Owls to Athens
Another excellent historical novel by acclaimed science fiction write Harry Turtledove (here writing under the penname of H. N. Turteltaub), the fourth in his series of books about the adventures of Menedemos and Sostratos, two cousins living on the island of Rhodes shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, who once a year take their family's ship on a trading expedition around the Eastern Mediterranean.
As you would expect from Turtledove he combines high entertainment values with careful attention to historical accuracy, following in the tradition of the late great L. Sprague De Camp, another sf author who also wrote a few wonderful historicals. As was the case with De Camp I admire the fact that Turtledove's characters are recognizable human beings, even the historical figures portrayed, who talk and act in realistic ways, rather than being stick figures who recite pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue as in so many other historical novels set in this period.
In this chapter, the two cousins, Menedemos, the man of action (and devil with the ladies) and Sostratos, the intellectual, travel to the great city of Athens, only to find themselves in the middle of a political and military crisis when the city is invaded and occupied by the forces of Demetrious, son of Antigonus, one of the successors to Alexander the Great. It is already a bitter homecoming for Sostratos, who had studied in one of the famous philosophical schools in the city earlier in his life and had dreamed of returning, only to find, as another philosopher put it, that you can't step in the same river twice. Meanwhile, Menedemos continues his roving ways, in this book seducing not only the wife of his host in Athens, but dangerously advancing his flirtation with his own father's young wife Baukis back in Rhodes.
If you have enjoyed any of the first three books, you will like this one. I have heard there will be seven in all, obviously leading up to a climax with the siege of Rhodes itself by the forces of Antigonos in the last book or two. (I am hoping to see cameo appearances of at least some of the characters from L. Sprague De Camp's book on this period, THE BRONZE GOD OF RHODES.)
My only slight reservation is that this is the first book that has failed to put any of the characters in real jeopardy for a dash of suspense (unless you count Menedemos' constant fears that his adulteries will be discovered by the husband's involved) so it is a little less exciting than previous volumes. But in my opinion a mediocre work by Turtledove is usually more entertaining than most others best work. Still highly recommended.