Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Blogtour: Dancing With The Lion Book 1: Becoming by Jeanne Reames

Please welcome Jeanne Reames with 

Dancing With The Lion

Book 1: Becoming 

Xairē! That’s ancient Greek for “Howdy.” [KHAI-rae]

Welcome to my blog tour for Becoming, Book 1 of the Dancing with the Lion duology, about the young Alexander before he became “the Great.” It’s an historical coming-of-age tale with a love story embedded.

Best known for conquering most of his known world before the ripe old age of 33, Alexander made even Julius Caesar weep (for not being him). But who was he before his meteoric rise? And how did his best friend and lover, Hephaistion, give him the emotional support needed for him to become Megalexandros (the Great Alexander)?

Dancing with the Lion Website:

Contains everything from cut scenes, to videoblogs of Macedonia (Northern Greece, where Alexander grew up), to audio pronunciations of those weird Greek names!

For our GIVE-AWAY, I’m going to offer something a bit different. Yes, there’s a $10 gift certificate from Riptide Publishers. BUT, for the lucky winner, you get your very own scene request. Want to see a scene in the novel from a different character’s point-of-view? Want to know what happened after a scene ended, or before it began? Or is there something you’d like to see that wasn’t in the novel? Ask for it! I’ll write it just for you.


Two boys, one heroic bond, and the molding of Greece’s greatest son.

Before he became known as Alexander the Great, he was Alexandros, the teenage son of the king of Makedon. Rather than living a life of luxury, as prince he has to be better and learn faster than his peers, tackling problems without any help. One such problem involves his increasingly complicated feelings for his new companion, Hephaistion.

When Alexandros and Hephaistion go to study under the philosopher Aristoteles, their evolving relationship becomes even harder to navigate. Strength, competition, and status define one’s fate in their world—a world that seems to have little room for the tenderness growing between them.

Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.

Get the book:


A group of people wearing costumes

Description automatically generatedThe nature of Alexander’s relationship with Hephaistion completely fascinates me.
Not whether they were lovers, but the honesty, duration, and sheer depth of it.
Alexander called Hephaistion “Alexander too,” and “Philalexandros”—friend of Alexander, in contrast to one of his other generals, Krateros, who he called only “Philobasileus”—friend of the king.
Although it seems they did often agree on policy, his support wasn’t brown-nosing. We’re explicitly informed that Hephaistion would tell Alexander what he really thought. Nobody else was as free as he was to upbraid the king. Yet Alexander never seemed to have felt threatened by him. 
They were true best friends.
How many rulers throughout history have had that? Someone whom they utterly trusted? And for about nineteen years, too. Maybe even longer (we’re not sure when they met).
A statue of a person

Description automatically generated

Who was this guy? What must he have been like, to become best friend to Alexander the Great? I’ve spent much of my career studying him, and I’m working on a biography about him now. But fiction lets me speculate in ways history doesn’t.
(Photo by Raymac. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demetrius_I_of_Macedon#/media/File:Di%C3%A1doco_Retrato._Bronce._300-280_aC_Museo_del_Prado.JPG)
It seems to me that a lot of novelists who write about Alexander aren’t entirely sure what to do with Hephaistion. He winds up bland, or bitchy. It may also be why at least some historians have a hard time believing he deserved his commands. He had to have been a yes-man or Alexander wouldn’t have kept him so close. Or he’s painted as Richelieu-esque, called “sinister,” and described as “tall, handsome, spoilt, spiteful, overbearing, and fundamentally stupid.”
I’ve challenged these portrayals in my scholarship, but believe a goodly chunk of the problem is trying to imagine the sort of man who’d become “Alexander too,” without menacing the authority of such a dominant figure as Alexander. I think Hephaistion was a gamma male. Pop definitions can be found all over the net, but the term was born in anthropology to describe the (few) male bonobo chimps who simply didn’t play the game. While some pop definitions assume gamma males will always clash with alphas because of a gamma’s dislike of authority, that’s only partly true. For especially powerful and intelligent alpha males, gammas may be their only true friends.
I believe Alexander trusted Hephaistion because he was neither a follower nor a leader, and he could keep up with him intellectually, shared his visions and ideals. They had a mission together. All the best love affairs do. Far from bland or bitchy, Hephaistion must have been complex and formidable. And theirs is one of history’s most interesting love stories, even if we may not know a whole lot about how it came to be.
But that’s what fiction is for.

About the series Dancing with the Lion

Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.

About the author:

Jeanne Reames has been scribbling fiction since 6th grade, when her “write a sentence with this vocabulary word” turned into paragraphs, then into stories…and her teacher let her get away with it—even encouraged her! But she wears a few other hats, too, including history professor, graduate program chair, and director of the Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program at her university. She’s written academic articles about Alexander and ancient Macedonia, and does her best to interest undergrads in Greek history by teaching them (et al.) to swear in ancient Greek.

Connect with the author on her Website, on Facebook, on Instagram, or on Twitter.


One lucky person will win a $10 voucher for Riptide. But this giveaway also includes something much more personal: 
Your very own SCENE. 
I’ve committed to write, for the give-away winner, a scene of her/his/their choice. 
Would you like to see X scene described from a different character’s POV (point-of-view)? 
Or would you like to know what happened just before X scene, or right after?
Or maybe there’s something I didn’t write about at all, but you’d like me to write it for you? 
There are some parameters, especially for the third category (write a scene not included). The request is subject to my agreement that the characters would engage in the requested behavior. So keep that in mind. (I wouldn’t write a scene wherein Alexander beat his dog, for instance.) 
But I look forward to the winner’s scene challenge! 
I have some “cuts scenes” as well as “missing scenes” (in the year between the novels) that will be available on my website after July 1st.
When done, this one will join them.

Each tour stop is a chance to enter by leaving a comment below. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 6, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Promotional post. Materials provided by the publisher. 


  1. As shows like The Tudors have shown, historical reimaginings can be quite interesting and entertaining.
    jlshannon74 at gmail.com

  2. I just finished Becoming and I loved it! It's very refreshing to find a work that allows Hephaistion to be his own person.

    I was curious about how you built his character: what inspired his backstory and personality? Your portrayal gave me a new point of view on him and I realized how well it fits into the few stories we have of him.

    Thank you! broderpagt at gmail dot com

    1. The ancient source that mentions Hephaistion the most is probably Curtius, followed by Plutarch, but I got information on him from a wide variety of ancient sources. His life has been one of my chief areas of study, and I'm actually working on a (non-fiction) biography of him. :-)

      So I've spent a LOT of time with this guy. The fictional version of him is certainly based on all my research, but I got to...stretch it. :-) Fill in the blanks on his family (a really BIG blank!) and what he might have been like as a person. I wanted to give him (dead) brothers because we tend to forget, I think, that people only appear in our historical record as they pertain, and as they pertain to Alexander in particular. So a lot of people (and women especially) wind up "erased" by disinterest. Just because we don't hear about any siblings for Hephaistion in the historical record doesn't mean he didn't have any, only that they (apparently) weren't on campaign with him, or not still alive by the time he rose to greater prominence.

      As for his personality, I've pondered for a while on what sort of person he might have been. Curtius describes him as willing to speak plainly to the king, but that he did so in such a way that it seemed "granted by Alexander rather than taken by himself." And several of his assignments included diplomatic duties, so he was apparently able to "manage" people, yet it's also implied that he could get into fights with other people at court. I don't want to stretch that too much, as I think it's been OVER-emphasized (these are ALL ambitious people), but that suggested somebody who, diplomat or not, wasn't inclined to back down if challenged. So all of that sort of fed into my idea of what he was like. It's too easy to see him as a yes-man. He definitely wasn't that. And somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that he must have been a gamma male sort.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Congrats on your book release!
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  5. Being a primatologist myself I love your idea of gamma male haha! Very neat comparison.
    And your reasoning about their relationship and what type of guy he is is very persuasive!

    1. But I just want to point out that in actual animal studies, gamma male is not really a scientific term as far as I know. I do not know how it started in men categorization arrives. In research usually there is just alpha and beta. And also bonobos are female dominant society. Their males you can say are mama's boys. Chimpanzees are male dominant and get very political. Bonobos are empathic and peace loving but very under studied.

    2. Thanks. And years ago, an anthro buddy of mine told me the story of the researchers who were studying Bonobos, and nicknamed some of them, who they called gammas, "sneaky fuckers" for getting to the women before the alphas, although I have no idea where he heard that story. It was the first time I'd ever heard the term and I about died laughing, although I really don't know a lot about Bonobos.

      Just from little hints here and there in the ancient texts, I really get the impression he was NOT a typical follower/yes-man. :-)


Hey, thanks for reading this post. We hope you liked it. Please share your thoughts - we always enjoy hearing from readers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...