Destroyer of Cities

by Christian Cameron

Reviewed by David Maclaine

Destroyer of Cities takes the Tyrant series into the heart of the political and military struggle that followed the death of Alexander the Great. The tale begins in the loosely joined kingdoms to the north of the Black Sea, ruled by a pair of twins: Satyrus is king of the coastal farming lands dominated by Greek cities, while his sister Melitta rules the nomadic horse people of the steppes. Both soon depart. Melitta leads a long war-raid east. Satyrus leaves with his fleet, seeking to ship his grain harvest through a suddenly perilous Aegean Sea, a mission which quickly becomes complicated. A raid on a pirate base, a daring passage over open sea, fierce sea battles and more than one deadly storm take their toll, and land the young King of the Bosporus in the middle of a crucial battle that will go far to determine whether two newly proclaimed kings, Antigonus One-Eye and his handsome golden-haired son Demetrius, can succeed in their attempt to reunite Alexander’s empire at the expense of assorted other claimants. All Demetrius needs is to capture the strategic city of Rhodes, which sits at a crucial crossroad in the islands, and to accomplish that end he has amassed what seems like an overwhelming fleet and army. But inside the city, Satyrus holds out hope that the city can hold off the besiegers and avoid the mass slaughter and enslavement the attacker has promised upon its capture.

Fans of Cameron’s novels are familiar with his unsparing approach to the high cost of war, and will be unsurprised, though still deeply moved, when well-liked characters begin to die. As we watch this fiercely fought contest play out to a bitter end, we soon realize that in Destroyer of Cities the author has added a new classic in the select genre of sieges portrayed from the viewpoint of the besieged. (2013, 528 pages)

More about Destroyer of Cities at Powell's Books or

Other novels about the struggles for power after Alexander's death:

Besieger of Cities by Alfred Duggan (1963; also titled Elephants and Castles), about Demetrius I of Macedon, one of Alexander the Great's successors. See review or more info at Powell's Books

Funeral Games by Mary Renault (1981), about the fracturing of Alexander's empire after his death as his generals and relatives vie for power. See review or more info at Powell's Books

Stealing Fire by Jo Graham (2010), historical fantasy about Lydias of Miletus, who follows Ptolemy to Egypt after Alexander's death. More info

Nonfiction about ancient Rhodes:

Rhodes in the Hellenistic Age by Richard M. Berthold (1984). More info

Rhodes in Ancient Times by Cecil Torr (1885). More info

The Naval Aristocracy of Hellenistic Rhodes by Vincent Gabrielsen (1997). More info


Plutarch's Life of Demetrius in English translation at the University of Chicago website

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