Nico’s back! And he’s even funnier and more interesting than ever. We met our intrepid, bumbling, loveable young hero from ancient Greece in Gary Corby’s The Pericles Commission, the first in a series about Nicoloas, the young man determined to live a life of intrigue as an investigator rather than follow in his father’s footsteps as a sculptor.
In the Ionia Sanction, Nico initially bungles a murder investigation, angering his patron Pericles, and travels to Ephesus in a last-ditch effort to get to the bottom of the case. This set up allows us to spend some time with him (and his brilliant little brother, Socrates) in Greece, which he evokes with fascinating detail (including a slave auction).
In Ephesus, Nico tracks down his love, the brilliant Diotima, who is serving Artemis as a priestess in the famous gigantic temple there. I won’t say more mostly because, honestly, I don’t like reviews that detail the plot for me (those are the bits I skip when I’m reading reviews), so I’ll just focus on my review: I loved it!
So. Much. Fun.
That’s a huge feat in and of itself, don’t you think? I mean, how many writers could actually make ancient Greece at the dawn of democracy “fun?” Yet Corby succeeds masterfully by balancing intrigue with both physical and intellectual humor. I found The Ionia Sanction even funnier than The Pericles Commission, which says a lot. But the humor wasn’t at the expense of characterization–rather, it enriched it and made Nico and Diotima even more likeable.
The politics with Persia was fascinating and I really like the way that Corby ramped up the intensity with Diotima with some very interesting…er, scenes. And, of course, the twist at the end is both surprising and satisfying. It feels like Corby is hitting his stride with his second book, which bodes well for the series. I am already looking forward to the next one.