For history buffs (which extends to reading alternative history novels or novels that explore open strands in history) Valerio Massimo Manfredi is well known. I recently picked up a stash of his works at a small bookshop in Bandra. Now, amidst all my other unread books, his Alexander trilogy awaits.

Most of his novels, at least the ones I am reading / have read, are centred around ancient Rome and Greece. Pharaoh is set in modern times and eerily predates a 9/11 like incident. Another one Empire of Dragons (2005) does a Rome meets China, the two great Empires of those times.

These novels do stimulate many threads that one wants to investigate and study. For example, there was a regular trade from India and China to Greece and Rome. Artifacts from the Indus Valley sites also suggest the existence of maritime trade from Lothal. However, most conventional history narratives from the Roman  and Greek side have scant coverage on these lands. Herodotus’ was a major culprit in this with his ants-digging-the-sand-for-gold routines.This is an interest thread to follow as to why there was such fantasy oriented narratives.

Another thread that one can follow is those thousands of caravanserais along the Silk Route and other trade routes. Who set up these rest posts? How did some decide where to put tent? These caravanserais are more than just resting houses with clean drinking water. They were horse exchanges, markets, mail exchanges, banks and many other things. It would be fun to find out more.

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