The Sand-Reckoner
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The Sand-Reckoner

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  425 ratings  ·  46 reviews
The young scholar Archimedes has just had the best three years of his life at Ptolemy's Museum at Alexandria. To be able to talk and think all day, every day, sharing ideas and information with the world's greatest minds, is heaven to Archimedes. But heaven must be forsaken when he learns that his father is ailing, and his home city of Syracuse is at war with the Romans.

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Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 2nd 2001 by Forge Books (first published April 1st 2000)
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The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerThe Persian Boy by Mary RenaultGates of Fire by Steven PressfieldThe Last of the Wine by Mary RenaultThe King Must Die by Mary Renault
Historical Fiction: Ancient Greece
20th out of 59 books — 27 voters
Flags of Our Fathers by James D. BradleyThe Sand-Reckoner by Gillian BradshawGirl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy ChevalierCounting Coup by Larry ColtonSoldier by June Jordan
2001 Alex Award Winners
2nd out of 10 books — 1 voter


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Jenny
This was a very good book. The best book I've read in a while. It was well written with a captivating plot and I loved the characters. I think my favorite part of this book is how the author explains math and music. The way she describes them is amazing. I used to hate math because I saw no point in something I couldn't even apply to my life. I mean I didn't mind using it for reality like paying bills and taxes. (Although...I'm only seventeen so I don't have to do that quite yet.) But at school,...more
Scott
This novel is an excellent piece of historical fiction. I may be completely biased, however. I have read the earlier non-fiction work "The Archimedes Codex" and have enjoyed learning what we know about this astounding man from the few fragments that have survived from antiquity.

The novel is entirely plausible. The author, Gillian Bradshaw, studied Classics at Cambridge University, and the world the characters inhabit has a plausibly real look, smell, and feel of Syracuse circa 250 B.C. Syracuse...more
Elizabeth
I have shiny sparkly hearts in my eyes. Plot I understand and historical accuracy and complex characters and they talk to each other and they have relationships with each other and these relationships change because there are consequences for actions and the hero is a math genius and omg the only thing I regret is that I cannot read this again for the first time.
Bonnie
This was a fascinating book both for the story and for the historical aspect. I had known nothing about Archimedes before I read this book (although I vaguely knew that he had something to do with math and science). Very involving even if one isn't really into history, but especially if one is. Incidentally, I've liked all of her books that I've read.
Joy
A fictional version of the years in which Aristophanes established himself as one of the greatest engineers of ancient times. In addition to the miracle that was the mind of Aristophanes, we become close to his warm, musical family; his slave Marcus with his conflicts of duty; the almost equally miraculous King Hieron of Syracuse; and the king's sister Doria, brave in reaching out to the unknown. Every one of those characters, and more, bind us emotionally into Aristophanes' homeland.

I am in lov...more
Fiona
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a very engaging, well-researched piece of historical fiction. While I learnt a lot about Greek culture and history, it was never tedious and the plot was always relevant and interesting.

It is clear that Bradshaw is an expert on the Greek period, and all the cultural and historical information show this. However, she also explained Archimedes' geometry and engineering very successfully; descriptions of his machines were just enough to illustrate their pur...more
Alcornell
Really too bad for me that I didn't make some notes when I finished this book about the life and work of Archimedes. It was a very good read. Entertaining and full to the brim of well wrought scenes of Ancient Greek culture, domestic and political life in Sicily. I do still think about this book a year after reading it. I wonder about the unknowns: who was Archimedes' wife and what would she say about living with this great mathematician? I am sad for the slaves and Helots who perished in all th...more
Jenevieve
Historical fiction for kid's bookclub. A snapshot of the life of Archimedes from the time he leaves Alexandria to come home because of his father's failing health and the threat of war between his home, Syracuse, and Rome. It breaks his heart to leave Alexandria and his pursuit of pure mathematics but he does his duty. When he returns home, it is to find that his father is dying and he will soon be head of the house and must find a way of supporting himself, his mother, and his sister. He knows...more
Wellington

This is the story of Archimedes, the math genius. Because of his father's health, he has to return home to Syracuse away from wondrous Alexandria, home to the most advanced thinkers of the times.

It's a story of a man who just wanted to do geometry. Easily distracted, Archimedes would stop what he doing to do his calculations on the sand beneath his feet and get lost for hours. I have a found a soul mate (not that I have his math skills but I have been known to get lost in thought for hours at a...more
May
I really enjoyed this book. As mentioned by previous reviewers, it is about the life of Archimedes, about which little is known other than his brilliant mathematics. The same is true for the other historical characters--Hieron, the Tyrant of Syracuse, for example. The author draws a compelling story line of the relationship between Archimedes and Hieron, consistent with known facts and fleshes out their characters well. There is also a subplot regarding Marcus, the slave, that provides a wonderf...more
Blais,
The Sand-Reckoner is a book based in ancient Greece, in Syracuse in specific. The hero, Archimides, has been taken from his pursuit of scientific discovery by the attack of the Roman legions, and he has to use all of his knowledge and intellect to survive.
Libby
Although it started off a bit slowly for me, I gained steady momentum and then found myself having difficulty putting the book down. It was a perfect Summer read for me even though I don't prefer historical fiction while poolside; admittedly I'm more of a light and sloppy romance sort of girl this time of year! I'd recommend it to anyone who finds a glimpse into Europe's historical past's complicated political realms fascinating. The Sand-Reckoner touched on all the points of a good read for me:...more
Jane
Not much is known about the life of Archimedes; but the author has done a very good job of writing a fictional historical novel on him. She made the the technical aspects -- math and engineering -- fairly understandable. I can now see their importance in our everyday life. I loved all the characters; however, King Hieron did seem a bit unbelievable, too good to be true, although I understand the historical King Hieron, was a very good king. I empathized completely with Archimedes' Roman slave, M...more
Sherry
I always enjoy Gillan Bradshaw's books. She has the knack of really making you see the world the characters lived in. However, I can't say that the Sand-Reckoner is going to be one of the first of her books I recommend. The story is a little flat, a little boring. The characters never seem to quite come to life, as compared to her other works that I found really compelling, like The Horses of Heaven.
However, this is in comparison to her own work. By any standards, the Sand-Reckoner is a good rea...more
Brittany
I was hesitant to start reading this book, knowing that the main character is Archimedes. Trying to get inside the head of an ancient mathematical genius takes a lot of guts. Happily, Gillian Bradshaw has those guts, and the necessary brains and imagination, in spades.

This is a phenomenal book, with excellent characters, wonderful plot, and fantastic historical detail. I'd recommend it to anyone as a remarkable work of historical fiction.
Karen
I am a big fan of Gillian Bradshaw's historical fiction and this book about Archimedes did not disappoint. It has its flaws, the biggest of which is how predictable parts of it are, but overall it's a joy to read. Her characters are engaging, the pace is perfect, and the setting is fascinating and full of interesting historical detail. It's meant for entertainment and mild education and is not full of deep meaning, but it was a breath of fresh air for me and I greatly enjoyed it.
Julia
My brother told me about this author and recommended this book and one called Wolf Hunt. This one is about Archimedes who lived in the late b.c. in Greece. He was a brilliant mathematician and engineer, and the story tells what happened to him when he had to come home to Syracuse after having spent 3 years studying in Alexandria. It was pretty interesting and made me want to get my son interested in math and science at an early age.
Kristyn Jensen
What a great story! The characters sucked you in and made you love them. I live the Greek perspectives of the Romans because so often that's their perspective of other nations. It seems to come from a lack of self acceptance as a nation as well as ignorance, but that has nothing to do with this book. The combination of mathematics and music is inspiring as well as geometry as a tool for faith. Beautifully written!
Gayle
Historical fiction about Archimedes. Although the story does not have alot of tension it is still compelling because of the characters and the historical details of the times. The Romans became the world power in the region and this story is set as they are beginning their domination. The story is told from Archimedes (the Greek) view of events and demonstrates the class of the 2 cultures.
Kathryn
It kind of had an abrupt ending...like she got tired of writing it and the last chapter just skips over a lot of events (like marriages) and is set a year or two in the future. She also doesn't detail what Archimedes does with the rest of his life in terms of building machines or doing mathematics. So while it gives a glimpse of his younger years it offers no view of his later years.
Keith
I've always liked historical fiction ever since I was a teenager and found A Pillar Of Iron by Taylor Caldwell...So, this was another great book set in ancient times about the mathematician Archimedes. It got me hooked from the first page until the end, very hard to put down. I recommend it to anyone interested in ancient times and who likes a great story..You won't be disappointed!!
Mike Edens
The Sand Reckoner is a great historical fiction book about Archimedes, the ancient mathematician, and his struggle of choosing between his country and his love for pure math. The book is very descriptive and paints a great picture in your head. It also does a great job portraying Greek history and technology. It’s a fun and easy book to read.
Mary Ann
An excellent look at the Ancient Greek Archimedes through the lens of fiction. Did I really understand that relationship of the volume of a cylinder within a sphere? The author explained and described Archimedes' thoughts so well I felt like I understood.

This is not, however, a book about mathematics. The story line is interesting, as well.
Yune
May 09, 2007 Yune rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mathy folks, romantic historical fiction buffs (not historical romance)
A warm view of Archimedes as a person with a family, a loyalty to a city-state at war, and a passion for mathematics which few understand. Bradshaw makes the details of her historical settings approachable, but she's at her strongest weaving famous figures into human relationships.
Kendra
This was better than I thought. It's a historical fiction about archimedes. I got into the story and the characters, and there was math...but not too overwhelming. The author took some liberties, since not much is known about his life. But, I enjoyed it. Good story
Holly
Dec 09, 2007 Holly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historical fiction diehards
I loved how beautifully Bradshaw humanizes Archimedes and throws in math trivia as an added bonus. Her descriptions of ancient Greece and the society are fascinating, but she never sacrifices the tempo of her story to include a dry dissertation on antiquities.
Rina
Compulsively readable and very human, The Sand-Reckoner brings Archimedes, the ancient Greek mathematician, to life: a naive, absentminded young man struggling to choose between his duty to his home and his passion for pure mathematics.
Heidi Babcock
This is the third book I've read by this author and all are so different and interesting. I enjoy learning about historical figures and being entertained at the same time.
Lisa
Historical Fiction, which I love. Bradshaw is a great writer. The book is about a fumbling, but brilliant Archimedes who sort of comes of age during his time. Very good read.
Danielle
Quick read about the fictional life of Archimedes. Some very interesting math/physics applications surround a cute love story set in an exciting era.
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84803
Born in Arlington, Virgina, Gillian Bradshaw grew up in Washington, Santiago, Chile and Michigan. She is a Classics graduate from Newnham College, Cambridge, and published her first novel, Hawk of May, just before her final term. A highly acclaimed historical novelist, Gillian Bradshaw has won the Hopwood Award for Fiction, among other prizes. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and their four...more
More about Gillian Bradshaw...
Hawk of May The Beacon at Alexandria Island of Ghosts Kingdom of Summer The Wolf Hunt

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