Forge, Feb 2003, 25.95, 384 pp.
About three centuries BC, the merchants Menedemos and Sostratos sail the Aphrodite across the Aegean Sea from Rhodes to deliver cargo in Athens. Menedemos captains the vessel while his cousin Sostratos handles more of the scholarly side of the business. Of course the two bicker over everything with Sostratos being a back seat driver and Menedemos a pseudo intellect.
On this particular journey, the argumentative duo obtains the skull of a strange looking bird that Sostratos believes is a gryphon, which proves the existence of the mythical beast. Menedemos dreams of receiving plenty of loot at an auction as he figures the philosophy schools will compete to buy the gryphon skull. As the relatives argue, fuss, and fight over the bird, they must also deal with the typical hazards of the open sea ranging from pirates to warring countries to spoiled aristocratic relatives, but mostly they contend with one another.
THE GRYPHON'S SKULL is a delightful ancient historical novel that brings to life Greece through the eyes of a strong cast, especially the delightful lead characters. The story line is action-packed, filled with real tidbits and persona, but also contains much amusement especially when the cousins bicker, banter, and bother one another. Fans will relish this trek and want to read the combatant cousin's first novel, OVER THE WINE DARK SEA.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner