Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Memnon of Rhodes (375-333 BCE) walked in the footsteps of giants. As a soldier, sailor, statesman, and general, he was, in the words of Diodorus of Sicily, “outstanding in courage and strategic grasp.” A contemporary of Demosthenes and Aristotle, Memnon rose from humble origins to command the whole of western Asia in a time of strife and slaughter. To his own people, he was a traitor, to his rivals, a mercenary. But, to the King of Kings, his majesty Darius III of Persia, Memnon was the one man capable of defending Asia Minor from the rising power of the barbaric Macedonians. In a war pitting Greek against Greek, Memnon proved his quality beyond measure. His enemies fought for glory and gold; Memnon fought for something more, for loyalty, for honor, and for duty. He fought for the love of Barsine, a woman of remarkable beauty and grace. Most of all, he fought for the promise of peace. Through the deathbed recollections of a mysterious woman, the life of Memnon unfolds with brilliant clarity. It is a record of his triumphs and tragedies, his loves and losses, and of the determination that drove him to stand against the most renowned figure of the ancient world—the ambitious young conqueror called Alexander the Great.

503 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Scott Oden

24 books315 followers
Scott Oden is a bestselling author of historical fantasy and sword-and-sorcery. Since his debut in 2005, his books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist; he has been an Amazon Editor’s Pick and has been nominated for a Gemmell Award. His work has been endorsed by such preeminent authors as Steven Pressfield, David Anthony Durham, and John Gwynne.

Scott lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with his lovely wife, Shannon, and a variety of dogs -- all of them neurotic and prone to dancing like no one’s watching.

Before turning his hand to writing, Scott worked the usual slate of odd jobs, from delivering pizza to stocking shelves at a local grocery. In his spare time, he likes table-top roleplaying games, reading, and making the occasional bracelet from old stone beads. He dreams of running away from reality and living in a Hobbit hole . . .

If you want to know more, please visit Scott’s website at https://scottoden.wordpress.com/, where you can follow his blog and be there when he finally takes the plunge and creates a mailing list.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
223 (33%)
4 stars
261 (39%)
3 stars
126 (19%)
2 stars
35 (5%)
1 star
15 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
Profile Image for Clemens Schoonderwoert.
1,088 reviews79 followers
December 22, 2021
Read this book in 2011, and its a standalone book about the life, battles, loves and losses of a man called Memnon.

His life expands from 375 until 333 BC, and the story will tell us about the man, Memnon, his every move and his heroics and failures as a soldier, sailor, statesman and general.

Greek by origin, but early on he is fighting and ruling Asia Minor for the King of Kings of Persia, Darius III, and so gaining the animosity from other famous Greeks like, Demosthenes and Aristotle.

When the Macedonians start to invade, under their young ambitious conqueror Alexander the Great, the East and in particular Persia, Memnon will be at hand to stop foer a while the marauding forces of Macedonians.

Memnon not just fought for war and destruction, and glory and gold like the others, but he fought for peace and loyalty, honour and duty.

Trough the deathbed recollections by a mysterious woman, Memnon's life, triumphs, tragedies, loves and losses will come to the fore in a most remarkable and inspiring fashion.

What is to follow is an amazing historical tale about a great man called, Memnon, and all his abilities and failures as a man of honour, that drove him to stand in the end against the conqueror of the East, Alexander the Great, and all this brought to us by the author in a fantastic fashion.

Highly recommended, for this is a fabulous tale about a great Greek man called, Memnon, and that's why I like to call this excellent book: "A Glorious Memnon"!
Profile Image for Terri.
529 reviews255 followers
July 15, 2010
This is one of those books that just darts under your eyes and is finished before you know it. Most of the 688 pages went so smoothly and easily that it was only until around page 450 that I started to get bored. And then hooked in again. And then bored.
Boredom aside, though, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was only mildly let down in the end when Oden's smooth easy style got a bit dense and dull. That's why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. I would still recommend Memnon to anyone and suspect the boredom I experienced with it in the end was partly my fault. I had expected something else I think, and we all know the error of doing that.
Memnon is an entirely likeable character. A mild mannered, gentle man who breaks the butch, arrogant mould often found in lead male characters in male authored books. It was refreshing.
The love relationship between Memnon and Barsine never drew me in, 1. because I don't need romance in the books I read, and 2. because they were closely related and that was kind of gross. I am sure you can guess that it was more the latter than the former.

If you like your ancient greeks served up educated, stately and starving for battle at every turn, then Memnon is for you.
Profile Image for Jane.
1,536 reviews173 followers
May 2, 2016
This novel is a fictionalization of the life of Memnon of Rhodes, ancient Greek warrior and opponent of Alexander the Great. Memnon lost his life from a wound suffered at Halicarnassus. The old saying seems to be true: "History is written by the victors." From this novel, I certainly got a much different view of Alexander than I've ever read before.

I was introduced to the ancient historical figure of Memnon of Rhodes, about whom I knew only the name, if that. The author did a very good job in fleshing out Memnon into a well-rounded, compassionate and likeable figure, if perhaps sometimes a little too 21st-century in his feelings and emotions.

The author says very little is known of Memnon. To fill in lacunae in knowledge of the man, he admits to inventing a great deal of the story--plausible though it is. The novel uses the device of a writer, Ariston, visiting a mysterious woman calling herself Melpomene [the Muse of tragedy, obviously a pseudonym] and between intervals in which her health fails more and more, she relates Memnon's life story to Ariston, so through his "Rhodian History" Memnon will not be forgotten.

The politics were interesting, the battle scenes and planning thereof were exciting, and the epilogue very poignant. I enjoyed the author's "historical note" and the three appendices, especially the timeline. I would have appreciated a separate glossary of the Greek terms, although they were explained briefly in the text to the reader with a sharp eye. The author probably thought that was enough. A simple labelled map of the geographical area concerned would have been helpful. I would have liked a few simple line drawings of how the soldiers [both Greek and Persian] were dressed and of civilians wearing the Greek clothing--chlamys, himation, chiton, etc. The book read very easily; I recommend it highly.
Profile Image for Vincent Darlage.
Author 23 books46 followers
May 17, 2011
I was really impressed with Scott Oden's "Memnon." First, his combat scenes are incredible. I felt like I was there. I have never said this about another author before, and it feels weird writing it, but it's true: Scott Oden writes mass battle scenes better than Robert E. Howard. He engages all the senses in his writing in a magnificent and realistic manner. I didn't so much as read this novel as experience it. I really felt like I was there, side-by-side with Memnon.

It was written with an epic scope, spanning much of Memnon's life, with left the reader with large gaps in his history, but that only added to the realism - as though Memnon and I had seperated for a while to do other things, then got back together later. I have only had a couple of writers able to create that kind of experience for me, so Scott Oden is rare company as far as I am concerned.

That the author was able to do so much with so little historical information is a testament to his skill at both history and fiction.
Profile Image for Bruce.
Author 19 books12 followers
August 21, 2010
Much has been written about Alexander the Great, but little is known of his first real opponent, Memnon of Rhodes. Scott Oden takes what little knowledge we know of the man and uses it as a springboard to weave a deeply compelling account of his life. The author deftly handles the intricate politics of the Greek city-states dotting the coast of Asia Minor, city-states that were part of the vast Persian Empire, and counter balances it with the rise of Macedon under Phillip II and the ambitions of his more famous son. While an enjoyable read, and extremely well-researched, I was hoping for more time spent on the actual confrontations between Memnon and Alexander. While part of the final act, it felt all too brief. But it's a minor quibble. The book is highly recommended for the nature of the subject matter, if not the subject itself.
Profile Image for K. Anthony.
Author 6 books39 followers
July 13, 2012
I am picky about "historical fiction" titles... Most are just action adventure stories crammed into a historical setting, but Memnon doesn't do that. I easily imagined, no, became one its citizens and thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Profile Image for Jeanne.
Author 4 books60 followers
May 15, 2019
Still one of my favorite military historical about Alexander the Great by looking through the lens backwards. How was Alexander viewed *in Persia*?
Profile Image for Scott Marlowe.
Author 16 books133 followers
April 6, 2020


*** This review originally appeared on Out of this World Reviews. ***

I love historical fiction almost more than fantasy. Pick the right time period and the two aren’t that dissimilar. It’s because of this love of the genre that I set my standards very high when it comes to this sort of fiction. It is, by its nature, fiction, but that doesn’t mean it can supersede the need for it to also be realistic to the time period in which it’s set. That’s one of the hardest things about historical fiction: the author must work within a pre-defined framework to some extent, including historical accuracy and time period authenticity, yet when you take a character like Memnon of Rhodes, so little is known about the character himself that the artist can paint with a very wide brush when it comes to filling in the details. What is known about Memnon is that he was a Rhodian Greek born in 380 BC and that he spent the pinnacle of his life in service to the Persian Empire. This might fly in the face of logic since the Greeks repelled Persian invasions first at Marathon and later at Thermopylae, but those events transpired roughly 100 years earlier. In Memnon’s time, alliances have shifted and cultures mingled to the point where Memnon and his brother, Mentor, find themselves serving multiple masters throughout their lives, and seldom is that person Greek.

I mentioned from the outset of this review that I hold historical fiction to a high standard. Memnon met and even exceeded this level with its characters, story, and writing. It really hit all the high points for me. Memnon is a well-thought out character who deserves to take center stage. Yet he is surrounded by such a rich supporting cast who are as diverse and full of depth as Memnon himself. The story is perhaps the most interesting part of the novel. Again, we know when Memnon was born, when he died (including the circumstances around his death, though, admittedly, even those are open to question), and that he eventually faced none other than Alexander the Great when the young Macedonian king began his campaign to conquer Persia. What we don’t know is most of what happened to Memnon between those points in time and that’s where Oden really shines.

The story begins long after Memnon has died, when a young poet and scholar named Ariston is mysteriously summoned to an estate called The Oaks. Upon his arrival, Ariston is introduced to a woman named Melpomene. Melpomene has a story to tell, one which not surprisingly is about Memnon.

At first, Ariston brushes off Melpomene’s request, but she wins him over with her passion, and so begins a telling of the story of Memnon of Rhodes that otherwise might have been erased by history and the cruelness of victors. We are taken to Rhodes, where a young Memnon seeks independence from his father, Timocrates, and his parental expectations. A young thrill-seeker of sorts at this point in his life, Memnon’s plans to sail away onboard the Circe go awry when a political uprising results in the death of his father. Forced to flee, Memnon begins a life of service to others as a mercenary. At first bold but uncertain of himself, Memnon over time will become a formidable soldier and an excellent tactician, so much so that he is eventually entrusted with the defense of the Persian Empire against Alexander and his Macedonian army.

Along the way, Memnon forms many bonds and relationships and even makes his fair share of enemies. Standing with him always is his brother, Mentor, who as the older brother has his own path to follow. Yet even when the two are not physically alongside one another, their bond, born of blood and a shared exile, is unbreakable. Memnon is an honorable man. His word, once given, is insoluble, and his loyalty unshakeable. As a reader, he’s a character I could easily get behind as he embodies so many strong attributes. Yet for all of his strengths, he does have weaknesses. Chief amongst these is uncertainty born from simple inexperience. Fortunately for him, he has others to lean on during these times to see him through.

An interesting aspect of Memnon’s life is that at one point he is actually in service to King Philip of Macedon where he observes Alexander’s early genius as he is tutored under Aristotle. Even then Memnon recognizes the danger Alexander represents should be ever come into his own.

Eventually, tides shift, and Memnon and Mentor’s exile is lifted. They leave Philip’s service and return to their home to claim what is theirs under Persian law. While Greek, the brothers are aligned with the Persians through ties established by their sister’s marriage to Artabazus, a Persian aristocrat. Peace, ever fleeting, is short-lived as Philip unexpectedly dies. The enemy who is known becomes one far more dangerous in the form of Alexander, who becomes King of Macedonia and soon begins a campaign of conquest that will see him facing off against our titular character. Given Alexander’s success, it’s not that difficult to figure out Memnon’s ultimate fate (though I will say that I guarantee you it is not what you’re thinking). From the historical record, such as it is, we know that Memnon is perhaps the only military leader who gave Alexander pause. Yet there can be no delusions about who ultimately comes out on top. Still, it was with a heavy heart that I continued to read, drawing ever closer to what I figured had to be an inescapable conclusion.

What unfolds is indeed a series of battles that I can only describe as spectacular and right up there with some of the best battles I’ve had the pleasure to read in historical fiction (think Bernard Cornwell, surely one of the best of them all). Memnon gives Alexander such grief I imagine Alexander remembered their contests right up until his dying days.

Memnon isn’t all about battles, though. There’s plenty of political intrigue, fleeting alliances, and a love story that has the potential to split Memnon and Mentor apart. The woman who attracts each of their interests is Barsine. Bound by duty, she makes great sacrifices to ensure alliances and that their lives remain safe and secure. At first a seemingly fleeting character in the narrative, as she appears in and out of Memnon’s life, she becomes a central figure in the story over time and perhaps, looking back over the totality of the book, takes on an even larger role than Memnon himself.

Memnon by Scott Oden earns a solid five rocket rating from me. The characters, writing, and story are all superb. Do yourself a favor and add this one to your reading list.
Profile Image for Clay Kallam.
873 reviews24 followers
August 23, 2019
This is another book that really doesn't quite fit the five-star system -- I'd say 3.75 (B+), but only that low because it's pretty clear how things will turn out about three-quarters of the way through the book.

That said, Scott Oden has done extensive research for this historical novel set during the life of Alexander the Great (a period of history I am extremely familiar with), and he does an excellent job of bringing the Hellenistic world to life. His battle scenes are appropriately gritty, and Memnon, unlike fictional heroes, is prevented by history from winning them all.

The book is framed as the story of Memnon's life told by another historical character, and all in all, it works very well. Only the exigencies of sticking to Memnon's actual story limit the possibilities, and thus the narrative isn't quite as satisfying as pure fiction might be.
Profile Image for Richard.
568 reviews39 followers
April 15, 2018
Standard by the book historical fiction. Equal parts action, romance, and intrigue. I'll be checking out Scott Oden's other books.
1 review
August 11, 2014
For those who have decent knowledge about this period (the world before and during Alexander the Great's empire), I truly recommend you this book. The historical accuracy is very satisfying, and the parts that Scott Oden made up make sense with what happened in the past: both Memnon and Mentor had great talents and skills (and that's what they were in the past, trustworthy generals that gave their adversaries really hard time), so they should have a father that has such talents to pass down the quality to the brothers; Barsine may have escaped death during the execution of Alexander IV; Alexander didn't take Barsine as his wife because of being the runner-up in this affair; and so on.
I enjoyed the interludes even better than the main story, they show Barsine's feelings and her devotion to Memnon after all these years. After all, both Memnon and Alexander were talented but ill-fated generals:
- If Memnon survived and defeated Alexander at his very capital, Pella, Alexander will be forced to cancel his campaign, thus preventing the destruction of the Achaemenid Empire, what's more...
- If Alexander lived longer to consolidate his power in the new-found Empire, there would be no successors that plagued the eastern lands as they did in history, the period after his conquest was a bigger mess than it already had been.
And what's more, if Memnon survived, none of the latter would have happened.

The battle scenes and action were absolutely well-depicted, however the action could be a bit gross because of the gore and stuff like that described. The political intrigues were even better, I liked Mentor's plan with the Great King and how Memnon lured the Assos eunuch to a trap.
Overall, even if you know nothing of this period, you should give it a try, if you don't know words like chiton or amphora , you can look them up online, they were real ancient Greek words.
Profile Image for David Usharauli.
134 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2016
Almost everyone heard about Alexander the Great but very few people are familiar with his military adversaries during his conquest of Persian Empire.

One of the those military leaders from Persian side was a man called Memnon of Rhodes. He was a Greek subject of Persian Empire.

We know little about Memnon except that he was a professional soldier and many believed he was the only person who could have stopped rapid advance of Macedonian Forces. However, Alexander's military fortune was on the rise. Memnon died soon after invasion from the wounds he received during the siege of the city of Halicarnassus. Most of the cities and Greek states in Asia Minor joined Alexander's side, thus protecting his supply chain and allowing him to focus on further invasion.

posted by David Usharauli

Profile Image for John Warren.
193 reviews3 followers
January 31, 2014
enjoyed this book about memnon of rodes. there is not alot of info on memnon in history books only that he fought against alexander the great. what i have read about him in other books dont quite grasp his character and his life, although this is historical fiction the writer does a fine job in making memnon a honorable man. mr oden battle scenes are remarkable it actually makes u feel like u are there especially the siege of Halicarnassus, which by all historical accounts was a alexander victory in that he took the city but mr oden deflects from the actually taking of the city and turns it around that memnon gave the city to alexander with the cost of his macedonias blood.

i look forward to reading more books by mr oden
Profile Image for Megan.
1,487 reviews18 followers
February 12, 2016
The history and historical detail of this book were both really excellent -- the author made the world and the times come alive. A few plot developments weren't entirely clear, but this is expected given the times. My only problem with the book was the number of things that were easy to forget -- Memnon had grudges with different people that developed early and then nothing happened for awhile, and when he came back to those people, I had no idea what was wrong (and I did already know much of the history). Otherwise, great book!
198 reviews2 followers
October 15, 2017
Great book!!!! I like all of Oden's books so far!!
243 reviews
September 1, 2018

Well written tale of a little known character in ancient history.Well known legends slip in and out of narrative shame our hero did.
Author 3 books1 follower
October 21, 2021
Well-researched and fascinating, this was a great read of a historical character with whom I wasn't as familiar. The story begins slow, but picks up soon enough. Since I'm very interested in this period of history, I was enthralled when different personages were announced such as Kersebleptes and Spithridates.

There were some areas of improvement
- Some major historic points were kind of let downs in terms of drama. For example, when Alexander III takes over for Philip II. I also felt underwhelmed at Memnon's death.
- There's a number of grammatical errors
- The dialog didn't seem realistic. Many characters sounded the same, and many passages are too long.

That being said, the book is enjoyable to read, and I had a difficult time putting it down at times.
Profile Image for Sandra Rugina.
11 reviews7 followers
January 12, 2023
I really enjoyed reading this book.
Whether you know a lot or very little of Ancient Greece, this is a great novel. The history, lifestyle or the time, the descriptions and the battles are very well put together. The pace of the writing is great and the descriptions are really vivid.
I grew to really like the main character, Memnon of Rhodes, one of Alexander the Great's first enemies. We don't see much of Alexander himself, but the book is true to the history to the extent which is known about Memnon himself.
As a personal note, I really liked that the author did not describe in too much detail the blood and gore, but the battles were indeed violent and well written.
Profile Image for David Geissler.
64 reviews17 followers
January 3, 2019
This was a decent read about a minor character that stood in the way of Alexander the Great early in his campaign. Most of the historical fiction i have read so far has been focused on European conquest. It was interesting to read about a different region of the world.

I liked the line "men forever linked by the poetic bond of shared hardship."
November 12, 2021
A life of great promise.

Memnon comes across as a man very much in the shadow of his older brother Mentor until the latter's death in 340BC. The Macedonian invasion of Asia is the making of Memnon as a great strategist. His death curtailed the most serious threat to Alexander's ambitions.
Profile Image for Kelly.
789 reviews
June 5, 2018
Interesting to learn about history from the side of the people fighting against Alexander the Great.
Profile Image for Masen Production.
131 reviews2 followers
October 17, 2013
“This is the story of Memnon of Rhodes, the man who was a nemesis for Alexander. He was a Greek mercenary who worked for the Persian king. He married a Persian princess Barsine who later was the muse, concubine, mistress of Alexander. This is a fictional representation of his story from Barsine point of view. Memnon, throughout his life fought the odds; he was the only man who could have stopped Alexander from his conquest. He finally succumbed to his wounds from the war and thus Alexander could live his dreams. When Alexander invades Asia Minor, the Persian King Darius III retains Memnon, the foreign mercenary "with the powers of a Persian general... to repel the Macedonians." It's a spectacular battle that has dire consequences for Memnon. Historians have paid scant attention to Memnon of Rhodes, the author has recreated a hero who time has etched out of its memory. Simply a fabulous read. ”
462 reviews
May 27, 2011
The supposed life of Memnon of Rhodes, the commander of the Greek mercenaries who opposed Alexander the Great when he invaded Persia.

As the author admits, much of the earlier events are invented out of whole cloth. While an intersting read, the characters somehow seem too "modern" in their actions and conduct. The characters' motivation is also opaque. It is not clear why some of the betrayals took place. Also, the love affair seemed very atypical given the restrictions that would have been imposed on the female members of a descendant of Persian royalty.

Just ok
Profile Image for Ali Muhammad.
9 reviews19 followers
June 11, 2012
Banyak buku bercerita ttg Alexander the Great, tetapi kelihatannya ini satu-satunya yang bercerita tentang musuh besar Alexander, Memnon of Rhodes. Cara bercerita Scott Oden bagus sekali, dia berhasil menampilkan tokoh antagonis seperti Memnon menjadi tokoh yang bisa dikagumi. Kombinasi dari Kecerdasan seorang jendral ahli strategi dan pelaut kawakan menjadikan Memnon batu sandungan sesungguhnya bagi ambisi Alexander.

If only Memnon had not died of disease, Alexander might not be able to invade Persia, and the history could be written in the opposite direction.
418 reviews2 followers
May 21, 2015
I was impressed with the author's ability to create an engaging historical fiction of the life of Memnon. The book exceeded my expectations. The story didn't lag or inject extraneous elements that would have detracted from the story. He provides vivid descriptions of battle that are consistent with other stories and historical works of that period.
The story flows smoothly and it is an effortless reading experience. I had difficulty putting it down for any length of time and thoroughly enjoyed the book from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Olga.
11 reviews
May 28, 2022
This book is the story of Memnon, one of the major asversaries of Alexander the Great in Asia. It was interesting to read the story of his conquests from a new angle. This is a well-written and engaging tale of war as well as love. On the downside, the major characters - Memnon, Barsine, Artabazus - felt too perfect: intelligent, just, heroic, benevolent. I prefer characters who are more realistically flawed. Nevertheless, I greatly enjoyed reading it and can recommend it to fans of historical fiction.
January 18, 2011
2.5 stars.

I had high hopes for Memnon, unfortunately it wasn't as good as i had hoped. The writing was pretty good but i found that the characters were dry and hard to make a connection with. It was one of those books that stayed at the same level of intrigue throughout, it's unfortunate because the story line had so much potential to drag you in. Worth a read but nothing your going to get hooked on.
Profile Image for Shane.
Author 5 books14 followers
February 22, 2013
I enjoyed "Memnon", although it was not a perfect read.
The action was frequent and exciting, the real hallmark of Oden's writing.
I did think some of the places and terms used required more explanation than that given. I consider myself a man who has a reasonable background knowledge of this time period, but I found myself lost a few times.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.