The Gryphon's Skull

By H. N. Turteltaub
(Tor Books, Hardcover, 9780312872229, 400pp.)

Publication Date: February 2003

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Description

In the tradition of Steven Pressfield and Mary Renault, a seafaring novel of the ancient Greeks

The vast tapestry of the Hellenic world unfolds in this stirring tale of two traders from the island of Rhodes, who range across the wind-blown face of the beautiful and treacherous Mediterranean in search of adventure and profits.

In Over the Wine-dark Sea, H. N. Turteltaub transported his readers to the year 310 B.C. and the lives of Menedemos and Sostratos, two sea traders of Rhodes. From the smell of papyrus and ink to the thrumming of sail in the wind and the grunt of the oarsmen, the details of life in a now-vanished world come alive again in his new novel, The Gryphon’s Skull, an epic of grand adventure and finely realized characters. Sostratos, long and rangy, intellectual and curious, chases knowledge as ardently as his cousin chases women; Menedemos, nearly as perfect a physical specimen as Alexander himself, is the headstrong man of the sea, his eyes unable to resist the veiled beauties around him . . . including his young stepmother, Baukis, whose voice and form he struggles to ignore.

Having profitably returned on the Aphrodite to Rhodes, the two cousins find that war threatens their once free-trading world. Alexander the Great’s successors are warring for control of the eastern Mediterranean. The ruthless one-eyed general Antigonos, who draws on the strength of all Anatolia, and his rival Ptolemaios, who controls the endless wealth of Egypt, are each ruthlessly maneuvering for advantage . . . and the neutrality of Rhodes, so essential to commerce, may be coming to an end.

Yet though war and rumors of war surround them, Sostratos and Menedemos need to turn a profit. It seems the height of folly to try one’s luck so strenuously, but Sostratos has come into possession of what he is convinced is the skull of the mythical gryphon, the fabled beast with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. They sail to Athens, intending to sell it to a school of philosophy. And the Egyptian emeralds they’ve obtained on the cheap promise to make them an even tidier profit.

But between the Aphrodite and Athens lie two war fleets, innumerable pirates, and enough danger and intrigue to satisfy even Homer. Unfortunately, it may be more than Sostratos and Menedemos can hope to survive.




About the Author

H. N. Turteltaub is the pseudonym of a well-known novelist who is also an accomplished historian of the ancient world.

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