In A Bloodline of Kings, a historical epic about Philip of Macedon, the story begins with one birth (that of Philip himself) and ends with another (his son Alexander, later called the Great). In the intervening pages, Sundell takes us through the life of an extraordinary man, Philippos of the Makedones, whose brilliant military career during the 4th century BC was overshadowed by that of his more famous son.
It is Philippos who earns Macedon a place on the political playing field of the ancient Hellenes and makes it the equal of powerful city-states such as Athens and Thebes. This is not only a military saga, however, for the women are as strong and ambitious as the men. In fact, some of the most emotional moments occur as Kleopatra, former Queen of the Makedones and Philippos' great-grandmother, secretly trains her young charge to be a future leader, not knowing that his older brothers' early deaths will make her wishes come true.
The author's research is well evident; its thoroughness is, in fact, astonishing. As the novel does not always wear its research lightly, newcomers to the period may find it intellectually challenging, but the education they receive as a result will make their efforts worthwhile.
Because it's been a while since I first read it, I thumbed through it again to see if I still had the same opinion. One thing I neither remembered nor remarked on back then: it's written in the present tense. This didn't feel artificial or faddish then and it didn't after a reread of the first chapter. It surprises me that I didn't mention it in my original review, but I guess that means that it didn't bother me. Also, it's self-published, and slightly more expensive than other hardcovers of similar length, but there's a lot of action, characters, and story packed into its near-500 pages. For readers who enjoy well-rounded depictions of the ancient world, this one's worth seeking out.
Thomas Sundell's A Bloodline of Kings was published by Crow Woods in 2002 at $28.50 (484pp, hardbound). It's still in print and available.