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Ch. 031 - A child killing other children


AN: Am I brain-dead or what? The rest of the post was written last night. I just didn't post it.

The fringe of men on the wall went very silent. Presently the gate creaked open, and he came out with the olive branch in his hand and a guard of eight, his face with its two-pointed beard deadly grim, between two sheets of hair so blond it was almost silver.

What were you thinking? I wanted to say to him. But I knew what he’d been thinking: there was no king in Pella.

Ch. 030 - The feeling of *moira* walking


Of course, war came, the moment the word got out that Philip, hands full in Byzantion, had left his peach-chinned son whose head could barely reach a man’s shoulder as regent in Pella, rather than someone competent. I hadn’t mock-hamstrung any of our enemies.

Ch. 029 - Only deeds tell


The start of fighting season when I was sixteen was the end of my stay at Mieza. We said farewell to Aristoteles, and I gave him appropriate gifts, and a promise to send him samples of plants and animals I found, wherever I traveled in my life.

Ch. 027 - A river to cross on the road of love


Those who think Tion was a fawning limp-wristed sycophant of a catamite (yes, words like that get back to me) never knew him. He wasn’t one to pick a fight, or unusually touchy, but he would stand his ground if he felt someone was speaking something significantly wrong or abusing him, even if it was me. And we were young, of course, and so more given to spats.

Ch. 021 - Barsine’s teeth


The older I got, the more Aristoteles spoke to me about things kings should know, or at least that he thought kings should know, especially if they planned to conquer foreign countries. “Barbarians are like animals or plants, fit only to be ruled over by Greeks,” he taught us.

Ch. 026 - They’ll never change, because people don’t


Kynnane and I wrote back and forth three or four times a month the whole time I was at Mieza. (“You know your writing style is getting more rhetorical, Alé? Don’t let that egghead philosopher turn you into an Athenian.”) She turned sixteen, so we knew my father would be soon looking for a match for her, of a politically strategic nature. She was by anyone’s definition a beauty, with her chestnut ringlets, precisely the same colour as Philip’s, her light brown eyes with their half-Illyrian lines, her knife-edge build. Though some men might have felt she had too much muscle.

Ch. 018 - On the back of a perfect horse


Spring horse-market day is held on the horse training ground just outside Pella, and every horse dealer or horse buyer who is any horse dealer or horse buyer is there, along with many people who would never come within kicking-range of a horse, but love festivals. (We Makednians know what things ought to be celebrated.) The tribes set up their flags; sellers of everything from tack to sweets hawk loudly, jugglers and musicians and acrobats perform, philosophers make speeches that few listen to, and the trick-riders draw the biggest crowds.

Ch. 025 - Like a dream beyond imagining


He went after my father’s horse, of course, swinging the thing back and then whipping it around like a scythe, blurring fast. But the point of a charging ilé is a point of lance-points moving with such force they can punch through a bronze-clad shield like an awl through leather; those who cannot deflect are dead in the first moment, those whose timing is so perfect that they can are usually dead in the next, under hooves. He was caught on a lance, I thought, but then I lost sight of him, facing Thrakians of my own.

Ch. 024 - Carrying your courage on its fury


“Why does he do this to me?” I’d asked my friends to come with me into the woods for more firewood, axes on our shoulders, so I could speak freely and even let my voice go high in rage if I wanted to. A king like Philip has spies everywhere, because everyone knows if they bring him information he wants, he’ll throw them drachmai. I passed my axe off to Tion before I started pacing; better I not be holding something with an edge. “Raise me up one moment, cut me down the next? ‛Run along,’ run along, like to a shit-dribbling three-year-old!

Ch. 023 - King’s work


The summer I was fifteen—well, fourteen going on fifteen—my father called me away from Mieza to campaign with him against the Thrakians. The coast we’d taken the year before, and the Odrysian king Kersobleptes Kotys’s reduced to sending us tribute; the hills remained intransigent. “That’s the problem with Thrakia,” Philip said. “Their bane in ruling—they break up—is their strength against being ruled—you can’t conquer them all at once.” I did not know how spoiled I was, really, having a teacher who’d lay out for me the situations before us in maxims I could apply everywhere.

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