Bettynz's Reviews > Alexandria

Alexandria by Lindsey Davis
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's review
May 30, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: 2009
Read in July, 2009

Well, I'm pleased to have finally finished this one. I thought it seemed sooo appealing, being set in Alexandria, with recounting of stories about the Pharos and other entertainments. However, I have to say it was a real grind. Not helped by the attraction of Charlaine Harris's books mounting up at the library waiting for me!
So, the best bit, for me, was in the last 10 pages, where we are introduced to a new character, which strikes me as moderately bizarre. Tis Hero of course - seems like Ms Davis was wanting to get all of Alexandria's attractions into one volume. Some amusing bits which I just feel the need to quote:

He was described as "the mental conjurer who invented the self-trimming oil lamp, the inexhaustible goblet and the slot machine to dispense holy water." and "so secure in his enlightened cleverness he could freely share his enjoyment of ideas with anybody who would listen"
(typical physicist!!!)
"not all his work was frivolous. He had written on light, reflection & the use of mirrors; useful stuff on dynamics, with reference to heavy lifting machines; on the determination of lengths using surveying instruments and devices.... He covered mathematics, physics, mechanics and pneumatics..."
"The most fascinating gadget he told us about was his aeoliphile, which he modestly translated as a "wind ball". His design for it used a sealed cauldron of water which was placed over a heat source. As the water boiled steam rose into pipes and into the hollow sphere. As I understood it, this also resulted in rotation of the ball. 'So, what could it be used for?' asked Helena, 'might it be useful for propulsion, for moving vehicles?'. Heron laughed 'I do not consider this invention to be useful, merely intriguing. It is a novelty, a remarkable toy...who would need it?'.

I snorted and chuckled my way through that bit and imagined Ms Davis' tongue very firmly planted in cheek! Made the whole rest of the long-winded book worth it!

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