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Stealing Fire

(Numinous World #2)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  479 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Alexander the Great's soldier, Lydias of Miletus, has survived the final campaigns of the king's life. He now has to deal with the chaos surrounding his death. Lydias throws his lot in with Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals who has grabbed Egypt as his personal territory. Aided by the eunuch Bagoas, the Persian archer Artashir, and the Athenian courtesan Thais, Ptolemy ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2010)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  479 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was really good but I prefer more Alex in my Alexander the Great books. Lydias was a super great protagonist for what this is.

Recommended for fans of:
- Ptolemy
- Hephaestion
- Thais (!!!!)
- Bagoas

Not recommended for fans of:
- Perdiccas
- Olympias
Stealing Fire showed somewhat unexpectedly in the mail and when I opened it, I just got hooked from the first page and I stayed way too late that night to finish it, though I reread it the following day to both savor it at leisure and get its finer points I may have missed on my first "need to find out what happens even if my eyes are closing" read.

The main strength of the novel is the first person narration of Lydias. He is a character you cannot help but root for and both his actions in the pr
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Ever had a meal that was absolutely exquisite, but the portion was so small that your stomach was still rumbling afterward? My experience with Stealing Fire was much like that.

Jo Graham’s Numinous World series is best described as “historical fantasy” and revolves around a core group of characters who are reincarnated at various points in history. The protagonist of Stealing Fire, Lydias of Miletus, lived previously as Gull in Black Ships, and will later live as Charmian in Hand of Isis.

Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This series just gets better and better and I'm totally reading it out of doesn't matter!

If you like...

historical fiction
historical fantasy involving the actions of gods, and reincarnation
well-developed characters
a touch of romance that isn't always entirely straight...

You will really love this series. Gillian Bradshaw fans would probably like it too. Recommend!
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I wanted to just love this as much as Graham's first two books - as it was, I just liked it well enough. I think a good part of that is due to my utter inability to follow battle scenes, and this book does have a lot of that sort of action. I liked the characters (Lydias, Hephaistion, Bagoas), but didn't fall in love with them quite the way I did with Charmian and Gull and Xandros and some of her earlier characters. In short, a good book that didn't speak to me as strongly as I'd hoped - but I a ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this story, especially the present against past scenes. There are a few little minor detail errors, but overall, I really appreciated the obvious familiarity with the ancient sources. Thank you! Especially enjoyed the battle scenes and military detail. I know nothing really about horses, so can't comment on the accuracy of that, but it seemed good to me. Yet I am a crazy military history buff, as well as a gay guy, and I get so damn FRUSTRATED with the homophobia in military historicals ab ...more
I enjoyed the depiction of the time period and the respectful handling of the historical characters, particularly since these are people I know and love. I didn't think the fantasy aspects fit here as well as they did in Black Ships, but they were ok. I could have used a fuller historical note at the end. Overall well done.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I found this book quite slow, and not much exciting happened. It was just interesting enough that I was able to read it in a few days, but it read more like a history book than a novel. It was neat that it it covered the time after Alexander, not during like most books.
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reminiscent of both Renault and Tarr, Graham takes us back to the tumultuous months/years immediately following the death of Alexander the Great. But there are flashbacks to Alexander’s reign. Hephaistion is a significant secondary character.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Greek historical novel with just the right amount of fantasy.
J. Milius
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not only a human take on the rich history of the Ancient World, but one with a focus on outsiders, LGBTQ relationships, and those touched by the gods. Tickles the same part of my brain that loves fantasy, only set in the world that was. You can see the evolution in Graham's writing since Black Ships and I'm happy to keep on following her down this path.
First things first: I've read this book without having read the first one, so some details may have been lost to me. Nonetheless I think that it can totally stand on its own and the story is perfectly understandable anyway.

I personally bought this book, because I buy every historical fiction book featuring Alexander the Great in a prominent role that looks appealing to me. I knew Alexander would be dead from the start, but also that there were going to be flashbacks.
I also knew that the main cha
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those Who'll Read Anything to Do with the Ancient World
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: A friend
I liked Graham's first novel, BLACK SHIPS--overall there I was impressed with how Graham drew from recent archeological and historic scholarship to bring to life the Late Bronze Age world--but I'm afraid I find STEALING FIRE less successful.

With historical fiction, I want to enter that other world, feel and think for a while as an Ancient Greek or Egyptian would. With fantasy, I want magic and world-building that places us in another world entirely, even if there's a historical basis. But STEAL
Carrie Slager
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-bought
I have some mixed feelings about the second book in Jo Graham’s so far awesome Numinous World series. I mean, I’ve already read Black Ships and Hand of Isis, which were both great. But I’m just not feeling this one.

Lydias was a great, well developed character. He had a fascinating past that made his chosen path feel a little more believable and his actions throughout the novel are fairly consistent. I like how we learn his tragic backstory little by little and it really does bring some depth to
Carol March
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stealing Fire by Jo Graham is the story of a fictional soldier who served with Alexander the Great, in Hephaistion’s Ile, as a member of the Companion Cavalry, on his sweep through Persia and beyond.
It follows Lydias, who was sold into slavery by his father and became a groom, as he escapes from his master when Hephaistion buys his favorite horse.

The story starts with the day of Alexander’s death and alternates between present and past, as we learn about the chaos that ensued after the death of
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The second book of the Numinous Series is narrated by Lydias, who was Gull in the Black Ships, and is in this life a slave turned soldier. It takes part in Alexander the Great's era and Lydias is one of his soldiers.
First I thought I wasn't going to enjoy this because it was so completely different than the setting from the first book and besides the main characters were all men. There was hardly a woman in the story besides the Goddess and a few wives. That's usually a reason for me to not lik
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Historical fiction with some fantasy elements. To be honest, the fantasy part of it was kind of not very well developed. Supernatural threats and situations are introduced here and there, and then mostly dropped or left dangling. But I felt that this was ok in this case, since the narrator is an uneducated former slave from the ancient Mediterranean. The half-baked fantasy world building (or I guess "numinous world," since that's what the series is called) might seem jarring to a modern reader o ...more
I did not enjoy this as much as Graham's first two novels. I think part of this is that she does not excel at writing male characters as well as female ones - at least not here. Lydias always felt feminine to me, which seems wholly at odds with being an ancient warrior.

Because of Lydias' background, there is less focus on the mystical or arcane in Stealing Fire, and I feel that is a negative point. Part of the appeal of the first two novels was their foreignness, a disconnect from a modern way o
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Wonderful. Different beat than Black Ships but as good for me. Of course, it's full of little Alexander things that are wonderful. If you are a fan of Mary Renault's Alexander, of Alexander history, Stealing Fire is fun. I like the "demi-teinte" rhythm of the narration. How Lydias' life is on pause since his wife and child passed and the most important person in his life, Hephaistion, is no more too. Getting Egypt free of Persian rule and helping Ptolemy becoming the ruler he is meant to be is a ...more
J. Else
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-egypt
Graham unveils the depth of her main character well. I think I also read hints to other stories upcoming? Graham is an excellent storyteller. At times, the minor characaters can get jumbled because tehre are so many of them and names from ancient times are hard to read and remember. Graham adds more in this book in terms of battle scenes. Overall, they have been hinted at or done away from the main characters in previous books because of the main characters role in society. Graham shows growth a ...more
Ann Hinch
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jo Graham has a way of presenting history of the Old World in a readable, modern voice while describing what things were like around the characters from historical accounts, yet adding fantasy elements as well. She always picks a sideline character to tell the story surrounding a famous figure or event, and it's usually before or after what we'd consider "the big event" we know about that person or thing.

In this novel, she uses a male POV for the first time, but there's still plenty of reference
Doug Matthews
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the first book of Graham's that I have read. I enjoyed her writing in this book and she particularly excels in her descriptions of battle, which are very lyrical.

I found her characters a little one-dimensional and lacking in uniqueness. I had a lot of trouble with the protagonist, Lydias, and his seeming confusion about his sexual identity. It just felt out of place in the story, and his sexual struggles seemed to be inserted in the most unlikely places.

The other problem I had was with
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it

This is great. Jo Graham has written three books and somehow I tripped over all of them. This is the story of Alexander the Great's solider Lydias. Lydias is charged by Ptolemy to steal Alexander's body to return it Egypt.

I've been trying for a long time to find a good historical fiction book starring Alexander to no avail. This is the closest I've come to.

It's often an incredible story. It's a story not for every one with New Age reincarnation and bi-sexuality. But hey, let's face it, ancient G
Jul 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
The time covered in this book are the three years after the death of Alexander the Great. The theft of Alexander's body and transport to Egypt are detailed. And the thwarting of the army that arrives to win it back. The army that is headed by the Regent to the heir, and the heir's mother, Roxanne, the first wife of Alexander.

Ptolemy and Lydias go to Egypt to secure the lands liberated by Alexander from the Persian Empire for the heir of Alexander. But the Gods are walking in Egypt, and they want
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I have yet to read the others in this series, but after this, I'm now eager to get my hands on them. This novel is classed as fantasy due to the presence of gods and goddesses interacting with mortals, but the author never plays fast and loose with the historical content. I'm no expert on the period, but there was nothing that jarred for me.

Jo Graham's prose is deceptively simple - she keeps description to a minimum but brings her characters and landscapes evocatively to life. I had vivid images
I enjoyed Graham's Stealing Fire, but not as much as her earlier Black Ships. As usual, the ancient world really came to life in her prose, and I loved the action sequences. But I didn't think the mystical sequences held together quite as well. While the ones in Black Ships, like the descent into the underworld, had a dreamlike, numinous quality that left decisions about their objective reality largely in the mind of the reader, in Stealing Fire we get Gods speaking in hard, scientific terms lik ...more
Dec 18, 2010 rated it liked it
I love the idea that we are following the same soul(s) throughout different time periods in these books - Gull/Charmian/Lydias and the people whose souls are interconnected with the Gull/Charmian/Lydias soul. This one is set right after the death of Alexander the Great. Once again a beautifully written book, but once again, I didn't quite connect with Lydias the way I did with Gull in the first book. It's interesting to see how different the same soul is as different people, and I look forward t ...more
Heather Layne
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
Another of her Numinous World books. Unlike Hand of Isis and Black Ships (the only other two of hers I've read--yet!), Stealing Fire is told almost as a frame narrative, or at least with the story jumping back and forth in time. I liked seeing her write a male character and think she did a good job. As usual, her historical accuracy is impeccable. I knew basically nothing about this time period (just after the death of Alexander the Great) but feel very informed after reading this book! Little d ...more
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my 3rd Jo Graham book (yes, I read them out of order and that works just fine!), and I wish she'd write more! It's the story of Lydias of Miletus, one of Alexander the Great's soldiers, originally a slave. The story takes place after Alexander's death, and incorporates enough history to make it believable. There is plenty of adventure (who steals Alexander's casket and how do they get it back, for example), love, friendship, faith and drama to keep anyone's attention, especially someone ...more
Hank Quense
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction novel deals with the events after the death of Alexander the Great. Upon his death Alexander's empire fell apart as the generals grabbed pieces of it to rule. The story is told through the eyes of Lydias. Once a slave, he runs away while still young and joins Alexander's army as a groom for cavalry horses. Over time, he rises to be a soldier, joins the Companions and ends up as a cavalry commander. After Alexander's death, Lydias throws his lot in with Ptolemy who seized ...more
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Homecoming - Looking Forward 1 8 May 07, 2010 04:13PM  

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Other books in the series

Numinous World (6 books)
  • Black Ships (Numinous World, #1)
  • Hand of Isis (Numinous World, #3)
  • The General's Mistress (Numinous World, #4)
  • The Emperor's Agent (Numinous World, #5)
  • The Marshal's Lover (Numinous World, #6)