Smile of the Wolf: Tim Leach

★★★★

I was absolutely thrilled when I was offered a review copy of Tim Leach’s new novel. His first two books told the story of the Lydian king Croesus, a lyrical tale of a man who falls from majesty to slavery, and learns to live again, drawn from the Histories of Herodotus. This third book takes a new direction, unfolding among the icy crags and rolling valleys of 10th-century Iceland. It’s a tale of revenge; blood; vindictiveness; loyalty; and honour; but, more than anything else, it’s a story of friendship. This is the tale of the farmer Gunnar and the poet Kjaran, recounted with the tragic grandeur and poetic cadence of the great sagas, prickling with ice and flame.

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The King and the Slave: Tim Leach

½

When I finished Tim Leach’s debut novel, The Last King of Lydia, I was deeply impressed by the way he’d transformed a story from Herodotus into an elegant and beautifully-written meditation on fortune and happiness. Little did I guess that I’d have the pleasure of reading another of his books so soon (and a sequel no less!), returning to the sumptuous might of the Persian empire in the 6th century BC.

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The Last King of Lydia: Tim Leach

★★★★

It is just before dawn one morning in 547 BC. The Lydian king Croesus is taken from a cell in his capital, Sardis, and led to a great wooden pyre where he is to be burned to death in the presence of his conqueror, the Persian king Cyrus. As the smoke begins to curl around him and the fire’s first heat warms the soles of his feet, Croesus remembers a conversation he had, many years before, with the Athenian statesman Solon. They had argued about happiness.

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