NESFA Members' Reviews


by Esther Friesner

Baen, ISBN 0-671-87725-9, 1996, 312pp, US$5.99

A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1996 Evelyn C. Leeper

Alternate histories are about "what if"s, but even so I was skeptical of this one. After all, the premise is that Venus (the goddess, not the planet) comes down and convinces Brutus to save Caesar from the assassination attempt. This could be a pretty silly idea, but Friesner manages to avoid the pitfalls. Venus is not just a silly love goddess, but the more accurate serious deity of Greek mythology. And her intervention is kept to a minimum.

Friesner also manages to come up with a plausible alternate history--perhaps someone more familiar with the period could pick holes in it, but I found it believable. I also found the motivations interesting, though the ending was a bit telegraphed. (Does saying that constitute a spoiler?) But Friesner is never one for the simplistic and manages to cast an unexpectedly mythic interpretation and motivation to it all.

Don't dismiss this one as just another silly-premised alternate history. Unusual the premise may be, but Friesner develops it with seriousness and diligence, and more than a little philosophy. I won't argue that Shakespeare's treatment of Julius Caesar and Brutus isn't greater, but I would recommend this book to those interested in historical fantasy.

Oh, and while it's true that Charleton Heston was in two film versions of Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR, he never played Brutus (or any of the other conspirators), which appears to be how Gary Ruddell depicted him on the cover.

%T      Child of the Eagle
%A      Esther Friesner
%C      New York
%D      June 1996
%I      Baen
%O      paperback, US$5.99
%G      ISBN 0-671-87725-9
%P      312pp

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