden’s masterful story of bloody battles, political intrigues, betrayal and romance offers a gripping portrait of the collapse of an empire.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review (June) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.