Those that have been enjoying The Wandering King series will be happy to hear that I’ve started work on book 3. I used the year’s hiatus to work on a contemporary novel. After spending 5 years immersed in the ancient world, I needed to spend some time writing about today’s world.
The subtitle for book 3 hasn’t been selected yet. If you’d like to weigh in on the subtitle or suggest one of your own, feel free to do so in the comments section. Here are a couple that I’m mulling over…
- Glorious Fall the Valiant
- Black Hulled Ships
- Perils of War
- Land of Brave Men
- The Sworn Band
- Victory or Death
The lines “glorious fall the valiant” and “land of brave men,” come from the Spartan poet Tyrtaeus. “Black hulled ships,” comes from Homer. The “perils of war” comes from Thucydides. “Sworn band” is a translation of the Spartan smallest military unit, the enomotia. A variation for the subtitle could be “Sworn Band Leader,” which was an enomotarch, which is comparable to the modern title of lieutenant.
Where Book 3 is Going
In book 1, Summer, Harvest, War, you journeyed with Euryanax south to Libya and north to Corinth and Delphi. In book 2, With This Shield, you followed him west to Italy and Sicily.
In book 3, you’ll venture east with our hero to Thrace, Scythia and Asia Minor (modern Turkey) where he’ll take part in a 6-year struggle called the Ionian Revolt. Though not written about in any novels that I’m aware of, the Ionian Revolt is covered in Herodotus. It was a revolt by the Greek cities in Asia Minor against the High King Darius of Persia, and is seen as the precursor to the more famous Persian War.
Before Eury goes east, he has some unfinished business to take care of at home in Sparta. When we last left him, he was marching away from Athens with the Spartan army after they had just ousted the Athenian tyrant Hippias. His uncle Leonidas had put him in charge of a handful of young Athenian boys, who we are told are hostages, but King Cleomenes wants to disguise this fact by having Eury train them in the agoge.
Book 3 opens with us learning that Eury has been given the responsibility of training a group of young boys from all over Hellas. Cleomenes has expanded upon his original idea, and offered to teach the sons of his allies in Boeotia, Arcadia and Macedon the Spartan way of war. Like many of the innovative things Cleomenes did in history, this is not a popular idea among his fellow, conservative Spartans.
Among Eury’s students are some young, historical personages, such as Alexandros son of King Amnytas (Alexander the Great’s great-great-great grandfather), Alcibiades of the Alcaemonids (grandfather of his famous namesake), and Leontiades, the future Theban commander at the Battle of Thermopylae. Several others are based on minor characters mentioned by Herodotus in The Histories, some of whom, like Attaginus, end up allied with the Persians during the Persian War.
Eury’s cousin and chief rival and antagonist, Pausanias, is also training a ‘herd’ of boys, the salamanders. As they have a 8-year head start on Eury’s ‘turtles,’ Pausanias’ salamanders are a lean, mean pack of wolves, whose main goal in life is to kill Eury’s charges, of which they’ve already done away with one at the start of the story.
How Eury manages to help the turtles survive the agoge and one of Sparta’s most brutal rites of passage, the Festival of Artemis Orthia, make up the first four chapters of book 3, which I am working on now.
Diversion to Athens
If you’ll recall from book 2, after the Spartans overthrew the Athenian tyrant Hippias they left one of their puppets, a rich nobleman named Isagoras in charge. Isagoras promptly exiled ‘the father of democracy’ Cleisthenes from Athens. If you’ve read Herodotus, you know that Cleisthenes eventually returns and “took the common people into his party” enabling him to oust Isagoras.
Although I admire the Spartans, one of the things that is not so admirable about them is their aversion to democracy. In defense of the Spartans, philosophers like Aristotle and Plato were not exactly keen on the Athenians version of ‘pure’ democracy either. Many during the age (particularly wealthy landowners) viewed it as ‘rule by the unwashed, uneducated rabble.’ Cleomenes attempted to interfere in Athenian politics, where he wanted to get rid of Cleisthenes and reinstate Isagoras.
As the Athenian democracy survived, you can probably guess that Cleomenes’ plans backfire on him. Once the Peloponnesian League and his co-King Demaratus learned what he was up to, they walked out on him. Cleomenes had cleverly planned to have Sparta, Thebes and Chalcis attack Athens from three sides, but once the Spartans left with Demaratus, the Athenians rallied and beat the Thebans and men of Chalcis in two separate battles.
What role will Eury play in all of this? You’ll see.
Reunited with Miltiades
Hopefully I’m not giving away too much of the story by saying Euryanax is forced to leave Sparta. When Eury does, he returns young Cimon to his father Miltiades, who as we learned at the end of book 2 was returning to the Thracian Chersonese to reclaim his lands there.
Why did I introduce Miltiades in book 2? Readers familiar with Greek history will recognize him as the key strategos of the Athenian forces at the famous Battle of Marathon. If there is a book 4 in the series, it’ll cover Marathon, where Miltiades has his historic day in the sun.
For purposes of book 3, Herodotus also records that Miltiades was involved in some adventures prior to Marathon. He captured the islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos in the Aegean Sea, taking them away from the Persian Empire. Miltiades also has a part to play in …
The Ionian Revolt
The last thing I’ll say about book 3 is that the same way that Eury was reunited with Theokles during the Battle at Phalerum in book 2, his friend will reappear in time for the Ionian Revolt’s famous Battle of Lade. There will be some surprises regarding Theo and his mistress Stesilaus, so I’ll close here before I give anyway any spoilers.
The important thing to know is that book 3 is begun and I am excited to be working on it. Don’t want to promise a completion date as that just adds the pressure of a deadline. Will only say that it took three years to write book 1 and two years to complete book 2. It’ll take a few years to deliver the story to you, but for me, this is the fun part. Just like you, I’m curious to see what happens next to our hero, Euryanax.