Okay. So. Some of you may have heard recently that I managed to get my eager little paws on a copy of Gary Corby's upcoming second mystery, THE IONIA SANCTION. Which I then proceeded to read in three nights (fast for me, lately), staying up until 1:30 AM the last night trying not to wake up my husband so I could finish it.
Because, you guys, I LOVED IT. Gary has such an easy way of writing history. I'm sure it's not easy for him, but he makes it look easy. I love how his books fit neatly into these little spaces between real events (more on that later!)
One of the things that I really like about Gary's books is that he doesn't shy away from being historically accurate to soothe modern sensibilities. The main character, Nico, acts exactly as a young Hellene male should: like he's in charge. There's one part in the story where Nico buys a young girl as a slave, and despite the fact that he does this to save her from a much worse fate, he still expects her to treat him with the respect due a master. This dynamic is both comical within the setting of the story and appreciable from a historical point of view. Nico only acts as he would be expected to. In Ancient times, slaves were property, animals were tools, and men couldn't marry without their father's permission.
The mystery in this story is well-crafted, with an appropriate body count and an even-more appropriate exposure to the brutality of the ancient world. I think Gary does an excellent job of brushing up to the bad/gory parts but not focusing on them to the point that the book gets gruesome and loses focus. The plot is clear and easy to follow, and the twists are well-spaced. The pacing is compelling (obviously, since I couldn't put it down), and I love the historical lessons woven throughout the narrative without feeling forced.
My favorite part? Well, as a horse person, I loved the part where Nico tries to impress a lady and ride a horse. Actually, I just loved that horse. And Gary's inclusion of said horse in the cast of characters at the beginning of the book.
I also really liked the relationship between Diotima and Nico, which only gets better in this book.
So while I could probably go on and on and on about THE IONIA SANCTION, I think I will stop there and let Gary speak for himself a little bit.
Me: What's your favorite death in the book?
Me: Did the Greeks have a holiday like or similar to Halloween?
Me: One of my very favorite parts of your books is how you find little pockets of intrigue in real history to tuck your stories into. Has it been hard finding those pockets and putting Nico in them? Of THE PERICLES COMMISSION and THE IONIA SANCTION, what is your favorite coincidence that worked out this way?
Thanks so much, Gary, for taking the time to answer these questions (and write such a fun book)!
And congratulations to Amalia T., who won the IONIA SANCTION ARC prize pack! Thanks to everyone who entered!
THE IONIA SANCTION comes out on November 8th. Pre-order at Amazon.com or B&N.com.
Happy Anthesteria, everyone!