REVIEW – Dancing With The Lion: Rise by Jeanne Reames

The Official Description: The story of Alexander before he became “the Great.”

Finished with schooling, Alexandros is appointed regent of Makedon while his father is away on campaign. He thrives with his new authority—this is the role he was born for—yet it creates conflict with his mother and Hephaistion. And when his soldiers, whom he leads with unexpected skill, start to call him “The Little King,” his father is less than delighted.

Tensions escalate between Alexandros and his father, and between Makedon and the city-states of southern Greece. As the drums of war sound, king and crown prince quarrel during their march to meet the Greeks in combat. Among other things, his father wants to know he can produce heirs, and thinks he should take a mistress, an idea Alexandros resists.

After the south is pacified, friction remains between Alexandros and the king. Hostilities explode at festivities for his father’s latest wedding, forcing Alexandros to flee in the middle of the night with his mother and Hephaistion. The rigors of exile strain his relationships, but the path to the throne will be his biggest challenge yet: a face-off for power between the talented young cub and the seasoned old lion.

Just the facts: HIstorical fiction, fathers and sons, becoming a King, queer characters, coming of age.

Reames brings Alexander the Great back to life in this well-crafted, historical novel. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: This was a great continuation of the Dancing With the Lion series. This book brings the author back to the world of Alexandros as he is coming into his own as a leader, a man, and a partner. It’s so difficult to read a book like this and then come up with a succinct summary. Reames is a great writer, using detail when it’s appropriate and simply letting her main characters speak through their actions.

This book is just as much about family and friendship as it is about the general military history of Alexander the Great. There are a lot of differences between Alexandros and his best friend and sometime lover Hephaistion. The most pointed difference in my mind is the way they were raised. Hephaistion’s father was loving, familiar, stern when he had to be… and offered his son advice when he thought it warranted. As the son of a king, Alexandros had a distant relationship with his father. The King has politics and ruling forefront in his mind and his familial bond with Alexandros is fragile. Like Reames, I have no doubt that Philippos loved his son, he just seemed incapable of parenting a son rather than raising an heir. I’m simplifying this greatly in light of the wonderful way that Reames has written the complicated bonds between fathers and sons in this book.

What is clear in the book is that the relationships Alexandros has with all the people in his life are what shapes him into the leader he will become. While his father challenges him at every turn, Alexandros receives more gentle parenting from Hephaistion’s father, Amyntor. And again, Hephaistion… he is Alexandros’ best friend, his brother-in-arms, his lover and in many ways his teacher. The bond between these two characters is beautiful and complex. There are moments that are poignant without being over-the-top…. and I loved that. The bonding ceremony between Alexandros and Hephaistion is beautiful and symbolic of much of the depth of their relationship.

As these two young men mature and grow, their relationship morphs. They are lovers on occasion, friends always and unfailingly dedicated to one another. Hephaistion teaches Alexandros about weakness and true strength, the bonds of love and ultimately, the way to lead.

This series was a fantastic read. Yes, it’s historical, but Reames brings Alexander the Great back to life. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books, 4 stars from me!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) violence, vivid description of the death of a horse, death of animals (sacrificial), death and injury in warfare, death of family members after a lengthy illness.

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Rise (Dancing with the Lion #2) by Jeanne Reames from Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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