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|Published 2 January 2014
Babylon, 323 BC. Alexander the Great has survived every effort to kill him. Restless, ruthless he wonders which world to conquer next. He has a new weapon - the war elephants he brought back from India. He also has a conquest in mind - the fabulous empire of Carthage.
As Alexander plots, a war elephant disturbs the peace of the camp. Only one young mahout has the courage to stop his killing rampage. And when Alexander notices his bravery, Gajendra begins a meteoric climb through the ranks of the Macedonian army. As captain of the elephants he glimpses the ultimate prize. But to become the heir to Alexander's throne he must betray everything he loves...
Colossus is an epic tale of massive evil, pitiless gods and burning cities, of dwarves, priestesses and kings. It is the story of two men - one with colossal ambition, and one who reaches for undreamed-of power. All set against the warp of history as Alexander's army approaches the gates of Rome.
Alexander ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions
Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for your novel , Colossus?
I was reading a book called The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony. His descriptions of his relationships with these extraordinary animals at his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand in South Africa really startled me.
Then I saw a photograph of Hannibal and the famous Alpine crossing with his war elephants in the Punic Wars. It somehow seemed obscene, after what I had just read. I started to think about writing a novel where one of the central characters was a war elephant.
What can you tell us about the story which will pique the reader's interest?
Someone described it as Warhorse with Alexander the Great set within an alternative history. I guarantee a reader won’t have ever come across anything quite like it.
In your research for Colossus, did you discover anything which surprised you?
How much elephants eat! The Indians had a saying, that if you wanted to destroy your enemy, then give him an elephant, because keeping it would ruin him.
And words do not do justice to Alexander’s nature; for mine, a true psychopathic genius. I was surprised how history has lionised and distorted him. To me, he was a monster. His acute intelligence only made him more terrifying.
When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?
Writing has been my living for 30 years so making time to write is part of the discipline that has enabled that. If I don’t write, I don’t eat.
And I can write anywhere; on a table, on a sofa, in an airport lounge, during a riot. (Yes that happened in La Paz.) It really doesn’t matter to me. If I have a story in my head- and I always do - then I’m writing, wherever I am.
Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?
I just published a book about Isabella - under my other name. And yes, I have my next novel planned - or rather, novels. It has the same epic nature as COLOSSUS but over a series of six books. Or perhaps a sequel to COLOSSUS. We’ll see.
Alexander ~ Thank you for your insightful answers to our questions.
Jaffa and I have enjoyed being part of your blog tour.
We wish you continuing success.
My Thoughts on Colossus
Before I started reading Colossus I didn't know very much about either elephants or Alexander the Great, but the epic journey undertaken in the story of Colossus goes a long way in explaining much about both. The story begins with an introduction to Colossus, a huge war elephant who is erratically but successfully managed by one young mahout, Gajendra, who alone has the courage to manage this colossal beast. As part of Alexander the Great’s war entourage, Gajendra starts a impressive rise through the ranks of the Macedonian army to become captain of the war-elephants, but he also sees at first-hand how corruption and power are diminishing Alexander’s hold on reality.
What then follows is a well imagined alternate history, in which it is assumed that Alexander survived the Battle of Macedonia in 323BC to lead his battle troops on to the very gates of Rome.
For me, the book got off to a slow start, there is much to take in, with a complex network of characters and places to get to grips with, but about a third of the way into the novel and the story started to come together and became much more interesting. There is no doubt that the author has the ability to tell a good story, his manipulation of the narrative and his imaginative use of history, is something that I am sure will appeal to those who have an interest in alternate history novels.
My thanks to Alison at Atlantic Books for my advance copy of Colossus and for the invitation to take part in this blog tour.