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Over the Wine-Dark Sea (Hellenic Traders, #1)
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Over the Wine-Dark Sea

(Hellenic Traders #1)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  244 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Menedemos was born with enough confidence for three men, and he can switch from threats to charm and back again. But he can also be foolhardy--for instance, risking everything for the chance at another man's wife. Sostratos can perform unheard-of feats with numbers, he knows the old histories and the natural sciences--but he lacks the common touch and, Menedemos would say, ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published November 18th 2002 by Tor Books (first published July 13th 2001)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  244 ratings  ·  32 reviews


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Jane
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jane by: Martin Lee
3.5 out of 5. 310 BC--nearly a generation after the death of Alexander the Great, while his generals are still squabbling about how to divide Alexander's Empire. Interesting and readable humorous novel of two cousins, Menedemos and Sostrates: one a sea captain and the other a quartermaster-cum-accountant, on a trading voyage from Rhodes--Greek island-hopping to the Italian mainland: Taras and other cities, buying and selling goods throughout their voyage: Chian wine, Coan silk, papyrus, ink, AND ...more
MB (What she read)
The book's plot itself was rather boring to me, but I don't think I've read anything else except for Tom Holt's Goatsong: A Novel of Ancient Athens and the rest of his historicals that gave me such 'a feel' for living in the ancient world.
Araka Schroeder
Asked friends for historical fiction recommendations and was told that Harry Turtledove did a great job of rewriting history. I decided to give one of his books a try.

Had a hard time getting into this book, slow beginning. The writing style turned me off from the start. I felt like I was reading a textbook. I got the idea that our good friend Harry was more interested in showing off all the research he did to make sure his book was historically accurate than telling a story. There was a lot of
...more
Krys
Jun 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Smith
Nov 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When he first began writing fiction a couple of decades ago, Harry Turtledove (who is Turteltaub in his everyday suit) was quite good. A Byzantine scholar, he showed a knack for straight historicals (especially the excellent Justinian) as well as alternate history yarns with an eastern Mediterranean setting. Then he hit the big time with Guns of the South, and now he has way too many interminable series going at once, and his talent -- while considerable -- has turned out to be a finite quantity ...more
Eric Mesa
May 06, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the second time I've read this book, the first time being nearly 20 years ago when it first came out. A few key bits had stuck with me, like Menedemos' womanizing and a battle at sea. But after 20 years, most of the details had faded, so it was almost like reading it anew.

As a history geek, I found it a lot of fun to read historical fiction that isn't set in one of the traditional time periods like Victorian England or Napolean's Reign. The two characters also make great foils for each
...more
Sean
Three and a half stars. Post-Alexander Greece, but just. Two cousins from Rhodes sail about the Greek world, selling dye and wine and peacocks. Turtledove is your pervy classics professor, stiff and ill-suited for writing a novel, but god damn does he know everything about Ancient Greece. He knows about sitos and opson, about the symposium, about naval craft and practice, about politics, about trade, about the oppression of women, about slavery, about numismatics, about seafood and the rare bite ...more
Mark Jensen
A typical Harry Turtledove historical fiction novel, albeit under the Turteltraub pen name. His stories tend to follow a pattern--introspective characters who shrug a lot, both physically and mentally, when thinking about the things they are doing. This one concerns some B.C. Greek traders caught up in some historical events including a war and a solar eclipse, not too long after the demise of Alexander the Great. Oh, and they are trading peacocks, peahens, and peafowl which takes up a ...more
Mark
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Two stars demands an explanation. Simply put, the story didn't manage to sufficiently engage my interest and I have to confess I struggled to keep going. It's just one of those things, no novel works for everyone. That said, Over the Wine-Dark Sea is a well-written book, with convincing and developed characters, and it effortlessly immerses the reader in the world of ancient Greece. The novel offers a convincing and clearly well-researched window on this period of history. Two stars for me ...more
Justin Robinson
About halfway through I realized this silly thing was going to be about two chuckleheads selling peacocks to Italians. It's not terribly written, though Turtledove does lean pretty heavily on some pet words and phrases, but I struggle to see the point. The fact that there's 5 of these things makes me wonder what the publisher could possibly be thinking. "Can they sell a peacock to Vikings? Find out next book!"
Chang
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dull. Turtledove knows his Greek history, but neither the characters or the setting come alive. The characters don't change or learn much of anything. The places are just names.

I do like how it really hammered home just how prevalent slavery was--and how female slaves were casually used by the free men; most historical fiction gloss over that aspect of ancient history.
Peg
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Historical novel takes place in 310BC and chronicles the adventures of a trading ship from the Greek city of Rhodes as it travels to Italy and back. The captain is an actual historical character. The historical stuff is interesting, learning about ancient Greek life. The protagonists, the captain and his cousin, are not terrible sympathetic characters.
Liz V.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the aftermath of Alexander the Great's death, Rhodes was able to free itself, but the rest of the world--as Greeks knew it--was convulsed in wars amongst Alexander's generals, as well as the pirates left unpoliced and a young but strengthening Rome. Into this tenuous area venture two Rhodian cousins on their fathers' merchant ship.
Lori
A merchant galley travels and trades from Rhodes to Sicily in 310 BC. It's about 15 years after Alexander the Great died and his generals are still fighting, plus there are pirates. A good description of the life and times.
Jason Braida
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five stars...a lot of historical detail but the plot drags. Almost a travelogue. Obviously Turtledove did a great deal of research. I enjoyed it but am unsure if I will continue with the series.
Megan
I didn't feel the story ever built to anything special, but was a good romp all the way through. Just normal people leading (relatively) normal lives. I felt immersed in the time and place.
Jim
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read.
Michael Jarrell
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good historical fiction novel of ancient Greece. Turtledove did as fine a job as can be asked of an author on this one.
Sean
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, greece
A solid historical novel showcasing Turtledove's knowledge of the subject to hand. I quite enjoyed it.
Burt
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HN Turtletaub is, of course, Harry Turtledove, of alternate history fame. Under the Turtletaub name he writes historical fiction, principally the adventures of Menedemos and his cousin Sostratos, ship captain and traders on "the wine dark sea." The novels are not exactly plot-free, but they contain a wealth of information about life in the 4th century BCE. I just love them and eat up all the detail on the history of the day. I don't think many others do, but if you like this era, like to read ...more
Mike
Feb 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like books set in past or even alternate times and settings. This book easily fit within that realm. There also promised to be a fair amount of opportunity to observe past rites and customs as presented by the author. However, it seemed as though the author felt it necessary to over explain things - resulting in forced dialogue between characters.

Perhaps the book was meant for younger audiences, but I appreciate having some control of discovery or the author writing in way that will reveal
...more
Susan
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another era of history I am unfamiliar with - starting about 13 years after the death of Alexander the Great. This is when the Hellene world is starting to fragment with Alexander's marshalls fighting in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Carthaginians are fighting the Hellene colony at Syracuse and the Italian tribes are fighting among themselves. The Romans are not yet dominant.

The life of sea traders isn't easy. But Menedemos and his cousin Sostratos have quite a time - introducing peafowl to
...more
Colin
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk-food-lit
This book was loaned by my friend Chris Swanson. A very enjoyable read for me, since it was a highly detailed bit of historical fiction set in the Hellenistic Greek world. The plot rambled a bit, featuring the voyages of traders from Rhodes, but wasn't bad either. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the period . . . also, I love that the author note that the translations of quotations from Greek literature *are his own*. An author that translates his own Greek? Gotta love that!
Don
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
It is an interesting way of portraying an average man's perspective on life during the time after the death of Alexander The Great, with the generals fighting and scheming, and the little men caught in the middle. Not that life wasn't already a difficult proposition, especially for a tradesman of the sea, before the knowledge of celestial and magnetic navigation had made the notion of aiming for a destination with any hope of accuracy actually possible.

On to the second book....
Steve
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting historically accurate novel

This was an interesting story of a trading voyage accurately sandwiched into a fascinating time in ancient history. It was quite different from this excellent writer's usual work.
Wendie Schneider
Interest ing story...lots of history

I love sea stories. This one gives good descriptions of life around 400AD from a seafaring perspective. The trading of valuable cargo, the negotiations, and the. troubles of sailing port to port was interesting.
Trena Pennington
Aug 29, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
enough already with the peacocks--
Patty
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great period details and setting but the story dragged for me, and I did not seem to enjoy it as much as my husband did.
Wulf
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not your typical action novel, but an interesting read nevertheless. More "slice of life" than "mythical hero"; and you might just learn something along the way.
Dan
Oct 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read for ancient history fans. Really gives an interesting look at ancient Mediterritan in an accessible for historically sound context.
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Hellenic Traders (4 books)
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