Table of Contents
Nicomedes leaned forward. ‘What are the odds?’ he asked.
Kineas gave the man a thin smile. ‘Ask me tomorrow. Ask me after I lay eyes on his vanguard. Right now, we’re all starting at shadows. My stomach is flipping like a flute girl in the last hour of a symposium, and every time I glance at the rising moon I think of ten more things I ought to have done.’ He hoped it was the time for such frankness. ‘If Zopryon will cooperate by coming here and camping across the river and offering the battle we’ve prepared for all summer - then, with the aid of the gods, I would say we were worth a sizeable bet.’ He shrugged, thinking again that the Great Bend was
the site of his dream battle.
Eumenes’ eyes brimmed with pain and hero worship. ‘You will beat them,’ he said.
‘From your lips to the ears of the gods,’ Kineas replied, flinching from Eumenes’ obvious passion. He poured wine from his cup as a libation, and his hand shook, and the wine flowed over his hand like dark blood.
Christian Cameron is a writer and military historian. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, where he served as both an aviator and an intelligence officer. He has written eight espionage novels with his father, Kenneth Cameron, and one historical novel on his own,
Washington and Caesar
. He is currently writing the second of the Kineas novels at his home in Toronto, while working on a PhD in Classics. Visit his website at
An Orion ebook
An Orion paperback
First published in Great Britain in 2008
This paperback edition published in 2009
by Orion Books Ltd,
Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin’s Lane
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For my mother
(Avestan) Noble, heroic.
(Siberian) Shaman, mage, dream-shaper.
(Classical Greek) Spirit.
(Classical Greek) The chosen men of the city or of the
; elite soldiers.
(Classical Greek) Well-being. Literally, ‘well-spirited’. See
(Classical Greek) A Greek holiday.
(Classical Greek and possibly Scythian) The open-topped quiver carried by the Scythians, often highly decorated.
(Classical Greek) The commander of the cavalry.
(Classical Greek) Militarily, the cavalry of a Greek army. Generally, the cavalry class, synonymous with knights. Usually the richest men in a city.
(Classical Greek) A Greek soldier, the heavy infantry who carry an
(the big round shield) and fight in the
. They represent the middle class of free men in most cities, and while sometimes they seem like medieval knights in their outlook, they are also like town militia, and made up of craftsmen and small farmers. In the early Classical period, a man with as little as twelve acres under cultivation could be expected to own the aspis and serve as a hoplite.
(Classical Greek) The
s trumpeter, servant, or supporter. Perhaps a sort of NCO.
(Classical Greek) A bent-bladed knife or sword, rather like a modern Ghurka knife. They appear commonly in Greek art, and even some small eating knives were apparently made to this pattern.
(Classical Greek) The heavy Greek cavalry sword, longer and stronger than the short infantry sword. Meant to give a longer reach on horseback, and not useful in the
. The word could also be used for a knife.
Classical Greek from Persian) About 30
(Classical Greek) Literally, those who carry a small, light shield (LSJ). An intermediate class of warriors between the
. Sometimes lightly armoured or wearing helmets or carrying shields.
(Classical Greek) The infantry formation used by Greek hoplites in warfare, eight to ten deep and as wide as circumstance allowed. Greek commanders experimented with deeper and shallower formations, but the
was solid and very difficult to break, presenting the enemy with a veritable wall of spear points and shields, whether the Macedonian style with pikes or the Greek style with spears. Also,
can refer to the body of fighting men. A Macedonian
was deeper, with longer spears called
, which we assume to be like the pikes used in more recnt times.
(Classical Greek) About one foot.
Classical Greek) Bare, naked men (Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect, 1924). Light infantry skirmishers, usually men with no armour and minimal weapons, slings or perhaps javelins, or even rocks. In Greek city-state warfare, the
were supplied by the poorest men, retainers, or even slaves.
(Avestan) Tyrannical. A tyrant.
(Classical Greek) 178 metres, about 1/8 of a mile. The distance run in a stadium. Sometimes written as Stadia or Stades in the
(Classical Greek) The sections of a Macedonian phalanx. Can refer to any group, but often used as a company or a battalion. The Macedonian
novels has between fifteen hundred and two thousand men, depending on losses and detachments. Roughly synonymous with
(Classical Greek) A breastplate or corselet. (Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect, 1924).
(Classical Greek) Archers. In Greek warfare, usually trained men from the lower classes with a bow. Athens had a corps of them. Also, in some sources, horse archers or Scythians, who were also sometimes called
(Classical Greek) A straight-bladed infantry sword, usually carried by hoplites or psiloi. Classical Greek art, especially red-figure ware, shows many hoplites wearing them, but only a handful have been recovered and there is much debate about them.
333 B C
he sky above the dust was blue. In the distance, far out over the plain, mountains rose in purple and lavender, the most distant capped red by the setting sun. Up there, in the aether, all was peace. An eagle, best of omens, turned a lazy circle to his right. Closer, less auspicious birds circled.
Kineas felt that as long as he kept his attention on the realms of the heavens, he would be safe from his fear. The gods had always spoken to him - awake, in omens, and asleep, in rich dreams. He needed the gods today.
Noise and motion to his right distracted him and his eyes flicked down from the safety of the empty spaces to the banks of the Pinarus River, the flat plain, the scrub, the beach, the sea. And directly in front of him, separated only by the width of the river, waited thirty thousand Persian horsemen, their files so thick that they had raised a sand cloud, so deep that their rear ranks were visible over the cloud on the lower slopes of a distant hill across the Pinarus. His stomach clenched and rolled. He farted and grimaced in embarrassment.
, gave a grunt that might have been a laugh. ‘Look out, Kineas,’ he said, pointing to the right. ‘It’s the boss.’
Horsemen, a troop of twenty or so, their cloaks flashing with gold ornament, their chargers heavy and magnificent, cantered along the plain toward the edge of the beach where the Allied Cavalry waited for their doom.
Only one was bareheaded, his blond curls as bright as the gold gorgon’s head that pinned his purple cloak, his horse covered in a leopard’s skin. He led them across the hard-packed sand to the General of the Left, Parmenio, just half a stade away. Parmenio shook his head and gestured at the hordes of Persian cavalry, and the blond curls shook with laughter. The blond shouted something lost on the wind and the Thessalians in Parmenio’s bodyguard roared and shouted his name -
And then he cantered back along the beach until he reached the Allied Cavalry, six hundred horsemen all alone to the front of the left wing.