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Robin Levin
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Attended University of California, Berkeley
Lives in San Francisco
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Robin Levin

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I met Cara two years ago at the S.F. writer's conference and I'm looking forward to reading one of her books.
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Robin Levin

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This is an excerpt from my WIP The Last Carthaginian. Twelve year old Gillimas has survived the siege of Carthage and has had the good fortune to be adopted by Ectorius, the son of a Roman prison of war and a Greek slave woman. Ectorius had brought him to live on a farm he owns a share in.
Gaius Brunius showed me how to saddle the horse and Ectorius took her reins and led her to the mounting block. “First you climb on the block, then you mount the horse.” I was a little scared, but I did as he said and I found myself astride the mare. He gave me a stick. “When you want her to go, hit her hindquarters with this stick. If you want her to slow down, pull up on the reins. If you want her to turn left pull the reins to the left and if you want her to turn right, pull the reins to the right. I’m going to ride with you and we will ride around the corral.”
After we rode around the corral a few times, Ectorius thought that we were ready to ride down to the river. When we got there Ectorius said, “Gillimas, you asked me why the Romans came to destroy Carthage. Do you really want to know?”
I looked at him. His continence was grave, solemn. I hesitated, then said, “Yes, I want to know.”
“Then come with me.” We rode along the bank of the river until we came to a wooden bridge. After crossing the bridge we rode northward for about half an hour and found ourselves in the middle of a broad plain surrounded by low hills. It was windy and the strong breeze summoned up clouds of dust.
“This wind is called the Vulturnus.” Said Ectorius, “Your Hannibal was very clever. He positioned his men so that the wind was at their backs, and blew into the faces of the Romans. This is the battle field of Cannae where seventy years ago took place a huge battle between Carthage and Rome. The remains of 50,000 Roman and allied dead lie in this plain. One of them was my father’s brother, Gaius. When I was about your age I passed through here with my father, who had spent over twenty years a slave in Greece after being captured by Hannibal at the battle of Trasimene, far to the north of here.  My father got off of his horse and knelt upon the ground. I still remember the simple poem he intoned:
“The wind blows,
The years pass
I see your face, my brother
I hear your voice
Our love resists the ravages of time.
Gaius, I have not forgotten thee.”
We were silent for some time. I was anxious to leave this evil place. I said, “Perhaps someday I will understand, Papa Ectorius. You don’t have to tell me what it’s like to lose brothers. But you said that you did not agree that Carthage should be destroyed. Why?”
Ectorius enunciated his answer as though he wanted to impress the thought forever in my psyche: “Because one evil deed does not expiate another.”
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This is another excerpt from my work in progress The Last Carthaginian:
One day, late in the afternoon we heard yelling and shouting. “The Romans are in Megara! The Romans are in Megara! All citizens to the Byrsa!”
Simabal and I were still too weak to climb to the Byrsa. Matessa took us up to the roof and we looked out over the Megara. We could see the Roman soldiers streaming over the wall. Someone had fashioned a bridge from a tower just outside the wall to the wall itself and the Romans were pouring over, climbing down ladders that they had placed against the inside of the wall.  
“Lie down and don’t show yourselves,” said Matessa.
“What if they burn the house?” I asked.
Matessa did not answer. Just then we saw a mob of Hasdrubal’s soldiers enter Megara from the inner city. They confronted the invaders and drove them back. Scipio must have given the order to retreat because the Romans were clambering up their ladders and going back over the wall to their own side where their camp was. Not all of the Romans made it, however. A few dozen were taken prisoner.
Hasdrubal left a large contingent of soldiers to guard the Megara. Matessa, Simabal and I spent an uneasy night. When would the Romans be back? What would they do to us?
Grandfather finally came home from an emergency Senate meeting. Uncle Hanno was with him. “Grandfather, we’re scared!” I exclaimed.
“We are ready for them if they try to come in again,” said Grandfather. “You can see all the soldiers on patrol.” I nodded, but was not completely reassured.
The next morning I woke to the sound of horrendous screams.  They seemed to be coming from the direction of the place where the Romans had made their entrance. There was more than one person screaming and, whoever they were, it was obvious that they were in unbearable pain.
“I’d better see what’s going on,” said Grandfather. “This can’t be anything good.”
I trailed after Grandfather. In retrospect I wished that he had forbidden me, but neither of us were prepared for what we were to see. I had not had breakfast, which, as it happened, turned out to be a good thing. As we approached the wall there was a platoon of soldiers standing by in formation. Hasdrubal was with them issuing orders. Upon the wall, which was several feet thick at the top, soldiers were maiming, mutilating and torturing Roman prisoners who had been taken last night, in direct view of the Roman camp situated on the other side. The screams of the victims rent the air. I could not actually see what they were doing, but could only hear the screams. I could, however, see streams of blood flowing down from the top of the wall. I could hear imprecations and curses coming from the Romans on the other side of the wall who were witnessing the atrocities. I could not understand Latin, but from the tone of their voices I could imagine what they were saying. Other residents of Megara came out to see what was going on and a crowd gathered.
Grandfather was normally a soft-spoken man, but now he was shouting. “Hasdrubal! Hasdrubal son of Hamilcar!”
Hasdrubal turned toward him, scowling. “This is not worthy of Carthage!” shouted Grandfather. “You bring the wrath of the gods down upon us with these deeds. You have condemned us all. Now not a single Carthaginian will be spared, and rightly so! Cease these impious acts now!”
“Ah, Gillimas, son of Gisco!” sneered Hasdrubal. “The Romans are simply learning what their fate will be if they are caught within the walls of Carthage. And you will soon learn what the fate will be of men who defy me.” Then he shouted “This man harbors the sister of the traitor Phameas! Shall such a man be permitted to live?” There were threatening murmurs among the crowd, but then the attention of the crowd was diverted by renewed screaming coming from the top of the wall.
“We will deal with you later, Gillimas, son of Gisco,” said Hasdrubal. “I’m busy with other things right now, as you can see.” Hasdrubal was clearly getting satisfaction from the spectacle he was creating for the benefit of the Romans.”
I followed after Grandfather. “What are you going to do now, Grandfather?”
“I am going to report this matter to the Senate,” he said.  “I will recommend that we surrender the city now and beg for mercy, although I doubt that the Romans will be inclined to grant it. If they take the city by force, though, they won’t leave one man, woman or child alive, that much is certain”
I followed Grandfather as he headed toward the inner city, and to the place of assembly. News of what was happening on the wall had preceded us and we could still hear screaming in the distance. Men gathered around Grandfather. “You’ve come from Megara?” someone asked. “What is going on there?”
“They are flaying Romans on the wall, right in front of the Roman camp,” said Grandfather. “We need to call an emergency meeting of the Senate.”
The crowd was shocked and silent. We all knew what this meant. Hasdrubal was leaving us no room for accommodation with the Romans. We were all doomed.
I waited outside while Grandfather entered the Senate house. I watched as other Senators made their way inside. In normal times I would have wandered around looking for a shop that sold sweets or other snacks, but now I knew that there was nothing to be found. A boy of about my own age approached me. I recognized him. He was also from the Megara and also had an older brother who was sent as a hostage to Rome. “Hello, Himilco,” I said to him.
“Gillimas, do you have anything to eat?”
“No,” I said. “I haven’t even eaten breakfast. And anyway, I’m not allowed to give away food even if I had some.” Seeing his downcast expression, I added “I’m sorry.”
I realized how hungry I was. “I will be back, Himilco. You stay here and I will try to sneak something out for you, although I’ll be in real trouble if Auntie finds out.”
He smiled. “Alright, I will wait.”
I headed back to Megara and as I approached our mansion I heard loud keening. The voice was female and the cries were of intense grief, not pain. Having heard both sounds many times I knew how to distinguish between the two. I found Simabal in the common room, wailing.
“They’ve killed Uma! They’ve killed my Uma!
 The place was in shambles. Matessa’s body lay crumpled on the floor. She had been beaten and run through with a sword. Blood pooled around the body.
“They said that she was the sister of the traitor Phameas and that she must die!”
I didn’t know what to do. Simabal needed me, but at the same time I had to go and tell Grandfather. I decided to deal with Simabal first, as it wasn’t likely that the guards at the Senate building would let me in to see Grandfather. I took her by the hand and led her to a couch. “Sit down, Simabal. Stop screaming, it will only bring unwanted attention to us. It won’t bring Auntie Matessa back.” She sat and wept and I put my arms around her. “This is more than I can bear, Gillimas,” she said “Everybody is dead. Everybody I loved. What’s the point in living anymore? Ah, Gillimas, who can bear so much grief?”
I had no answers for her. I had no answers for myself. “It makes no sense,” I said. “It makes no sense at all. This world is mad. The Romans are mad. The Carthaginians are mad. It’s all beyond my comprehension!”
“Gillimas, get me some tinder for a fire,” she said. “I will boil some water for an infusion. I will make myself a sleeping draught. Uma taught me how. I can’t bear to be conscious now, knowing Uma is dead.”
I gathered twigs and leaves and she built a fire in the fire pit and heated water over it. “Do you want some too?” she asked.
“No, I have to go and tell Grandfather.” I said.
I remembered Himilco and decided to gather up some of the dried fruit and nuts from the secret storage room. I was unpleasantly surprised to see how little there was left. Last summer we couldn’t forage because everyone else had the same idea by then and they had picked the trees clean. I filled two pouches, one for me and one for Himilco.
“What took you so long, Gillimas?” said Himilco. “I had just about given up.” I gave him the pouch. He grinned at me. “This is just what I need!” He started to munch on a dried fig, chewing it slowly and carefully, savoring every morsel.
“Have people died in your family, Himilco?”
He looked at me as though I were an idiot. “Of course, bird brain, just about everyone. War, famine, plague. Where have you been? I got one brother who was taken hostage by the Romans and another in the army. The little ones are all dead. There’s hardly a child under ten living in Carthage. Uma is useless, all she does is cry. My brother who is in the army comes and brings us what he can, but it’s never enough.”
I didn’t have the heart to ask about his Aba. “They just killed my Auntie.” I said.
“Who killed her?” asked Himilco.
“I don’t know, I wasn’t there.” I didn’t tell him that she was the sister of Phameas for fear that he might agree with the killers.
We chatted for a while longer, agreeing that the world was crazy. Finally the Senators started to emerge from the building, all of them looking grim.
“Grandfather!” I called out. “I need to tell you something. I need to talk to you in private!”
Grandfather detached himself from the small knot of Senators he was with and came over to me. He stroked my hair as he often did. “What is it Gillimas?” he asked.
I took his hand and pulled him away from the crowd, far enough so that no one could hear my whispered words. “Auntie Matessa is dead. Simabal said that a mob came to the house and attacked her because she was the sister of Phameas. They beat her and stabbed her.”
“Hasdrubal’s doing,” he said. “That man scruples at nothing. I’m in danger too.”
“Then shouldn’t we find someplace to hide?” I asked.
“No point in it, my boy,” said Grandfather. “If Hasdrubal doesn’t kill me the Romans will soon enough. I’ve said my piece in the Senate. Hasdrubal refuses to surrender the city to the Romans and he has all the soldiers, so what can we do? He has guaranteed our annihilation. I see no reason to hide just to prolong my life by a few days.
We headed back toward Megara. We had not gone far when a band of armed men emerged from between two buildings and came toward us. “Gillimas, run!” shouted Grandfather. I ran into the space between two buildings but no one pursued me. The few passers-by fled, no one wanted to be a witness to this assassination. I watched from a distance as they beat Grandfather to death. He did not resist and made no sounds. The operation took about the length of time it would take to walk around a building, then the thugs went on their way. They did not give me a second glance. When they were gone I walked over to my grandfather’s prostrate body, and began to keen and wail. No crowd gathered. Any passers-by kept their distance. I did not care that I was doing what was generally expected of a woman. I kept on keening and wailing until I was exhausted. My voice had not yet changed and I must have sounded like a woman. I eventually fell silent from exhaustion. Finally I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Uncle Hanno.
Uncle Hanno took me by the hand and led me to the Megara. He led me to his mansion, now devoid of people other than himself. He sat me down at his table and served me some pickled fish and poured me some wine. He served himself likewise.
“I’m not used to drinking wine,” I said.
“All the better,” said Uncle Hanno. “It will have more of the desired effect.”
“What’s the desired effect?” I asked.
“It dulls pain,” said Uncle Hanno. “You need that. You’re in a lot of pain.”
“Matessa is dead,” I said, “and Grandfather is dead. You are in danger, Uncle Hanno. Won’t Hasdrubal kill you?”
“I am in no danger from Hasdrubal,” said Uncle Hanno. “My fate was prophesied at the time of my birth. I will die in the fires that consume Carthage.”
“Who could make such a prophesy?” I asked.
“Indibal the priest of Tanit and Baal-Hammon,” he said, “he sought to have me sacrificed to the Gods so that the burning of Carthage wouldn’t happen, but my father spirited us off to Tarraco which was held by the Romans. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the descendants of your Great-grandfather Gisco never pay homage to the god Baal Hammon, nor to the goddess Tanit.”
This was more than I could absorb, but now, thankfully, the wine had begun to take effect. Uncle Hanno took me in his arms and held me until I fell asleep.
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Robin Levin

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Thank you for inviting me to this community. I am an avid reader of historical history of all eras and I write about the Punic Wars and the Roman Middle Republic. I have a website at http://www.thedeathofcarthage.com where I blog reviews of historical fiction books. I am presently reading Helena Shrader's wonderful book Leonidas of Sparta, a Boy of the Agoge, and plan to blog a review of it when I'm done. I am looking forward to reading other works from members of this community.
The Death of Carthage is an historical novel about the second and third Punic wars. By Author Robin E. Levin, Robin Levin
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Hi Patricia,
Thanks you. I may post some excerpts.
Robin
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Looks, good. Love the music. I'll read it and do a review on Amazon.
Robin
 
My publisher for Norah went out of business, but the good news is that I have a new publisher. Fireship Press is re-releasing Norah: The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th-Century New York February 1st with a new cover. Thank you for all your comments! Norah will be available through worldwide distribution, as well. sales@fireshippress.com(www.fireshippress.com)
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Robin Levin

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This is my review of Watchmen of Rome, a novel by Alex Gough: 
Watchmen of Rome takes the reader to the mean streets of Ancient Rome during the reign of Tiberius. Elissa is a priestess of the Carthaginian deities Baal-Hammon and Tanit, having received training from her mother, religious lore passed down in secret since the destruction of Carthage some 180 years before. She has a plan to destroy Rome to avenge Carthage, and she requires a human sacrifice to secure the co-operation of the gods. She has chosen Fabilla, the red haired child of her red haired slave Rufa. She has a small but devoted cult following and has gathered enough incendiary material to destroy all of Rome. She plans to strike on the last day of the games, when the Urban Cohorts will all be engaged in crowd control.
Carbo is a veteran of the Roman legions, newly returned to Rome from long service. He was prior pilis of his legion and supremely adept in martial skills. Upon returning to Rome he goes to his mother’s home in the lower class district of Subura, only to find that his mother has died months before. He wanders into a tavern. The tavern owner, Publius, has two slaves, Marsia and Philon, who help him run the tavern. Publius, however, is prey to a protection racket run by one Manius and his sons Cilo and Balbus.  Cilo come into the tavern demanding an outrageous extortion and demanding to bed Marsia, who normally does not bestow such favors except on her master. Carbo intercedes and kicks Cilo out.  He then purchases the tavern along with the slaves with money he has accumulated from his long stint in the legions. It is not long before Manius and Cilo return to re-establish their patron-client relationship and extort money. Once again Carbo fends them off, this time assisted by Lucius Vedius Vespillo, tribune of the Vigiles, and his men. The Vigiles are an organization founded by Augustus for the purpose of maintaining fire safety and putting out fires. They are the lowest rung of the Roman military/police system. Vespillo has been in the legions and he and Carbo had quickly become friends.
Rufa, in the meantime has overheard the plans that her mistress Elissa has made for the sacrifice of her daughter Fabilla as a burnt offering to the gods, and she decides to take her daughter and run away. Another slave has told her about Carbo, and she remembers him as a friend of her father who was also in the legions. Before he died, her father made Carbo promise to look after Rufa is she was ever in difficulty. She flees with her daughter to the protection of Carbo, who reluctantly takes her in. Elissa believes that the sacrifice of Fabilla is crucial to her plan to destroy Rome, and will go to any lengths to get the child back.
Watchmen of Rome is a fast paced, exciting novel which reveals a multitude of details about daily life in Ancient Rome, centered, for once, in the realm of the lower classes rather than the wealthy. The novel offers everything you might want in a work of historical fiction.
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Book Review or Queen Elizabeth's Daughter by Ann Clinart Barnhill.
Ann Clinard Barnhill’s historical novel provides the reader with an intimate glimpse of Queen Elizabeth the first’s court and its daily life. Mary Shelton was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth on her mother’s side, her grandfather having married into the Boleyn family. When Mary is orphaned at an early age, she becomes a ward of the Queen. She is brought into the royal household and educated with the other wards. She ultimately becomes one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting. Technically this is a servile position with mundane duties such as seeing to the Queen’s wardrobe and dressing her hair, but a women in such close proximity and favor of the Queen could eventually acquire a lot of worldly power.
As a child Mary is dearly loved by Queen Elizabeth who bestows a maternal tenderness and affection on her, and even has her sleep in her chamber. She is as close to a daughter as Elizabeth, always loathe to marry, will ever have. Elizabeth’s favorite man is Robert Dudley, whom she calls her Sweet Robin, and she, Robin and Mary make up a de facto family. Robert Dudley’s rank is not high enough to permit him to marry the queen and, although they are a devoted couple, he ultimately turns his attentions to other women, something that sorely vexes Elizabeth.
Times are troubled in Elizabeth’s realm. Mary Queen of Scots has been dethroned and exiled and has taken refuge in England, but she is a magnet for rebellious Catholics who wish to restore Catholicism as the religion of the land, and place Mary on the throne of England. Plots are uncovered and she and her proposed fiancé, Lord Norfolk are arrested. Although her advisors recommend it, Queen Elizabeth is reluctant to execute them, especially an anointed queen. The Pope has ex-communicated Elizabeth and has issued a bull stating that English Catholics should not obey her or acknowledge her as their Ruler. Both France and Spain threaten to invade and take back England for the Church.
Mary has blossomed into a beautiful women and various courtiers take an interest in her. Among them are Edward De Veere, the 7th Earl of Oxford, and one of the Queen’s favorites. Oxford, however, is well known to be a rake and a lecher, seducing and abandoning women, both base born and well born, and Mary has no wish to receive his attentions. Her reluctance causes him to pursue his suit all the more avidly. Mary’s own inclinations lead her to fancy John Skydemore, a country squire, widower with five children, who is studying law at the Inns of Court. Queen Elizabeth is dead set against any such alliance, saying that the decision of who Mary is to marry is strictly up to her Queen and that she, herself, will make a suitable match for Mary in time. The matter is also complicated by the fact that Skydemore is Catholic.
Mary must make a decision as to whether to obey her Queen or to follow her heart. She knows that the latter course could cost her position and even her life.
Queen Elizabeth’s daughter is a rich tapestry and a vivid window into one of the most interesting periods of English history.
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Robin Levin

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I have been an avid reader of historical fiction for fifty years, and I have never encountered a work as exciting, fascinating, satisfying and well-researched as Helena Shrader’s trilogy about Leonidas of Sparta.
In this third book of the series Shrader portrays Leonidas in his mature years, his marriage to his niece Gorgo, his travels to Athens and other places and his rise to become one of the two Kings of Sparta. She recounts the events of the ill-omened Persian embassy to Sparta, in which the Persian ambassadors demand that the Spartan give them earth and water as a sign of submission. The Spartans respond by throwing the Ambassadors in a deep well, telling them that they will find all the earth and water they need there.  The Spartans realize that they have offended the gods by this act and a few years later they sent two volunteers to the Persian King Xerxes to expiate the deed with their lives. Xerxes rejects the offering, warning that the Spartan debt to him remains unpaid.
Xerxes plans a massive invasion of Greece with one million troops. The fate of Western civilization hangs in the balance. The Athenians, under Themistocles, have built a fleet of triremes to counter the Persian fleet, but it is up to King Leonidas, his bodyguard of 300 Spartans, and 6000 allied troops to hold the narrow pass at Thermopylae so that the rest of the Spartans and their allies can mobilize. The prophesy from Delphi states that in the coming conflict Sparta will either mourn one of its Kings, or the city will be destroyed.
After a day of battle a herald is sent from the Persian King to Leonidas: “The Great King Xerxes, son of Darius, offers to King Leonidas, son of Anaxandridas , of Sparta the following: If he gives up this pointless resistance against the forces of Civilization and the true God Ahuramazda, if he takes the hand outstretched in friendship by his most gracious Majesty, the merciful and generous Great King, if he puts his arms in the service of His Magnificence, the Joy of Ahuramazda, joining the invincible multitude of a thousand nations, then Xerxes, King of Kings, will make Leonidas, son of Anaxandridas, Kng of all Greece.”
Who would reject an offer like that?
Leonidas’ reply: “Tell your master that if he understood honor, he would not lust after what does not belong to him. I, Leonidas of Sparta, would rather die for the freedom of Greece than rule it in subjugation!”
The Spartans and their allies successfully held the pass for two days, but a Phocian traitor revealed a goat track to the Persians, over which the Immortals, an elite Persian unit, could cross and attack the Greeks on their unprotected flank. When it became clear that their cause was lost, Leonidas sent the bulk of the allies away, determined to hold the pass long enough to allow them to escape.
The Persian King sent another herald: “The Great King offers you your naked lives, if you surrender your arms.”
Leonidas replied: “Come and take them!”
In the ensuing battle Leonidas and all but one of his remaining men are slain. After Leonidas falls his compatriots try desperately to shield his body, but in the end Xerxes obtains it and mounts Leonidas’ head on a stake.
Leonidas’ sacrifice is not in vain, however. It buys the Greeks time and ultimately the Persians are defeated on land by Leonidas’ nephew Pausanias, and at sea by the Athenian Themistocles.
Shrader has a gift for making her characters vivid and human, and she is a consummate story-teller. She ranks high in my pantheon of great historical fiction authors.
 
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Indeed! Thank you, Robin!
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I have finished reading Helena Shrader's fine historical novel Leonidas of Sparta, Boy of the Agoge. I am posting this review of it here for fellow Discover New Historical Fiction readers:
Ancient Sparta, with its extreme social institutions, has fascinated both observers from other Greek city states and students of history for centuries. The problem with writing historical fiction about ancient Sparta is that the Spartans left virtually no written record. While, as Helena P. Schrader points out, they were not illiterate, they produced no historians and everything we have gleaned about Spartan society and social practices has been written by outsiders. Even the archeological evidence about Spartan life is sparse.
Given this situation, Helena P. Shrader has done a masterful job of piecing together the evidence about Spartan society in general and the institution of the agoge in particular to form a compelling and coherent narrative.
Sparta was unique among Greek city states in having public education for both boys and girls, girls to age 14 and boys to age 19. The educational system was called the agoge. Spartan boys left home at seven and lived in barracks with their age mates, under the supervision of an eirene, a twenty-year-old graduate of the agoge.
Leonidas was born in one of the two royal families of Sparta, the Agiads.  The Agiad King, Anaxandridas was married to Taygete, but she remained barren for so many years that the ephors prevailed upon him to take a second wife, Chilonis, who soon provided him with an heir, Cleomenes. Taygete then became pregnant and provided him with a son, Doreius, and years later gave birth to twin sons Cleombrotus and Leonidas. Much to Taygete’s dismay, Cleomenes, the son of the second wife was declared the heir to the kingship when Anaxandridas died.
 As royal prince, Cleomenes was exempt from training at the agoge, but his half-brothers were not, and Leonidas and his twin brother Cleombrotus started the agoge at age seven.  Shrader traces Leonidas’ experience at each level of his agoge training. The boys were issued one chiton and one himation per year and went about with their heads shaven and barefoot. The younger boys were assigned to serve the adult citizens in the communal mess halls known as the syssitia. They were required to call every male citizen “father.” Any citizen might interrogate them to determine if they knew what they were supposed to know about Spartan laws and customs, and they would be humiliated if they did not answer these queries correctly. The curriculum of the Agoge included reading, writing, singing and dancing, various sports, Spartan laws, history and traditions, and the skills of hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging that would enable an individual to survive on his own if he found himself isolated in enemy territory. Stealing was encouraged but boys would be punished by flogging if they got caught. At age 13 boys were expected to survive on their own in the countryside for ten days and at age 14 for forty days.
Once the boys became youths they were taught the arts of war, with constant drilling and practice with weapons.
Shrader humanizes Leonidas and his friends and her book reads as a fast paced story with a number of exciting adventures and misadventures.  I was quickly drawn into the story and every page made me want to read more. I am looking forward to reading her other two books about Leonidas.
This review has also been posted on Amazon and on my website at http://www.thedeathofcarthage.com
 
 
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You're welcome Helena. I've always been a bit fascinated by the Spartans and the Greeks in general and your book really made them come to life!
Robin
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Great trailer! Looking forward to reading the book!
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I have started a new work in progress about the destruction of Carthage by the Romans in 146 BCE. It will be titled The Last Carthaginian, and it is the memoir of 82 year old Gillimas seventy years after the siege of Carthage. He believes himself to be the last surviving Carthaginian. In this excerpt he is dealing with the loss of relatives due to plague during the siege:
Hunger made the population susceptible to plague, and plague came in wave after wave. There were childhood illnesses that would not normally kill a well-nourished child, but were devastating to the starving. I had already had the commons illnesses, but they struck Hanno and the two youngest of Matessa’s children, and despite the best efforts of Matessa and Simabal, all three succumbed. Mago was beside himself with the loss of Hanno. No longer having a companion for his games and mischief, he focused his attention on me, much to my chagrin. He followed me around, demanding my attention.
“Gillimas, play with me,” he demanded.
“I’m too old to play,” I told him. “Grandfather says I have to work.”
“But you’re not working now,” he said.
“Grandfather’s waiting for me,” I said. “I have to go with him.”
“You’re no fun. I want Hanno! I want Hanno!” Then he started to cry. This aroused my pity and I tried to put my arm around him but he yelled “go away, I don’t like you. I want Hanno, I want Hanno!”
I had always thought of Mago as a pest, but it was hard to see him like this. There was nothing I could say to him that he would understand or that would give him consolation. Finally I said “Grandfather has a meeting with the Senate tomorrow so I won’t be going with him. You can come with me and we’ll fish in the stream.”
He sniffed. “But I want Hanno.”
“Yes, I know, Mago. We’ll pretend that Hanno is with us.” To my surprise he accepted my offer.
“You promise?”
“Yes, I promise.”
The next day we did go fishing. Mago didn’t catch anything and he got bored. I caught two small fish that in ordinary times I would have thrown back, but since it was a time of famine, and Matessa could add them to our stew, I took them home with us. On our way back Mago asked “Gillimas, why did Hanno die?”
“I don’t know, Mago,” I replied.
“Am I going to die?” he asked.
“Someday you will,” I said. “Sooner or later everybody dies.”
“When I die, will I be with Hanno?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Aristobolos said that the Greeks believe there’s a place called Hades where you go when you die. Maybe Hanno will be there.”
“Why does Grandfather like you more than me?” Mago asked.
“I don’t think he likes me more than you, Mago,” I said. “It’s just that I’m older and I know how to behave and I mind him. You are always doing things that annoy him. When you get older and stop making so much noise and stop getting into so much mischief, he’ll treat you better.”
For my published works check out http://www.thedeathofcarthage.com
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Robin Levin

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I have a number of historical fiction writers in my Face Book circle. Is there a way to share this on Face Book?
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That will be my next port of call.
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