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A Mercenary, a Princess & Olympic Glory - an Editorial Review of "Heart of Fire"


Heart of Fire book cover

Book Blurb:


A Mercenary… A Spartan Princess… And Olympic Glory…When Stefanos, an Argive mercenary, returns home from the wars raging across the Greek world, his life’s path is changed by his dying father’s last wish – that he win in the Olympic Games.As Stefanos sets out on a road to redemption to atone for the life of violence he has led, his life is turned upside down by Kyniska, a Spartan princess destined to make Olympic history.In a world of prejudice and hate, can the two lovers from enemy city-states gain the Gods’ favour and claim Olympic immortality? Or are they destined for humiliation and defeat?Remember… There can be no victory without sacrifice.Heart of Fire is a book for all those who struggle to make their dreams come true. If you like books by Steven Pressfield, David Gemmell, or Mary Renault, you will love this gripping novel of the ancient Olympic Games.Buy this book today and start off on a gritty, mysterious, and emotional journey into the heart of Ancient Greece.



Author Bio:


Adam Alexander Havarias

Adam Alexander Haviaras is the author of the #1 best selling Eagles and Dragons historical fantasy series, as well as other works of fiction and non-fiction set in the ancient and medieval worlds.

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Adam has studied ancient and medieval history and archaeology at the University of Toronto, Canada, and St. Andrews University, Scotland. He lives with his wife and children in Stratford, Ontario where he is currently writing another ground-breaking work of historical fiction.


If you like ancient history and fiction set in Greece or the Roman Empire, Greek and Roman mythology, or stories like Gladiator, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon, then you’ll love Adam’s books.


Adam is always happy to connect with readers, writers and those who love history in general. You can find him on Twitter (@AdamHaviaras), on the Eagles and Dragons Facebook page, or on Instagram (@adam_haviaras)

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Thank you for reading.


Editorial Review:


Η Ιερή Εκεχειρία

3 96 B.C.

The shield wall began to break almost right away, and the bragging between the two forces quickly turned to screaming as the blood flowed from the first wounds. On the edge of Ares' Dancing Floor, near Eleutherai, yet another battle had broken out.

It was the month of Thargelion, and men had already partly sated their winter's bloodlust. However, in recent years, when the memories of past alliances and betrayals still festered, when citystates still jingled purses before fighting men to gain the upper hand over their neighbours, peace was a rare thing, and bloody skirmishes the norm.

 

Haviaras grabs the reader's interest right away with an engaging and evocative opening. The first sentence immediately immerses the reader in antiquity and establishes the epic tale's setting. This intriguing hook reveals the author's skill in drawing readers in from the beginning of the narrative.


In Heart of Fire, Adam Alexander Haviaras transports us to the vibrant heart of ancient Greece through a story that is both a realistic recreation of the ancient Olympic Games and a voyage of personal salvation. Haviaras is an engrossing, poignant story that is full of the essence of human struggle and victory through the perspective of Kyniska, a Spartan princess with dreams of Olympic glory, and Stefanos, an Argive mercenary with a turbulent background.


Heart of Fire brings the most famous athletic event in ancient history to serve as the backdrop for a brilliant fusion of romance, mythology, and history. The plot is intriguing, drawing us in with a blend of deep personal stakes and wider historical ramifications. Haviaras explores what it means to pursue glory and redemption in a civilization constrained by strict conventions and long-standing rivalries via the weaving of a tale of love, honor, and ambition.


Most of the travellers along the road carried on west to head over the mountains of Arkadia to Olympia, in Ellis, but Stefanos, Kratos, and Pollux turned south west toward the sanctuary at Nemea. Here, at the long altar before the temple of Zeus, they made offerings to the Protector of Travellers for helping them come this far, and asked that they might gain their destinations without worry.

With the sheep's blood still fresh on his hands, Pollux turned to Stefanos and Kratos. "I guess this is farewell for now, brothers."

The two men embraced their Spartan compatriot, not a little moved to see their warlike triad broken for a time.

"May the Gods guide us to you again soon," Kratos said.

"If they desire it," Pollux said plainly, "I'll see you. And I'll send word if there is room in the mercenary shield wall of Sparta."

"Yes, do, my friend," Stefanos said. "And forgive my glumness yesterday. Peace time makes me itchy."

"Sometimes I wonder if you're more Spartan than I am," Pollux laughed. He then turned to Kratos. "Good luck in the Games. May the Gods grant you victory, and Nike's crown rest lightly on your brow."

With those parting words, Pollux hoisted his hoplon, satchel, and doru, and turned in the direction of Tegea, and then Sparta.

"I'm always sad to see that red cloak fade away," Stefanos said as he watched Pollux march down the narrow track away from the sanctuary.


Editing and formatting is top-notch in this book, making for a smooth reading experience. Haviaras presents a story that is both readable and intricately nuanced, paying close attention to historical detail and language. An original lexicon of names and concepts is a clever addition that guarantees accessibility and emphasizes the author's dedication to authenticity.


The next strong suit of the book is the character development. It’s very well done and we’re able to relate to Stefanos and Kyniska's challenges and goals because of the nuanced and intricate writing. Stefanos has a fascinating and complex path from a violent existence to one filled with honor and purpose. Kyniska defies the norms of her era and epitomizes strength and resolve. Their growth throughout the book is evidence of Haviaras' talent for developing believable and incredibly inspirational characters.


The plot keeps up a smooth flow, with each chapter adding to the story's increasing energy. Haviaras skillfully strikes a balance between the personal and historical aspects, allowing the story to flow naturally toward its conclusion. Heart of Fire's continuity is a crucial component that keeps you interested and ready to find out what happens to the characters.


Another positive of this book is the uniqueness. Heart of Fire is notable for how differently it portrays the historical Olympic Games. Haviaras provides a novel viewpoint on a well-known historical era by contrasting the grandeur of the Olympics with the intimate tales of its protagonists. The novel's examination of concepts like love, competition, and atonement via the prisms of athletics and combat brings a noteworthy level of uniqueness.


The head priest then plunged his hands into the body and withdrew them to hold them up to the men who intended to compete in the Olympic Games. His red palms, thick and dripping with gore, faced them all.

"Father Zeus will have your oaths, competitors and coaches...mortal Olympians..."

 Stefanos felt his father near in that moment, was back in the room in Argos, swearing to his father that he would go to the Games, that he would win for his family's honour.

The priest seemed to stare each man in the face, unrushed, his eyes wide and brilliant, blood running down his forearms to disappear into the sleeves of his robes.

"Do you all swear that you have been training in your chosen events for the past ten months?" he demanded.

"We swear!" everyone answered.

"Do you swear, before almighty Zeus, that you will compete honourably and to the best of your abilities?"

"We swear!"

"Do you swear not to shame the Sacred Games?" the priest's voice was loud and rebounded onto them all from the neighbouring walls of the stoa to their right and the Bouleuterion before them.

"We swear!"

"Father Zeus!" the priest turned again to face the statue. "The men of Greece swear to uphold the sanctity of your Olympic Games! May you and Nike decide who is best among them, and crown them with eternal glory!"


Heart of Fire's narrative arc is expertly written, following a precise path that heightens suspense and expectation. The story moves along at a good clip, striking a pleasing mix of action and emotional nuance from Stefanos' early search for atonement to the pivotal events of the Olympic Games. The storyline comes to a dramatic climax that not only settles the main problems but also has a long-lasting effect on the reader.


With vivid descriptions and real dialogue, Haviaras' writing eloquently and precisely captures the spirit of Ancient Greece. The author's skill in fusing vivid storytelling with historical detail is astounding, resulting in an engaging and educational story. Heart of Fire is an excellent example of Haviaras' storytelling ability and his in-depth knowledge of antiquity.


Heart of Fire ends in a way that is both thought-provoking and satisfying. The conclusion, which will not give away any plot points, sums up the themes of sacrifice and triumph and leaves readers with a strong impression of the characters' travels. For anyone who has ever dared to dream large, it is a fitting conclusion to the novel's examination of reaching greatness despite all circumstances.


Adam Alexander Haviaras' Heart of Fire: A Novel of the Ancient Olympics is a magnificent story that vividly and emotionally captures the world of ancient Greece. Haviaras explores the ageless human search for greatness and significance via the connected destiny of Kyniska and Stefanos, as well as the spirit of the ancient Olympics. For those who enjoy historical fiction as well as those who are enthralled with Ancient Greece and its lasting influence, this book is a must-read.

 

*****


“Heart of Fire” by Adam Alexander Havarias receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company


Award:



 

To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please visit www.thehistoricalfictioncompany.com/book-awards/award-submission

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