By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) By Christian Kachel

    I was sent a message by the author asking if I would be willing to review his work based on my interest in Historical fiction, specifically based on the Conn Iggulden Empire Series. I was told that if I liked this series I would thoroughly enjoy Mr. Kachel's book as well.

    Per his promise, I was not disappointed in the story whatsoever. While this was not an action packed suspense thriller, the characters are built so well that you actually began to think of them as friends of your own. There is a lot of politics and intrigued that pulled me into the time period and made me feel like I was there along the journey...I hope there are others in this series because the end left me believe that there would be.

    In my opinion this is a very similar story, told in post Alexander era, of the maturation of a young man from boyhood to manhood and his journey throughout the process. Things like family become more important and childlike devices become things of the past.

    I have 3 things that I did not care for about this book:

    1 - Character names. When looking at new authors/stories I always read the back or front flap to see who/what the book is about. Typically if I cannot pronounce the name of the lead character, I put the book back on the shelf. I have passed over many books that received great reviews because I knew that I did not know how to pronounce the name.

    I know this might seem trivial but I would suggest to any author working on novels from different eras to put the pronunciations of all characters in either the front or the back of the book.

    In this particular piece, I dubbed Andrikos' friend Pat because I could not pronounce his name...and stopped trying to do so.

    2 - The language and verbiage used was too modern for this period piece; specifically when the officers were berating the recruits. As I am sure Mr. Kachel went through this process with the US Military and curse words and other forms of degrading terms were used, these are not the same phrases used before the common era.

    3 - When reading through the book, some passages/chapters seemed to be written at different times as the flow and word choices were completely different. According to Mr. Kachel's bio this book took a few years to finish and unfortunately parts of the story felt piece mailed together.

    Would I recommend this to a friend, absolutely. I will also consider any further works that Mr. Kachel writes as a viable read. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) Set in the wake of Alexander the Great's death, By the Sword follows a young man named Andrikos as he joins the army during the heavy fighting between Alexander's would-be successors. Knowledge about the era you're writing about is half the battle in historical fiction, and the author has clearly done his research. Unfortunately, it seems the only way he could find to convey all that knowledge is by having various characters hold interminable lectures on the historical circumstances they find themselves in, which leads to stilted and unnatural sounding dialogue. He also has a bad habit of employing wrong homophones, incorrect word forms, and more - seriously, didn't anyone proofread this before publication? All this proved very distracting, but even so, the pace dragged in places and the book couldn't really keep my attention despite its fascinating setting. And while I don't mind graphic violence when it's needed to advance the plot, this was a mite heavy on the gratuitous torture and butchery. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) This is probably one of the more original books I have read in awhile. It is set in a time not long after Alexander the Great dies. He names his heirs, but his Macedonian generals have other ideas, each out for themselves. Of course this starts a civil war in his short lived Empire.

    This story is told from the viewpoint of a unlikely protagonist named Andrikos. He is a young man, who's life seems to be drifting. He is a man with low self confidence, who has trouble looking people he feels are better then him in the eye, is friends with guys like himself who are destined to become criminals, and looks up to a kingpin of crime of sorts.

    Andrikos yearns for a strong male role model, and this plays a large role throughout the book. Eventually he joins the army, where the author shows are ridiculously hard the training is in those times. By a stroke of luck he meets Vettis, a spymaster for that faction's General. Vettis is part of an spy ring whose goal is to see the successors of Alexander inherit the empire.

    A large part of the book is about Andrikos learning how to fight and spy, and in the process learning to be a confident man. He is really down on himself in the majority of the book, and you can really see how he grows.

    The only real negative I could find was some of the dialogue. A lot of times the characters over explained their actions or what not. But maybe that's how they talked back then, so what do I know.

    The ending leaves you wanting more, and I can't wait for the next book. Thing's can only go up from here. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) `The afterlife puts the concept of time in perspective.'

    Handsome young new author Christian Kachel has gathered his expertise for this debut novel SPOILS OF OLYMPUS from both training and education (University of Maryland- College Park and three Master's degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the Department of Defense) and from his three terms of US Army service in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to writing he works as a Program Manager in the Defense industry. He has stated, `The Spoils of Olympus has been a 2 1/2 year project that began in a Marriott hotel room in San Antonio, Texas while attending pre deployment training for a tour in Afghanistan in late 2011. The wars of succession immediately following the death of Alexander the Great have always fascinated me despite being overshadowed in the history books by the life and times of Alexander himself. Many great novels have been written about ancient Greece and Alexander but few fictional works have explored this forgotten era in western civilization where Alexander's generals, who were once allies, battled each other for control of the largest empire on earth.'

    Book I of the Spoils of Olympus series introduces us to the story's protagonist, Andrikos. The book follows him from an adolescence of criminality and capriciousness to his forced enlistment in the wars of succession; taking him from the battlefields of Asia Minor to the Achaemenid palaces of the Persian Empire. Or as the author writes in his synopsis of the book, `322 B.C. The Macedonian Empire is on the verge of civil war following the sudden death of Alexander the Great. As a boy, Andrikos watched as Alexander's army marched through his homeland of Greek Ionia after defeating the Persians at the Granicus River on their way to the total conquest of the Persian Empire. Soon he will be embroiled in their world, forced to flee his old life due to an unintentional crime. Thrust into the army, Andrikos struggles to cope with the brutal yet necessary training which his superiors put him through to prepare for the coming wars of succession as Alexander's surviving generals seek to divide and conquer the spoils of Olympus. But Andrikos is not destined to be a nameless soldier; by chance he is chosen for a clandestine mission - and is immersed in a world of intrigue, violence and brotherhood. The path that lies ahead of Andrikos requires him to shed his immaturity and take on the responsibilities and emotions of a man beyond his years as he struggles to save Alexander's legacy from those who wish to usurp it, a epic which follows the advancements of one soldier from boy to man set during a time of global conflict.'

    One of the reasons this SPOILS OF OLYMPUS is such a powerful book is Christian's sense of the battlefield: few writers of historical novels have had that experience and the anxieties and hardships endured bathe this recreation of post Alexandrian Greece with a spirit of knowing the territory. Yes, Christian has done his research well, but the manner in which he relays the rise of Andrikos is from a very human stance. He is not afraid to introduce some of the more `avoided' topics of Alexander's time as his book begins, giving us a more clear picture of characters such as Patrochlus and Ganymede. This infusion of realism into the long neglected `myths' is but one of the aspects of Christian's book that elevates it to a level of importance. Wholly satisfying both as novel and as history, SPOILS OF OLYMPUS introduces and important new voice in contemporary literature.
    By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) An unusual era is tackled well by a new author in this engaging read. Set in an era about which I have some knowledge but am far from ‘knowledgeable’, this is a tale of the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great and the jostling for position of his varied successors, told from the point of view of a young recruit. Andrikos is forced to flee his small Anatolian town after a run in with some lowlifes leaves him in trouble, and he heads off to join the army and get away for a while.

    Cue the meat of the story, which is a military saga set amid battles, raids and individual ‘secret’ missions of which Andrikos finds himself part. For those of you who like your Historical Fiction strewn with battles and bodies, this is your kind of book. It is fairly graphic and brutal, but that is largely tempered by the fact that it is told from the point of view of the young recruit, with all his own problems, glories, cameraderie and excitement.

    I understand from his website that Kachel is ex-military, having served in the Middle East, and that comes as no surprise. Reading this book I would have guessed that the man writing the combat scenes had personal experience of same, and especially the harsh military training which occupies much of the first half of the book. The feeling of realism is strong and there is little hint of outlandishness about it.

    Indeed, the book does to some extent come over as a Macedonian/Hellenistic sort of ‘Heartbreak Ridge’. That’s not a complaint… I love that movie. But it is a fairly concise way of putting forward what I felt about the book. So, given what I’ve said, you’ve probably already decided whether you’re interested in it. I would certainly recommend it to readers of ancient military histfic readers. I will leave you with one up and one down about it:

    Kachel has clearly done a great deal of research into the era. His knowledge of the military, politics and social culture of the post-Alexandrian era comes through in the text. For me it was an informative as well as engaging read. As I say, I’m no expert on the era, but he comes across as very knowledgable, and I doubt most potential readers would find much to complain about in that respect.

    For me, Spoils of Olympus: By the Sword was a solid 4 star read. In terms of story and characterisation, it could well have been a 5. And although there were typos (‘route’ for ‘rout’) and incorrectly-chosen words (‘they accosted his background’) here and there, what knocked a star down for me was the inclusion of a certain type of modern phrasing that somewhat shatters the historical illusion (early on in the book, for instance, I came across the phrase ‘pussywhipped’ which was the worst of these that I read and stuck in my head all the way through.)

    So there you go. A relatively small negative against a swathe of positives. If the ancient military is your thing, I suspect you’ll enjoy this book. Give it a try. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1)

    322 B.C.

    The Macedonian Empire is on the verge of civil war following the sudden death of Alexander the Great.

    As a boy Andrikos watched as Alexander's army marched through his homeland of Greek Ionia after defeating the Persians at the Granicus River.

    Soon he will be embroiled in their world - and forced to flee his old life.

    Thrust into the army, Andrikos struggles to cope with the brutal training, as Alexander's surviving generals seek to divide and conquer the spoils of Olympus.

    But Andrikos is not destined to be a nameless soldier.

    By chance he is chosen for a clandestine mission - and is immersed in a world of intrigue, violence and brotherhood.

    The path that lies ahead of Andrikos requires him to shed his immaturity and take on the responsibilities and emotions of a man beyond his years.

    ‘The Spoils of Olympus: By the Sword’ is a historical epic which follows the advancements of one soldier from boy to man during a time of increasing political and military unrest for Greece and Macedonia.

    Christian Kachel lives in Washington D.C. ‘Spoils of Olympus: By the Sword’ is his first novel. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1)


    review ✓ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook Ñ Christian Kachel

    I originally reviewed this for the Historical Novel Review.

    It is 322 BC and the Macedonian Empire is reeling in the wake of Alexander’s death. Civil war looms as his generals and heirs position themselves to replace their God King – or tear off a piece of the empire for themselves.

    Andrikos, a young, fatherless man, faces troubles of his own. He is lured into the seedy underworld of his Ionian hometown, and in his first foray into criminal life he finds himself in far deeper waters than he ever expected. Worse, his family is at risk because of his actions. His only recourse is to join the army, leaving one set of dangers for the larger ones rocking the empire.

    After weeks of brutal training – and even worse self-recrimination – he catches the eye of an agent who is part of a secret brotherhood dedicated to the preservation of Alexander’s heirs and legacy. Though he is reluctant to leave his new mates, Andrikos is soon immersed in a clandestine world more secretive than the criminal world he fled and far more deadly than the life as a phalangite offers. And this time, his own contribution could affect the fate of the empire itself.

    In this debut novel, Kachel brings the reader on a gritty and powerful foray into Macedon’s conquered realm. It is thoroughly researched, and it has the undeniable authenticity of a soldier (Kachel) writing of a soldier’s life. Andrikos makes for a very sympathetic character, as a young man overwhelmed by his circumstances but eager to rise to the challenge. Recommended, but with a content warning: graphic violence, torture and sexual content. The formatting and cover were well done, and the scattered typos did little to kick this reviewer out of the story. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) I have read a lot of historical fiction over a lot of years. There might be times, as I trudge through it all, that I nearly forget why I read historical fiction in the first place. Especially in those stretches of time where I find myself reading so many more uninspiring books than I do fantastic ones.
    Historical Fiction has changed noticeably in the last five or six years. And there has been this danger of being bashed dumb by a pulp fiction tsunami containing sloppily written books haemorrhaging weak, passive-verb laden prose.

    I have often found myself wondering..where have all the potential Classics of the Ancient History sub genre of Hist Fic gone? The Gates of Fire and Pride of Carthage novels. The I, Claudius and The Warlord Chronicles (ie The Winter King) books. Are they still being written and discovered in 2015? Can publishers still find them in more than dribs and drabs? Can they even find an audience for them anymore when they do?
    Will there be room for thoughtful and intelligent historical fiction novels? Where the author takes the time to understand creative writing before he or she writes his/her story?

    I have found a few excellent authors who are harnessing word and story craft, but I am also always grimly watching the line to see what is coming down it. To see what the future of the Ancient History sub genre of historical fiction, will look like.
    Little did I expect to discover that future in an Independently Published novel that I nearly did not read nor know existed.
    Of all the places to find a budding author of the calibre that I speak of above....I find him in the world of Indie books. I can hardly believe it myself. Not to trash Indie books....I mean that I wouldn't expect to find this book Indie published because I would have thought a Trad publisher would have snapped him up!

    If he had not smooth talked me (Me! An expert in Indie and self pub SERE tactics because I get offered so many of them) and sent me his book in the mail, then I would have missed out on being exposed to this promising author's work.
    What a near miss it was.

    By the Sword is the first in a series (or was it a trilogy?? I forgot to ask, or forgot it if I was told) called Spoils of Olympus.
    It is set in Ancient Greece, 322BC, following the death of Alexander the Great.

    I could bang on and on about everything that happens, but you know that is not my style. I like you - the reader - to find out plots and storylines by reading the book or the book blurb yourself. I will only touch on a few things.
    The story heads out with your narrator, Andrikos, at that poignant moment in his life where he is young, impressionable, bored and running blindly into self destruction. Many of us have been there. Good kids at heart in our day, but with too big of a sense of adventure and with too many wild seeds to sow. The right guiding hand, the wrong kind of trouble, and we find ourselves keening for a way out of our own messes. Andrikos' way out, as with many teens throughout history, is to sign up for the Army.

    You may think now that you know this book. Without reading it, you have worked it all out. Boy joins army. Goes through Basic. Loses his virginity. Goes to war. There may be a love story triumvirate. Most commonly, two men and a woman. He has his first, second, third, taste of battle. Excels in leadership and combat. Is given his own band of brothers to lead. Comes home a changed man and a local hero..blah..blah..blah..
    You'd be wrong. But I don't blame you. I was wrong too. While some of those plot devices are in By The Sword, it is not all this book has to offer. There is a point where the book takes a complete deviation from the normal flow of things and pulls on its second skin.

    I look at the back of the book trying to work out what else I should tell you. I see words in the book blurb. Clandestine, intrigue, violence, brotherhood. Yeah, I'll give the author those. That isn't all the smoke and mirrors of your usual hackneyed book blurb. It does have all that going on.
    Obviously, being a debut, not everything is going to be perfect. Damn close though. None of the faults are fatal ones. They are easy to circumnavigate in future novels if the author wanted to evolve his style a little.

    I do not understand why this book was ever overlooked by agents and publishers (except the Indie one that picked him up). In fact, I think I have an extra forehead wrinkle from all the frowning I have done as I have read it.
    There were actually times where I have put it down and said out loud “but how did this happen! This is too good!”
    Books like this should not be slipping through the cracks. Good stories, an author with bonafide life experience and solid writing skills.

    What more could a lover of historical fiction wont for?

    Oh, I know..she would wont for book two.

    I hope I haven't given the author, Christian Kachel, a big head with all my flowery words. But how can any self respecting devotee of this genre leave negative feedback in their reviews when she/he deems the writing or stories bad in books, or aggrandize books that probably don't deserve it...and then not give a power stroke of positivity in a review for a book with as much going for it as this one.

    Of course I had to be forthcoming. Of course.

    5 stars out of 5. All day long.

    By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) I recommend this book to readers who like historical fiction. Knowing how this piece of history finally plays out did not deter my reading pleasure, but the author needs a good editor. Repeatedly, but not consistently, the author used the nominative form of personal pronouns where the objective forms should have been used. The killer name-pronoun proximity rules were breached a few times, but not so frequently that I was tripped up in the read.

    I liked Andrikos who the author 'grew' before my very eyes! Andrikos was on the wrong path when the storyline opened. Getting him into the army built his muscles, mind and character. Catapulting him into the spy world was writing genius. His sexual escapades were just put right out there for the reader. No imagination required! But I learned something from all the whoring going on. As Andrikos moved up the whore ladder, I saw discrimination of a kind I had never considered before. It transcended wealth, race or sex discrimination and exposed how the mind is trained and retrained to think on such matters. I know power was for the 'haves' and not for the 'have-nots', but everyman must have some divot of dignity to be human. The battle for dignity was a war that Andrikos was winning when last I heard from him. Was it the author's intention to make me think on these matters? I hope so.

    Thank you, Mr. Kachel, for a good read. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) BY THE SWORD (SPOILS OF OLYMPUS) frustrated me. From the three book awards it has won, I expected a high-quality, well-told story (per the back cover blurb) about a young Greek warrior’s experiences following the death of Alexander the Great. But within the first few chapters, SWORD reveals itself to be the kind of book that gives indie publishing a bad name.

    First, a disclaimer: the story may well be as terrific as the award judges thought. But I couldn’t get past the first couple of dozen pages, which assail a reader with:

    Punctuation issues: Hyphens instead of dashes (“a fist fight that I believe we won- that explains my sore cheek”); commas missing from dialogue (“Good night I trust boys?”).
    Research errors: The god to whom Andrikos’ family had a shrine would have been Dionysos, not Dionysius; his uncle who was supposedly “separating clay amphora” must actually have had multiple amphorai (or amphoras).
    Odd word choices: “The store was stoic and neat” (should this be “Spartan” or “plain”?);“Aren’t you supposed to be looking out for things like that while I’m predisposed fighting some deviant on your behalf” (“preoccupied”?); “[The women’s] appearance was hoarse and weathered through years of mistreatment” (“coarse”?); “She… was adorned with… a hair beret to signal she was no commoner” (“barrette,” surely?); “the cacophony of misery combined to create a pungent odour” (noise creates a smell?).

    Mr. Kachel, please hire a copyeditor! Chances are, you’ll win higher marks from readers and judges both. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1) Even after trusting a very effusive review of someone whose opinion I respect, and though I'm excited at reading anything on the ancient world, I found this one was not my 'cup of tea.' Basically a Bildungsroman, a young man, Andrikos, an Ionian Greek, falls in with a bad bunch of companions and because of a crime he commits, has to leave town. So he joins the army. Alexander the Great has died, leaving no clear successor and heir to his empire. Andrikos has joined the faction supporting Alexander's infant son. We see his brutal basic training. Then he is blooded in his first battle but killing prisoners is distasteful to him. A spymaster sees something in him that he feels will be valuable--his naiveté--and recruits him for an espionage mission. I enjoyed his training to be an effective spy. Most of the novel follows that intrigue. A mature Andrikos emerges and we are left with not exactly a cliffhanger, but room for a new adventure, possibly incorporating his new talent. I do not intend following any further adventures.

    On the whole I enjoyed the story. I was squeamish at the torture scene, which I felt was too grisly for my taste. Bad proofing or lack of any proofing annoyed me and spoiled my full enjoyment. I did not become immersed in that time period. Past participles were turned into verbs; there were many wrong homophones. Style ranged from too well organized and long-winded with extensive vocabulary, dialogue and narration to vulgarisms soon after. This was unbelievable to me that simple soldiers and even the spymaster would talk that way. The author kept the same tone when different characters spoke and with descriptions. I couldn't connect with any characters, despite Andrikos being presented as a basically decent young man, led down the metaphorical garden path at first by the bad company he kept--and then infiltrating the real pleasure garden, Triparadeisos, as part of his mission. By the Sword (Spoils of Olympus, #1)