RAR – Amazon 5 Star Review – Nov 2023
Once again, we are invited into the world Argent Wood has created through the lens of history.
Alexander and Hephaestion are together.
And once again Argent has presented to us the lovers, Alexander and Hephaestion, as they continue their journey into history.
Alexander and Hephaestion’s intimate relationship remains the bedrock-the overarching theme (of which there are many the discerning reader and student of Alexander the Great will recognize)-is the unassailable love between our heroes, Alexander and Hephaestion.
Not many pages pass before we are alone again with them.
After the brutality and atrocities of war and battles, the ‘silly, petty conceits and protocols of the Persian Empire,’ the unwanted , but often necessary public kingship ‘trappings’ and ‘roles to play,’ the lovers’ respite is their sanctuary: The warm, gentle quietude of their rooms. Here they, and we, are most happy, loved, and safe from that often-invasive outside world.
The heartbreaking and achingly real fierce protectiveness and enduring devotion (which is historically documented) that Alexander feels for Hephaestion and that Hephaestion displays for Alexander, our author presents to us with complete surety and fearlessness. We are never disappointed. Neither are we worried or concerned about any outside influence adversely affecting them, no matter the ‘slings and arrows’ of opinions, the jealousies, the inevitable factions—because none of that affects ‘them’. History has spoken and Argent Wood has found its voice.
Imagination meets history.
We are immersed in sweet nostalgia, living among Alexander and Hephaestion and their Companions and friends. Those whom we have already met, and a few recently introduced. Each has a unique personality and voice, and all are realistically created. We can’t help, for many reasons, but love them all. They are delightful.
Time and again, alone together, Alexander eases Hephaestion’s doubts and fears and Hephaestion soothes and comforts Alexander in his singular ‘The God-King’ burden, and his all-too-human insecurities and vulnerabilities.
In Hephaestion’s ‘beloved voice,’ sung at those times he does so, we see his Alexander. He brings a new clarity to Alexander the man, and Alexander the ‘King,’ the ‘King of Asia’ and ‘Pharoah of Egypt,’ as can only be realized through the eyes of Alexander’s beloved.
Argent’s description of the scenes between Alexander and Hephaestion-and of Alexader’s passion and tears-are so poignant that we feel what Alexander feels in his anguish and frustration of his dreams and visions not being understood or realized as possibilities. We feel Hephaestion’s deep sense of responsibility and love and protectiveness. And then, Alexander, knowing with a warm and satisfying certainty, that he is never alone as long as he has his Hephaestion, whose dreams, hopes and visions for Alexander’s kingship are the very same.
Hephaestion is (kallos) beautiful!
We absolutely love his character and his voice. He remains the most beloved of all; he is real and tender, understanding and kind, loving and sensitive, intelligent, supremely confident in his own abilities, and due to Alexander’s love for him, utterly human, and still ‘beyond beautiful.’
We love him, and can understand, at least a little, why-how-such a man, ‘Alexander the Great,’ loved him all his life.
Argent shows us that ‘the seemingly incompatible’ is very much possible. The reason, again, is Alexander and Hephaestion’s, and the others’, lives, are drawn from the historical texts. The ancient sources have set this down, and Argent lovingly and with insightful skill brought it all together in story form, breathing life and cohesion with such clarity and beauty as well as a deep understanding of the historical figures.
Argent’s lyrical prose graces every incident, moving us into the visionary. Many passages are so exquisitely drawn that we not only visualize the surroundings, but we feel the atmosphere: The cold and the warmth, storms and breezes, thirst and hunger—even the little ever delightful things peppered throughout every reader will enjoy-the sights, sounds and scents of battle, camp and court life, and stunning vistas beautifully described, making us believe we are actually there with Alexander and Hephaestion and their Companions.
The ancient sources present Alexander and Hephaestion to us, naturally; Argent gives them life and depth.
Alexander and Hephaestion sing to us through the ancient texts guaranteeing that they will be sung through the ages.
Argent Wood, our wonderful author, has added the melody to that song.
Amazon 5 Star Review – A Superb 2nd Vol on the Life of Alexander the Great – Nov 2023
This second volume on the life of Alexander is, if possible, even more fascinating the the first. As he engages in battle after battle in his determination to stamp out injustices and create a kinder, more humane world, we see the self-doubt that begins to creep in as he struggles not only with his changing relationships, but with the carnage that war necessarily generates. We see the man rather than the God Alexander was purported to be; we feel his deep reciprocal love for Hephaistion; we admire his strategic expertise on the battleground. This is ancient history brought to life in a way which engages the reader much more effectively than any academic tract. The author’s obvious in-depth knowledge of ancient Greek history, and especially the life of Alexander, has produced this utterly riveting follow up to ‘In The Company Of Friends’. Having previously known almost nothing about the subject, I now cannot wait for the final volume. Highly recommended.