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Campaign in the desert

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This novel looks at the historical effort undertaken by the Greeks to free Egypt from Persian rule, based on Thucydides' account. In 460 BC, Greeks joined forces – with the exception of the Spartans – to begin a military campaign in Egypt. Although they initially defeated the Persians, in the end, they did not manage to free Egypt.

Meanwhile, the demagogues in Athens started a war with Sparta, resulting in the recall of the brunt of the fighting force to Greece. Five thousand men stayed behind, but were forced to withdraw from Egypt when Persian reinforcements began to arrive. Their only route to safety is was to cross the desert and reach the Greek city of Cyrene, located on the shores of Libya.

Two Athenians undertake the responsibility of saving the Greek force – Aratos, an aristocrat, and Adrastos, a democrat. They are joined by two Spartan soldiers of fortune, the austere Photalkis and the buoyant Christimides.  Their journey into the desert begins, with the Libyans of Sais and their beautiful ambassador Nairet as their guide.

The two Athenian political rivals try to keep the Greeks united, but the political antagonism and differences between the alliances make the army seem like a seething cauldron ready to boil over. The immediate danger of the Persians pursuing them is what keeps the fragile peace between the men. And so, the two generals engage in discussions and reflections on the fate of man. The theories of Adrastos' friend Anaxagoras the philosopher and the Pythagorian wisdom behind the plays of Arastos' friend Aeschylus the playwright weigh heavily upon their thoughts.

At the same time, the love affair between Christimides the Spartan and Nairet creates a problem that will affect the fate and future of the Greeks. The Libyans, insulted by the foreign advances upon their ambassador, leave the Greeks in the desert and head to the Siwa oasis with the intention of condemning the couple on charges of sacrilege.

The Greeks head for the coast, but they are met with a coordinated attack by the Phoenicians and Persians, which leaves their army utterly decimated. The few survivors finally make it to Cyrene, but Christimides and Adrastos do not go home to Greece, opting instead to head for Sicily. Christimides does so because he knows that the Spartans will never approve of his marriage to the Libyan Nairet, while Adrastos knows that the Athenians will lay the blame for the army's destruction upon him and unjustly convict him to cover up their culpability.

The elderly Aeschylus, also living in Sicily, recounts his own personal drama to Adrastos. The last words that Aeschylus says to him while on his deathbed convince the Athenian general to return home and face his fate.

Soul Twinkles, 410 pages

Antoniadis Antonis

Antonis Antoniadis was born in Germany. He graduated from the Belgrade School of Physical Therapy; yet, as is the case with many scientists, he never exercised his specialty, having been won over by writing.

He worked as an editor-in-chief and director of numerous magazines. In 2003 he organized the production of a historical TV series, which was transmitted on public television. He has contributed texts in many collective books. His own published books are:  Delphi: The Political Plans of the Priesthood, Strange Narrations by Ancient Greeks. Today, he lives and works in Drama, northern Greece.

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