I thought that it was important to remind the reader that the Hellenic world was not simply Greek. Darius the Bactrian is a “displaced person,” a Persian nobleman turned bandit in the plains of north-west Hyrkania.
Close to a million people “participated” in the campaigns of Alexander, with all the consequent hell of refugees, destruction, rape, famine, and shattered lives. Reading the documents of antiquity, Alexander’s campaigns seem to roll across the stage of history the way Beowulf wanders the mists of his epic in a a world without peasants, in a war without human consequence.
Through Darius, the reader gets a glimpse (only a small glimpse) into the other side of the coin — the wholesale slaughter, the displacement of families. Darius is the son of a minor Bactrian noble, and he has already been at war for ten years, fighting in the rebellion against Darius III that many historians believe was responsible for the ease with which Alexander took the western satrapies of the Persian Empire. At twenty-three, he is a veteran, a highly skilled swordsman, and a young man with who craves a leader and stability — even when that leader has killed his last known relative. My character of Darius is roughly based on young men I knew in Africa and the Middle East in the 1990s. He is straightforward, expert at violence, and apparently uncomplicated, but a great deal goes on behind his mild brown eyes.