4 Star, Fiction, Historical, LGBTQ+, November '20, Reviews, The Ancient World

City of Bronze, City of Silver Review

I know it has been a month since my last post so thank you for your patience- applying to university is stressful and quite energy consuming. I might do a little life update soon, but for now I want to review a book that I was kindly sent in exchange for an honest review. The ebook has been on my device for a while but I finally decided to read it and I was NOT disappointed- I finished it within a few days.

431 BC. Greece is torn apart by war. The city states split into leagues: one headed by the militarized Sparta, the other by the sophisticated Athens.

Alethea, a young Spartan woman, leaves her home to accompany her brother on the military campaign. Taken prisoner by the enemy and enslaved in an Athenian household, Alethea’s heart is set on revenge. However, her feelings are complicated as she is drawn to her abductor’s amiable cousin, Eucleides.

Meanwhile, Efigenia, a child bride and Alethea’s new mistress, struggles to navigate in a world dictated by men. The rigid norms she lives by are consuming her little by little. Can the arrival of the Spartan help her break loose from her chains?

City of Bronze, City of Silver is a tale of bloodshed and vengeance, oppression and love, set against the backdrop of an ancient civilization steeped in myth.


City of Bronze, City of Silver by Saga Hillbom predominantly follows Alethea, with Efigenia and and Eucleides as secondary perspectives. The plot starts off quite slowly, switching between Athens and Sparta while setting the scene. As a classics student, the scene setting was half of the fun because this book is clearly thoroughly researched, and seeing concepts and events I have learnt about come to life in great detail was incredible. A few of my favourite details included are the symposiums, the Eleusinian mysteries, the rhetoric in the Athenian assembly and the Dionysia- if you want to find out what those are you’ll have to read it!

My favourite thing about City of Bronze, City of silver was the way Hillbom gently introduces the reader to two cultures very different from our own, yet also distinct from one another. The customs and values of these societies are alien to the modern reader but at no point do you feel distanced from the characters as their worlds are described through their eyes, with the complicated and human emotions attached to that. I grew attached to the characters quickly: I was furious at the way Efigenia was treated and how she believed it was her fault, agonised with Alethea as she was torn between her duty and her passion and very fond of optimistic Eucleides.

Alethea licked her lips, lacking response. How you rush to complete devotion. A dangerous quality.

City of Bronze, City of Silver by Saga Hillbom

I loved the role reversal between Alethea and Eucleides; everyone has seen a good girl try to ‘fix’ a bad boy, but a defiant Spartan woman and a hopeful Athenian man? Amazing. What a combination. It takes a little while for Alethea to be enslaved and get to Athens, but once she does the plot picks up and doesn’t set down until the epilogue, full of plot twists and what is pretty much a mini tour of Ancient Greek hotspots. Yes, the plot seems a little wandering at times, but who doesn’t want to wander through a world rich with interweaved descriptions and little details that pull the entire tapestry together?

Summer was budding, fresh in its cradle. The fig trees had begun to bear fruit, although the figs would not be ripe for almost another month. Now they were small and hard under the lush green leaves. Behind them, Mount Taygetus dominated the skyline. Streams trickled from the rocky mountainside, pouring out in the Eurotas.

City of Bronze, City of Silver by Saga Hillbom

My one gripe would be the inconsistent punctuation, with full stops missing or capital letters where there shouldn’t have been, however I received an early copy so this was quite possibly fixed before publication. Overall I enjoyed City of Bronze, City of Silver, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested (even slightly) in the Ancient Greece, or who just enjoys a good historical fiction.

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