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THE LION (The Golden Age #1) by Conn Iggulden

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

This is, I think, the best of the three Athenian novels Conn Iggulden has written so far. The first two lacked a personal touch, very little dialogue, not much investment in the characters. This felt much more rounded, more engaging.

We follow Pericles through his early adulthood, as he seeks to carve himself out a reputation to match his fathers in Athens. He fights in the fleet under the command of Cimon, a man who is both a friend and a rival to him. Together they capture the island of Cyprus, a bitter contest in which Pericles is wounded.

We see Pericles grow as a man and as a leader. He marries, a decision he comes to regret, and even uses his family wealth to back a up and coming production in Athens, hoping to build his reputation further.

The story climaxes with a fierce battle on Persian soil. Once more with the fleet, Pericles and Cimon discover a vast Persian force, being readied in secret, and immediately launch an attack, seeking to nullify their enemy before they can sail on Greece. Pericles makes a rather strange decision in the aftermath of the battle (won't spoil it here!) but there seems little reason for it. It jerked a bit as a reader, as it didn't seem it fit his character arc, and I felt left a bit of an odd ending. That being said, I will gladly read the next instalment.

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