I usually find Gillian Bradshaw's historical novels a pleasure to read and this one was no exception. It has all the characteristics I particularly enjoy in her work. Its historically accurate without in any way being a dry compendium of factoids. Its full of interesting strong willed characters, male and female, who have agendas and pursue them with courage and creativity, and are sometimes funny and sometimes tragic and always of their time. I particularly appreciate that she writes strong women who are of their time. She doesn't make them proto feminists who have somehow absorbed ideas from the future (a wormhole in time perchance?) but she doesn't make them a bunch of spineless nellies either.
It explores some aspect of history that isn't all that widely known, a time period or a location, or a profession that is a little bit off the beaten path. In this case the story concerns a kithara player trying to build a career for herself and a galley captain for the navy of Rhodes in the time after Alexander's empire has fallen apart. Finally, its a tale, not a tome. Okay sometimes there's a place in my reading for the sprawling decades long epic with the cast of thousands. But at least as often, in fact probably more often, I like a neat, self contained story with a bit of self restraint. Its something I particularly value in historical fiction, which does sometime suffer from a tendency to go on a bit.