A Bloodline of Kings

Below are readers' reviews, trade reviews, and a historical novelist's review for A Bloodline of Kings.


Mark Strahan from Massachusetts, July 2003

"I am writing to express my enjoyment and gratitude to you for your fine historical novel about Philip of Macedon and the Macedonian monarchy. As a life-long ancient history enthusiast, especially with all things relating to Alexander the Great, I was very pleasantly surprised when I found your book on the internet about six months ago. As I'm sure you are well aware, there aren't many well written histories of Philip, never mind historical novels on the subject, so my interest was immediate. Thanks to you, I enjoyed an excellent novel about a fascinating and significant figure in history I doubted I would ever see in print. Is it too much to hope that a second volume is on the way. I sincerely hope so. If it is, please have your publisher e-mail me so that I may order it right away."

'Magnificent' by a reader from Atlanta, GA
--a review on Amazon.com, April 2003

"So rare to see in historical fiction a work that gets the things right: the historical facts, the social atmosphere, and the characters. But this book achieved in all three...

My original decision to buy the hardcover copy of a previously unknown author was mainly because I am fascinated by Philip and Alexander of Macedon; while there are so many books about the son, the father has been relatively ignored by fiction writers.

This book turned out to be one of the best historical novels I have read (if not THE best). Because of the author's expertise in ancient warfare, I am not surprised to find the vivid account of battles and the military genius of Philip of Macedon. Beyond the military stuff, the book gives excellent description of the geological, religious, economical, and social realities of that era. This book brings me back in time more than 2,000 years ago, among the Macedonians and Greeks. I can feel and understand their environment, their beliefs, their everyday life, and their struggles; each men and women are creatures of their own time but have meaning for eternity. Among them the most vivid character of all is Philip of Macedon. This is the way a historical fiction should be: as accurate as historical textbook while at the same time vivid and fascinating as telling a great story. You feel you are there, as the history unfolds itself...

The only problem? The book stopped at Alexander's birth. There are twenty more years of great battle and conquering that follows before Philip's death; I really hope this book has a sequel."

History Comes Alive! by David Castlewitz from Wilmette, IL
-- a review on Amazon.com, February 2002

"While Alexander the Great is widely known as a general and conqueror, his father, Philip, has remained a footnote. This novel takes that footnote and brings him to life. Philip is presented to us as an intelligent boy who grows to young manhood. But, more importantly, the entire spectrum of life in ancient Greece, the world of Macedonia and the tribulations and ambitions of those who ruled or wished to rule, are brought vividly to life.

These are more than history book characters. That's why I liked the book so much. They spoke and acted like real people. They loved and hated with an intensity that stayed with me. I highly recommend Bloodline to anyone who likes history and wants to know more about what came before Alexander's greatness."


Historical Novels Review / May 2002 issue

It is unusual - and daunting - to take on a novel from a small press that arrives complete with glowing commentary from novelists such as Bernard Cornwell and Cecelia Holland. At its conclusion, I was relieved to find myself in complete agreement.

In this epic novel of Philip of Macedon, the story begins with one birth (that of Philip himself) and ends with another (his son Alexander, later 'the Great'). In the intervening pages, Sundell takes us through the life of an extraordinary man, Philippos of the Makedones, whose brilliant military career during the 4th century BC was overshadowed by that of his more famous son. It is Philippos who earns Macedon a place on the political playing field of the ancient Hellenes and makes it the equal of powerful city-states such as Athens and Thebes. This is not only a military saga, however, for the women are as strong and ambitious as the men. In fact, some of the most emotional moments occur as Kleopatra, former Queen of the Makedones and Philippos' great-grandmother, secretly trains her young charge to be a future leader, not knowing that his older brothers' early deaths will make her wishes come true.

The author's research is well evident - its thoroughness is, in fact, astonishing. As the novel does not always wear its research lightly, newcomers to the period may find it intellectually challenging, but the education they receive as a result will make their efforts worthwhile.
by Sarah Nesbeitt

Midwest Book Review / April 2002 issue of Library Bookwatch

Thomas Sundell's A Bloodline of Kings is a superbly crafted historical fiction novel set in the fourth century B.C., and is the story of Philip of Macedon, who in many ways forever altered the world of the Greeks and set the stage for his legendary son Alexander. A riveting book of rivalry and kingship vs. Athenian democracy, A Bloodline of Kings is filled with conflict from between two men to between disparate ways of life. A fascinating and involving novel that absorbs the reader into the clash of culture past, A Bloodline of Kings is highly recommended reading from beginning to end!

Publishers Weekly / January 21, 2002

The story of a great fourth-century B.C. king is retold in the present tense in Thomas Sundell's novel A Bloodline of Kings: A Novel of Philip of Macedon. King Philippos engages in mortal struggles with enemies and family amid the epic Hellenic rivalries, seeking safety for his people in a time of constant unrest. Six maps, one chart, one table.


Pamela Marcantel, author of An Army of Angels /July 11, 2000

It is probably safe to say that contemporary Western powers understand very little of the political and military complexities endemic to the ancient mountainous nations of the Balkans...

Historically, even a grudging consensus among the Balkans' various ethnic and religious groups always has depended upon the determined rulership of forceful, even ruthless, men, some more admirable than others. The pattern goes back a long way indeed, past the tensions which erupted into World War I and the horrors which characterized the medieval kingdoms, to approximately the 5th century BC. Had he not sired one of the most remarkable figures in recorded history, Philip of Macedon no doubt would stand with Julius Caesar as one of the ancient world's towering figures. As it is, historians often relegate him into the shadow of his son, Alexander the Great, upon whom for more than 500 centuries has been bestowed the aura of legend.

In his meticulously researched new novel of Philip's childhood and early manhood, A Bloodline of Kings, author Thomas Sundell largely succeeds in restoring the young Philip's stature as a man and a would-be warrior-king, and bringing his times to vivid, even terrifying life. Here is the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon, a brutal world torn by internecine warfare, political betrayals, assassinations, and intrigues worthy of the later, more civilized Byzantine courts. Despised as barbarians by the cultured southern city-states of Athens and Corinth, the noble families who populate Philip's story stride convincingly across the pages, all of them jockeying for ultimate power: the throne. None are more remarkable than Philip himself, the heir to already ancient hatreds and blood feuds, as a boy the overlooked younger son of Amuntas, "king" (actually more a chieftain) of the Temenedai tribe, and by the end of the novel the last standing ruler of a Macedon poised at the threshold of unity.

...Thomas Sundell knows very well and obviously loves the period and his cunning, ambitious protagonist, but he also seems determined to include every single historical fact relevant to the story. Still, this is a work of staggering and persuasive proportions filled with strong characters - both men and women - an epic that renders the ancient world and a not often depicted hero in all their violent yet strangely awesome glory. For anyone who seeks to understand the genesis of the intertribal and ethnic conflicts which have decimated the Balkans for the past decade - indeed, through most of its history - A Bloodline of Kings is a wonderful place to start.

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