Alexander’s Lighthouse

Published August 24, 2012

In 92 AD, Alexandria Egypt is the unchallenged pinnacle of Western intellectual achievement.  A melting pot of Egyptians, Greeks, Jews, and Romans, it frequently boils over into violence.  Marco, a young man from Corinth, finds himself caught between the Romans and the Free Egypt rebel forces as he helps invent the most powerful weapon in the world.  The rebels obtain it and threaten to overthrow the hated Roman occupiers.


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 In 92 AD, the imperial city of Rome rules Western civilization, but the city of Alexandria Egypt is the unchallenged pinnacle of Western intellectual achievement. Its prestigious Museum and Library are magnets that draw the world’s most important philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, physicians and geographers. Alexandria also draws a young man named Marco from Corinth, who joins a small team of brilliant engineers working on secret projects. Titus, the Roman Prefect of Egypt, knew Marco’s father so he sponsors the young man, who then promptly falls in love with Titus’ daughter Paula.

Populated by native Egyptians, colonized by Greeks, settled by Jewish immigrants, and ruled by the Romans, the huge city of Alexandria is a cultural melting pot that frequently boils over. At least once a month, highly organized insurgents emerge to harass the Roman Army occupation forces and then quickly disappear back into the alleys and apartments.

Titus orders Marco’s team to find a new weapon to help defeat the rebels. They create a shockingly powerful device, but before they can deliver it to Titus, the rebels obtain it and begin murdering the engineers to keep the device secret from the Romans.

A mysterious woman named Nebit, young, beautiful, and wealthy, befriends Marco, but he tries to stay faithful to Paula. He also questions her true intentions because of her past history and her belief that she is the reincarnation of Egypt’s last Pharaoh, Queen Cleopatra. Suddenly cut off from Paula and from Roman protection, Marco goes into hiding at Nebit’s estate, not knowing she is the widow of the former head of the rebel forces.

The rebels, who have spies even in the Roman administration, kidnap Paula and commence full-scale production of the new weapons, planning to overthrow the Romans on the very day that Emperor Domitian comes to visit.

Marco, desperate to save Paula and prevent the rebels from using the new weapons, finally gains access to Titus. Together they discover the rebels’ hiding place, but it’s too late. They now know the power of the weapons, but not how and when the rebels will use them.


Reviews from Amazon (read more)

“’Alexander’s Lighthouse’ is a smooth mix of fictional characters and events in a thoroughly researched historical setting….The inventive plot features a weapon under development by Marco and three colleagues in the museum’s special projects group that both the Roman rulers and the Free Egypt rebels desperately want to have.  Spies are everywhere.  It’s difficult to know whom to trust.  And the friction between those who relish the laws and order of Roman rule and those who want the return of an independent Egypt lurks beneath the surface.  The story builds through one intrigue after another toward the inevitable open rebellion.”


 “Don Westenhaver has authored an exciting, educational and quite believable plot centered in ancient Egypt. The story is intriguing with all its twists and turns, bloody battles, trickery and romantic sequences. Throughout the book, I found myself ‘picturing’ all that I was reading. ”


Review from Reader’s Favorite (read more)

“…well-written and produced, and the writing flows well. Perhaps the greatest strength is that the story is well-constructed….The author has identified a probable alternative history, and he has told the story in a way that grabs the reader’s attention in an exciting way.”  


Review from MWSA (read more)

 “When the Egyptian rebellion begins, the descriptions of battle are well-done, easy to follow, and exciting.  This is not a story of “good guys vs. bad guys,” but a careful narrative of a cultural and political clash in which no one is a complete villain or hero….Because of this care for accuracy and the ability to tell a good story, this book is a good read and should appeal to thriller fans, ancient history aficionados, and military fiction fans.”

One thought on “Alexander’s Lighthouse

  1. Midway through the writing of Alexander’s Lighthouse, my wife and I decided to visit Egypt to gather on-site research. In November 2010 we booked a 9-day vacation including a few days in Alexandria itself. We were due to leave on February 11, but the Arab Spring beat us to the country. Starting on January 25 we were glued to our TV, watching demonstrators filling Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the streets of Alexandria. The Egyptian revolution I was writing about in 92 AD was actually happening before my very eyes. We had to cancel our trip.

    During the Arab Spring of 2011, the Egyptian rebels overthrew their repressive government, just like they tried to do in my novel 2,000 years earlier. Marco wonders who will govern Egypt if the Romans are overthrown. Winning a rebellion is only half the battle – you then must rule the country you have won! Today the Muslim Brotherhood is finding it harder to govern Egypt than it was to take it over.

    As I describe in another novel, The Red Turtle Project, the North Vietnamese also “won the war and lost the peace”.

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