Reviewed by David Maclaine
King of the Bosporus, fourth in Cameron's "Tyrant" series, could just as easily have been titled Return of the King, but perhaps after poaching the title of number three, Funeral Games, from Mary Renault, he reached the limit of his audacity and decided not to stretch his luck borrowing from Tolkein. The novel actually features two young heirs vying to retake their lost realm on the north shore of the Black Sea, and Return of the King (and Queen) would have sounded a tad clunky. But that is the story in a nutshell. The two youths, having survived the perils of their early and mid-teens, are now ready to fight for their domain and wreak revenge on their parents' slayers. The first assault by sea meets with defeat, and they must plan a more elaborate second try. The sister risks landing in hostile territory in hopes of rallying her Sahk supporters, while her brother awaits a rendezvous of ships with his troops. Will the pair meet up in time to thwart the brutal ploys of their enemies? If the conventions of the adventure novel suggest they will, the perils they face remain suspenseful.
Cameron offers us a full cast of characters, whose names can be a challenge to sort out. Some will face dire fates as the battles mount and the plot approaches its climax. The portrayals of the various cultures are convincing, and thrilling action scenes reflect keen insight into the arms and tactics of ancient warfare. A reader pleased by King of the Bosporus can take heart from Cameron's afterword, which assures us the story of the twins has not ended. The protagonists are still young, and many rich stories of the age when Alexander's successors battled one another for the spoils of his conquest are still waiting to be told. The next stop, the author says, will include the great siege of Rhodes by their old adversary Demetrius. (2011, 416 pages)More about King of the Bosporus at Powell's Books or Amazon.com