3- Reviews from literature blogs
To tell the lengthy story behind the publication of Killing Pythagoras, I must begin by mentioning my daughter Lucía's influence in my life as a writer.
Before she came into the world, I had spent twelve years writing on the side, fitting it in around my work as an economist and a clinical psychologist. However, on August 21, 2009, my life changed.
At nine o’clock that night, after seventeen hours of labor, Lucía, our first child, was born. One minute later, we were told she had Down syndrome.
The following weeks were full of intense emotions. We were forced to redefine where we belonged, both in the world around us and within ourselves. How difficult this process is depends on how it is addressed, something I discuss in the video on Down syndrome (DS),which you’ll find on the DS page of this website. View it here.
During those weeks I rethought all the activities I had been devoting my time to. I finally decided to set aside everything I had been doing and focus exclusively on my family and on writing. Although I had already won several literary awards, I felt that, with enough effort, I could write a book that would be much more far-reaching than what I had written up to that point. Thanks to my daughter, what had been a vague idea I thought about every once in a while now became a concrete goal, a life project. One I hoped would ensure, at least partially, a secure future for Lucía, since my daughter would most likely be unable to earn her living once I was no longer there to care for her.
I resolved to spend two years researching and writing a novel. While it would be a thriller, it would also incorporate some topics I had wanted to include in a novel for a long time. I began by spending ten hours a day on research and plot and character development. Those ten hours quickly became twelve and grew to include Saturdays as well. During the week I would take Lucía to daycare, stimulation, and physical therapy, to which speech therapy and swimming were later added. I would work on the novel in the waiting rooms. In order to have a few more minutes to write, I limited my meals to a couple of sandwiches I ate while driving my daughter from one place to another.
Despite my dedication, when the two years were up, the novel was still not finished. Or rather, it was finished, but I decided to take another year to rewrite it. I thought it was worth the effort. It had the potential to appeal to many readers, but it still hadn’t reached that potential.
The third year dragged on, with multiple rewrites. I worked hand-in-hand with the large team of editors I’ve been lucky enough to be able to count on. By the beginning of 2012, I was finally convinced that Killing Pythagoras was far and away the best novel I had ever written. The moment had arrived to try it out on the reading public.
In 2012, Spain was in the midst of a profound economic crisis. The situation was even worse in the publishing sector, and it turned out to be almost impossible to get a publisher to read a manuscript by a little-known author. Besides, I didn't want a publisher to "test launch" my novel. I was determined that Killing Pythagoras would be an important source of support for my daughter's future. I didn't want to risk it fading into oblivion due to being published in a small print run with no marketing and very few copies available in bookstores. For this reason, I decided against taking the classic route of sending the manuscript around to all the publishing houses, and thought of another avenue: literary awards. In a literary contest, a committee reads all the novels submitted, which meant that if mine had the potential I thought it did, it would be sent to the panel of judges as part of the selection process. With this idea in mind, in May of 2012, I submitted it to the literary competition for the Planeta Prize, the most lavishly-endowed literary award in the world.
While all this was going on, I had begun, at the end of 2011, to study an alternative way of reaching readers: the Internet. When I finished writing Killing Pythagoras, I began to devote much of my time to reading articles and searching for information. I devoured everything I could find written by Internet gurus and online authors who had been successful in the US, the country that sets the trends for the rest of the world in technology like digital books. When I entered my novel in the Planeta literary competition, I was already dividing my time between writing Lord of Minds (the sequel to Killing Pythagoras), and studying the relationship between the Internet and books. I soon came to the conclusion that what had already happened in the English-speaking world—where millions of readers bought ebooks on the Internet, turning often-unknown writers into bestselling authors, some of whom then received offers of publication from the top publishing houses—was starting to happen in the Spanish-speaking world as well.
"Okay," I told myself, "the market for ebooks in Spanish is too small to make a living from, but it will grow, and it’s already large enough to get the attention of the publishing houses. If my novel could make it into the top ten and get good reviews, maybe some publisher would read it and make me an offer."
I turned this idea over so much in my mind I almost forgot I had submitted the novel to the Planeta literary contest. I hired a web developer and began to design the cover and learn the thousand little things one needs to know to publish on the Internet with the same quality as a traditionally published book. I had invested a lot of time in the novel and had high hopes for it. I wanted to do things with the same level of professionalism as the top Internet publishers in the US.
In October of 2012, I received a call from Planeta, telling me my novel had been chosen as one of the ten finalists and inviting me to the awards ceremony where they would announce the rankings. The first thing I did was call my web developer and tell him to put the Internet publishing project on hold until the outcome of the Planeta Prize was determined. Planeta is a large publishing group, and it seemed like a good option for them to publish my novel. I didn't expect to win the contest, but I knew that they usually published the first four or five finalists, so my goal was to get third, fourth or fifth place.
Killing Pythagoras turned out to be fourth in the rankings and first among the novels written without a pseudonym. I talked with several of the judges, and they told me that they had liked my book a lot and had even recommended that Planeta publish the novel. Without daring to get my hopes up too much, I waited for the publisher to contact me. I couldn't do anything else, because Planeta has the right during the first two or three months after the prize is awarded to option any of the novels submitted. While I waited for them to get back to me, I set to work on an old project: making a video on DS that would include my most important conclusions as a father and a psychologist and offer the best advice I could give to parents who had just received the news. I wanted it to be all-encompassing, useful for families and friends as well as parents. I also wanted to make more information about DS available to the general public. Due to the broad scope of the project—which included subtitling the video in English—it would take three or four months to complete.
I was immersed in making the DS video when Planeta called to tell me that, owing to the crisis and the fact that I wasn’t a well-known author, they had decided not to publish my novel.
I still had a couple of months of work left on the video, but I called the web developer and told him we were moving forward with the Internet publishing project. When I finished the DS video, I uploaded it to YouTube and the web. Then I immediately went back to focusing on the novel, and on April 6th, 2013, Killing Pythagoras appeared on the Internet.
When my novel became one of the more than 70,000 digitally-published books in Spanish, deep misgivings invaded me: why would anyone choose to buy my book over the other 70,000?
The first day one ebook sold, and I went to sleep surprised, hopeful, and uneasy. The next day two sold, and that first week I got up to three a day. The second week my daily sales rose quickly: eight, nine, sixteen, twenty-three...and suddenly my novel was among the top one hundred! I began to think that perhaps my dream that the publishing houses would take notice wasn't unfounded.
One week later, Killing Pythagoras was in the top ten, and by the end of April, it was number two. In May it became the bestselling ebook in Spanish in the world. I was selling more than any other self-published author or any publishing house. Dan Brown himself published Inferno shortly thereafter, and, astonishingly, the Spanish translation of his ebook lagged behind Killing Pythagoras.
I couldn't take my eyes off the screen and kept asking my wife to pinch me.
When the novel had been number one for a couple of weeks, I began to get calls from interested publishing houses asking if it was copyrighted. I told them I had the rights and sent them the novel. The first publishing houses were Spanish, but soon publishers from other countries in Europe, and even Asia, began to contact me. I was amazed. What was happening was more than I had ever dreamed of, but at the same time, I was uneasy. Would I get an offer? Would I ever hear from these publishers again? And if I did get offers, would they be only for a "test launch"?
During this time, I also contacted several literature blogs. They were very receptive and supportive about introducing a writer who was still unknown. Several offered to read and comment on the novel, and the first reviews began to appear. Also, readers who had finished the book were writing reviews all over the Internet. Most of the commentaries posted by readers and bloggers gave it five stars. Killing Pythagoras was getting a higher ranking on average than the bestsellers written by known authors. That fact seemed crucial to me, and I based my aspirations on it, hoping someone would believe sufficiently in the novel to keep it from disappearing in a few weeks.
In the second half of May the first offers arrived. Over the course of my career, I had signed several publishing contracts, and thanks to that I knew that what I was getting were minimum bids. These publishing houses were certainly not displaying the enthusiasm and single-mindedness I needed them to feel toward my novel. I continued to believe that only a firm commitment by a publishing house could give Killing Pythagoras a real chance in the very difficult world of bookselling. I responded to them in writing that I was going to take some time to evaluate the various offers I had received. Meanwhile, I looked at the bestseller rankings every day, saw that Killing Pythagoras was still number one, and prayed that it would last while I negotiated with the publishing houses.
At the end of May, I received a call on my cell phone while I was in the library where I write in the afternoons. It was one of the publishing houses that had sent me an offer by email as well as other emails insisting they wanted to talk to me. This time they had called my home phone and asked my wife for my cell number. They apologized for "harassing” me and insisted they were very interested in talking to me. We arranged to have a meeting on Skype the next day.
In the hours before the meeting, I forced myself to contain my expectations. I really liked the apparent interest they were showing, but I didn't know what they would want to offer me, and, most of all, I doubted they would accept several conditions I intended to ask for, as that was something very unusual in the publishing world.
During the first part of the meeting I let them talk (there were three women). I liked everything they said. One said she had read my book all in one sitting, staying up until five in the morning, and that the next day she had burst into the publishing house, very excited, saying she had found the book they were looking for. The others demonstrated similar enthusiasm. They told me they were from Duomo, a Spanish publishing house affiliated with the Mauri Spagnol group, one of the three largest publishing houses in Italy. They added that their Italian counterparts had read my novel and were ready to make a significant investment in its publication there as well as in Spain. Killing Pythagoras would be one of Duomo’s most important launches in Spain in 2013, and one of the Mauri Spagnol group’s in Italy in 2014. I asked about the first print run, and they mentioned figures ten times larger than the average print run in Spain. I asked about dates and they told me they would put all their energy into my novel to be able to publish it in early fall, in time for it to gain popularity before the Christmas campaign. Their response was equally positive about what they would invest in marketing.
I was very pleased with all of that, obviously, but I had to ask for something more, and I feared the negotiations would break down because of it. First, I explained to them that, for me, this was not just one more novel, but a life project, or rather a project for my daughter's life. For that reason I wanted to keep the digital rights to the Spanish version of the novel as well as the English (a month before, I had hired a translator with the intention of publishing the novel on the Internet in English). I also insisted that I wanted to be a part of the team that designed the cover and all the promotional materials for the novel. They noted my requests and told me they would relay them to the editorial director, who would make the final decision.
The next day they called me. The group had agreed to all of my conditions. When I hung up, I let out a shout that contained so much pent-up excitement that the neighbors must have thought I had gone insane.
Killing Pythagoras continued to hold the number one spot on the Internet for five months in a row, topping the sales records for a novel in Spanish. In those months I declined the offers that arrived from other publishers and worked together with Duomo, preparing the launch of the print version in Spain. We also accepted offers for publication in other countries like Greece and Poland, and began negotiations for translation to other languages.
Finally, on October 7th, 2013, Killing Pythagoras appeared in bookstores all over Spain.
I'm writing this just a month after the launch, and for an unknown writer (now a little less so), reader response has been very good. The novel has made it into the top twenty-five in fiction books, and next month there are several promotional campaigns scheduled; for example, painting the book cover on the sides of city buses in Madrid and Barcelona. It's clear that the publisher is very committed to marketing my novel. Booksellers and the media have also given it the reception every author dreams of.
Looking back, I see that seven months have passed since I published the novel on the Internet on April 6th, 2013. After having worked like a man possessed for three years, my hope in April was that Killing Pythagoras would reach the top ten and some publishing house would take notice of it. Now that it's been number one on the Internet for five consecutive months and the publication of print editions is well underway in several countries, I feel blessed by the gods when my daughter Lucía opens a copy, gives me her special smile as she points at my picture, and shouts:
Yes, princess, Papa has written this book for you.
"Maximum excitement and fun; [the author] achieves a compelling mix of strong elements." Onda Cero Radio
"A fast-paced historical thriller that transports us to the cradle of civilization among intrigues and passion." La Contra La Vanguardia. Víctor M. Amela
"A stupendous historical detective novel." Clío
"A fast-paced thriller with a well-documented historical foundation." El Periódico Dominical
"An edge-of-your-seat narrative driven by suspenseful action, it succeeds in creating a tense atmosphere in the face of the deadly threat that attempts to destroy the main characters." Qué Leer
"A gripping thriller featuring the famous mathematician." Sevilla Actualidad
"Crime, mystery, and romance in a fast-paced action novel." Historia National Geographic
3- Reviews from literature blogs
"A supremely interesting novel that surprised and hooked me, by an author who expertly juggles the tension and suspense up to the last second. Highly recommended." LEER ES VIAJAR
"Time travel really does exist thanks to writers like Marcos Chicot... In comfort, we move through the carpeted streets of Sybaris, among the vendors in the marketplace hawking their wares, or into the dark corners of a house managed by slaves... As for the villain that lurks in the shadows, the diabolical antihero that keeps us all confounded, he is amazingly intelligent. His schemes draw a veil of secrecy around the story that keeps the reader intrigued until the very end. Totally epic." TORRE DE BABEL
“…it has all the ingredients necessary in a book to hook you: crime, mystery, love, action… I loved it. It’s a fascinating story. I didn’t know there was a sequel and I’m very happy to hear there is! I can’t wait to read it.” MARIÁNLEEMÁSLIBROS
“The meticulous detail with which the era is recreated gives the novel incredible realism… One of the things that stands out in this novel is the author’s narrative style… While the novel is fast-moving from the beginning, the pace accelerates even more toward the end, creating an action-packed finish.” ADIVINA QUIÉN LEE
"...The novel is a perfect blend of intrigue, mystery, romance, and real-life events... All the characters are so interesting you won't be able to decide which of their stories to follow. But that doesn't matter, because their paths cross many times, inviting the reader to unravel the mystery that becomes more complex with each new page. Marcos Chicot knew how to keep the promise he made: I would like it. And so I did. I liked it, very much." BAILANDO ENTRE LIBROS
"What we have here is a historical thriller set in Classical Greece, which masterfully intermingles real characters with fictional ones... The novel hooks you from the first page to the last. The plot is so intricately woven it’s hard to put down once you begin. Even though it's most certainly a historical novel, Killing Pythagoras is a thriller from start to finish, in which criminal investigations overlap with political intrigue and power struggles. Highly recommended." AL RICO LIBRO
Fascinating, intelligent, and very enjoyable
"From the very first pages, you are submerged in a magical world. The characters are so well developed that very soon after beginning to read, you forget where you are. The novel transports you to the time and place where the action is unfolding.
The intrigue is nonstop and the ending is spectacular.
I recommend this book without reservation, as one of the most brilliant, enjoyable, and intriguing books I've read recently.
Congratulations to Marcos Chicot. Let’s see if he delights us with another epic novel soon.
Perfect for a movie screenplay..." LUIS
Fast-paced from start to finish!
"I loved it! I couldn't stop reading... Great plot with historical touches!
I recommend it without reservation! One of the best I've read!" PABLO MIRAS
It hooks you from the beginning
"You’ll want to read it in one sitting—it hooks you from the beginning with a fascinating plot built around the mysterious figure of Pythagoras. I enjoyed it tremendously, I highly recommend it, and besides, the author donates a portion of the proceeds to deserving social programs." DR. MONTALBAN
"I enjoyed it very much. Especially the plot and the fact that many of the things that happen in the book are based on real events!!! Also, it's very well written." MONTSIN
"I liked it a lot. The plot is very original and interesting, the romantic relationship very exciting. It was fascinating to uncover, little by little, the identity of the killer." RONDA
Hooks you from the first page to the last
"From the moment I started reading it, this novel hooked me. Every day when I got home I couldn’t wait to keep reading it, something that hadn't happened to me with a book for years. Intrigue, mystery, romance, historical accuracy. Far better than many 'bestsellers' by famous authors." JAVIER
Hooked from start to finish
"I loved it and I look forward to continuing to follow Ariadne and Akenon’s story in Lord of Minds. Congratulations!" IRIS BERGER
You can't stop reading
"Tremendously entertaining and interesting, highly recommended.
The historical recreation is excellent and I loved the character of Pythagoras. It’s incredible how mathematical themes become the plot’s narrative thread. Brilliant!" SARA DE CASTRO
An amazing book. I loved it
"Finding a story that absorbs us, that we can't stop reading, is one of the greatest pleasures for those of us who like to read. Killing Pythagoras is one of those books; I read, almost in one sitting, the entire seven hundred pages crammed with intrigue, romance, passion, power struggles...and mathematical secrets that are revealed to us in an intelligent and brilliant way. I am grateful for the patently simple style with which Marcos Chicot introduces us to these Pythagorean ‘mysteries.’ An exceptional, entertaining, and passionate novel that I recommend to everyone." FEDERICO BELTRAN
"The novel is very good. Not only does it entertain you, but the author succeeds in painting a vivid portrait of a fascinating historical figure. I’m anxious to read the sequel, even though he’s set the bar very high with the first part. Congratulations to the author." DONOSTI
The story grabs you
"A plot that won’t let you go, set in an era I knew very little about and that has been extremely interesting for me." MARTA
"A great mix of history, math, and fiction. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Very interesting characters, with beautifully intertwined stories. One of the best historical novels I've read." ISABEL REVERTE
Excellent. It's been a long time since I've read anything like it.
"An excellent book...one of those you can't put down.You can't ask for anything better. Besides, the author donates part of the proceeds to NGOs. Lord of Minds is coming out soon, and WE'RE AWAITING IT EAGERLY. Congratulations." JUANVI
"An excellent and absorbing description of Ancient Greece. Characters with stories you don't want to end, but you won't be able to stop reading...what happens next, more, more!—this is how you’ll feel while you’re reading.
A round of applause for Chicot for creating a first-class story. Highly recommended! CLOCE
"It hooks you from the first page. Very original. Different from any other novel I've ever read. Very interesting context. A great discovery." ENRIQUE MIGOYA
"Fascinating. You don't want it to end.
I haven’t felt this way about [a novel’s] plot and characters for a long time. I recommend it." LOLA
A novel that ensnares you and educates you
"This novel really hooked me—you won’t be able to put it down until the end. I'm an engineer, so I’m familiar with Pythagoras and his mathematical teachings, but I've just now learned about his political and social prominence. Of course, as always happens when I read a good historical novel, it awakened my desire to know more, and it astonished me how seamlessly Marcos Chicot was able to weave the historical details that we have about Pythagoras and his time into the story. I have to say that I loved the strength of the female protagonist. She's the one who rescues her masculine counterpart on several occasions! A welcome change from the damsel-in-distress theme... To me, she’s one of the strongest female characters to appear since Lisbeth Salander." SOLECITO
"I was a little lazy about reading a historical novel, but this book is much more than that. Even during the prologue I could see it was going to be a real thriller, and as I turned the pages of the first chapters, I began to hold my breath. As it progresses, the novel becomes more complex through the addition of well-developed, interesting, and original subplots and memorable characters. And the ending is simply extraordinary. Remember this prediction: without a doubt, within a few years it will be included in the anthologies of the best novels of the decade." ELOÍSA
"An excellent novel that interweaves intrigue, romance, and a story that will keep the reader glued to the pages from the very beginning." EILEEN
A FASCINATING HISTORICAL PLOT!
"It’s been fascinating to discover the Magna Graecia of the sixth century B.C. in Marcos Chicot’s novel. In this setting, with extraordinary historical characters, [the author] develops one of the most fascinating plots of political power, corruption, and murder I've ever read. I was equally fascinated by Pythagoras’ discoveries, his philosophical doctrine, and much more...an adroit historical novel with perfect timing that no one can read without being affected." PILAR BAEZA
The novel that was the best-selling ebook in Spanish in the world in 2013, and has been singled out for the acclaimed Mediterranean Culture Award 2015
KILLING PYTHAGORAS is a thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from the prologue to the final page. Based on real historical events, the novel is an extraordinary combination of intrigue, romance, and action.
“A fascinating novel.” - Juan Eslava, member of the judging panel for the Planeta Prize.
“Best Historical Thriller of the year.” NOVELAS HISTORICAS
Amazon Kindle ebook / Paperback
Smashwords (ebook in other formats: epub, pdf...)
The venerable philosopher Pythagoras, one of the most powerful political figures of his time, is preparing to name a successor from among his grand masters when a string of murders rocks the Pythagorean community. The killings, each more baffling and unpredictable than the last, gradually unveil the workings of a dark and powerful mind, more formidable than that of Pythagoras himself.
Egyptian investigator Akenon and the enigmatic Ariadne work to identify the murderer while at the same time coming to terms with their own tumultuous relationship. The challenge they face is one in which the ghosts of the past are interwoven with the sinister threats of the present: a challenge from which it seems impossible they will escape alive.
Killing Pythagoras, based on real-life historical events, will plunge readers into an apparently unsolvable mystery. Readers will unearth cryptic clues and come face to face with some of the most unnerving characters ever to appear in the pages of fiction: Glaucus the Sybarite, the gruesome Boreas, the vengeful Cylon, and above all, the mysterious stranger who wields his prodigious capabilities to sow death.
Marcos Chicot was a finalist for the Planeta Prize, the Max Aub Award, the Juan Pablo Forner Award, and the Ciudad de Badajoz Prize. He also won the Rotary Club International Literary Award and the Francisco Umbral Award. For Killing Pythagoras, he devoted more than two years to research and write what he calls "the defining novel of his life."
The author’s rigorous documentation translates into an atmosphere in which the reader experiences the sensation of traveling through ancient Greece, Carthage, and even Sybaris, the vanished city of the refined Sybarites. Against these backdrops, the rapid pace of the action draws the reader in from the prologue on; from there, the intrigue and excitement mount with each successive page until they reach a crescendo with the explosive ending.
This page is dedicated to those who share my penchant for delving deeper into some novels than what is narrated in the book itself.
It's meant especially for readers of Killing Pythagoras, as a complement to what I wrote in the notes at the end of the novel. Here, however, I've attempted not to reveal any elements of the plot, so as not to spoil the book for those who haven't read it.
Killing Pythagoras took much more work than my previous novels. It's longer, and contains characters and settings that required extensive research. It’s also written on various levels, and I had to blend those levels together in a seamless way. However, for personal reasons, it's also a very special novel for me. It became a life project of mine and I spent three years researching and writing it until I was finally convinced that the result was far and away the best novel I had ever written.
On this page I want to share some of the elements that kept me occupied during those years.
In Killing Pythagoras, coins play an important role in the motivations of several of the characters as well as in the investigation of some of the crimes. In that era, coins were minted in many regions, and money led to avarice in the same way it does today. These factors, combined with my penchant for coin collecting, explain the appearance of different coins throughout the novel.
When a character received a bribe, or when some sandals were bought in a marketplace, in order to feel the scene more vividly before writing it, I would pick up a Greek coin. I liked feeling its weight, tracing its details with my fingertips while I thought of how that very coin could have been in the hand of one of my characters.
The Greek coin I used to place myself in that era is an Athenian tetradrachm:
I bought it at an auction when I was getting ready to write my previous novel, which is also set in Ancient Greece, and which I hope to polish and publish someday. I positioned it on my fingers to take the picture so readers can appreciate its size. It's a thick coin—almost a quarter of an inch—which makes it very heavy (over half an ounce), since silver is almost as heavy as lead.
The tetradrachm was worth four drachmas, and a drachma was the daily wage of a soldier, which means that this coin was very valuable in that era, roughly equivalent to 150 to 200 of today’s euros or dollars.
On the face of the coin is the head of the goddess Athena, the protector of the city of Athens, which was named for her. The Athenians chose her as their patroness instead of Poseidon because the goddess had given them the olive tree, which was fundamental for Athens.
On the back is an owl, the symbol of wisdom—Athena was the goddess of war and wisdom. An olive sprig, a crescent moon, and the first letters of “Athens” in Greek may also be seen.
The drachmas and tetradrachms of Athens became the most widely used Greek coins during five centuries, which is why the Greek euro of today is similar to those coins, as we can see in the following picture:
Anyway, forgive my digression. As I said, I enjoy coin collecting...and in general I get excited about having in my hands any object that’s been in the hands of people so many centuries ago—those men and women who held it without ever imagining that that same object would eventually end up in the hands of someone who would write about them. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?
For Killing Pythagoras, I filled out an index card for each of the main characters, just as I had done for my previous novels; however, this time I came up with something I hadn't done before. As a clinical psychologist, I had given several of my patients personality tests. As I was preparing the novel, it occurred to me that I could do the same with my characters. I combined various tests and imagined how my characters would respond. In this way I came up with a personality profile I consulted frequently as I wrote. It helped me maintain consistency throughout the novel and ensure that the characters’ actions in the various situations they faced were coherent with their personalities.
Here you can see the table I prepared:
I've erased almost all the data so as not to give away crucial information to anyone who hasn't read the novel, since by seeing certain extreme personality traits in some of the characters it might be possible to deduce which one is responsible for a given crime or is scheming from the shadows.
I've left only the information on Branco, a Spartan who plays a minor role and who has no secrets that could be revealed by looking at the table. We can see from his main personality traits that he is highly independent, unlikely to commit himself, and very realistic, all traits that have helped him survive for many years as a mercenary. His intelligence is also above average (his IQ is 110, as opposed to an average IQ of 100).
Additionally, the first column (no. of appearances) shows he's mentioned twenty-seven times in the novel. Sometimes, with the table in front of me, I check each character’s appearances again for the purpose of making sure their personalities are consistent throughout the story (or that some characters are evolving as the novel progresses).
By the way, just under Eshdek on the table, I’ve profiled the characters who appear in Lord of Minds, the sequel to Killing Pythagoras.
With regard to geographical settings, the capability provided by Google Earth of seeing maps in relief has proven extremely useful to me when planning the various deployments of the armies, as well as the movements of some of the characters. It's wonderful that it's possible, when describing a chase, to consult the altitude or the distance between two hills, and, through satellite photos, to get so close that you feel as if you're there on the ground. You can rise high above the earth and move from one place to another, as if you possessed magical powers. Hurray for technological advances!
I created two maps which appear at the beginning of the book, to show the regions controlled by the various peoples of that era. Here’s one of them:
For the smaller settings such as the Pythagorean compound or Glaucus the Sybarite’s palace, I prepared more rudimentary diagrams. Those I drew by hand are difficult to read, and I prefer not to show them here because they've become so tattered that they're not presentable. The one of Glaucus' palace, I had to amend several times, and in the end not even I could understand it, so I created it again on the computer. Here it is:
Those of you who have read the novel will understand the meaning of the red circles ;-)
Warning: Killing Pythagoras is first and foremost a thriller that contains a number of riddles or mathematical elements whose role in the plot can be understood perfectly without the need for effort or previous knowledge. The following video delves deeper into some of those mathematical elements; that is, it's a video not meant for readers of the novel, but rather, for math aficionados who are prepared to listen to me talk about math for twenty-four minutes—is there anyone who would really want to do that? If, despite this warning, you still want to watch the video, I hope you’ll find it interesting: