So Over the Wine-Dark Sea may be had for free, and the whole series for a song at the publisher's website. Here. TR (talk) 16:11, December 9, 2016 (UTC)

Ooh, cool! Turtle Fan (talk) 01:54, December 10, 2016 (UTC)
Unnecessary for me, since the book is available at my town's library. This series doesn't strike me as all that interesting, so I have no near-future plans to read it, but maybe someday...JonathanMarkoff (talk) 08:53, December 10, 2016 (UTC)

That Was Abrupt[]

I've read this series over the course of the summer and enjoyed it immensely. I've always found that some of HT's greatest strengths are on display when he's just exploring a setting, especially a premodern one. Four whole novels of nothing but travel and observation were a wonderful fit.

At the same time, when I'm reading historical fiction in the modern world, I have at least a broad historical context to put it into. But my knowledge of the classical world is extremely sparse. I don't know all that much about even Alexander the Great, and, though I had heard of Ptolemy before, recognizing the name awoke no deeper knowledge for me. Of the Wars of the Diadochi I knew nothing at all, so when the traders' bug's-eye-view storyline intersected with history, I found it wonderfully suspenseful in ways I never could for something set within the last couple centuries.

Tonight I read the final chapter of Owls to Athens, expecting it to bring closure to the series. Instead it stops as abruptly as a new fall TV drama cancelled midseason by the network. Even worse, it leaves so much dangling. Sostratos teased that the Aphrodite would sail to Alexandria the following year. That would have made for a wonderful adventure! I didn't much care for Menedemos' bizarre infatuation with Baukis and his endless hand-wringing over it, but having it pay off so tensely and ending the series immediately afterward is not good storytelling, IT seemed as though, in spite of all that, Menedemos's relationship with his father was on the verge of a breakthrough, but no.

And finally, we're only two years short of the Siege of Rhodes. (I checked Wikipedia, since HT apparently decided to leave me hanging.) This was alluded to when the cousins met Demetrius. Wouldn't the Rhodian victory in that campaign have made for an infinitely more satisfying endpoint?

It's so bizarre. Almost as though HT lost interest in the project halfway through. If I'd known I would not have started it. I hate stories that are abandoned like this, and from a professional writer of Turtledove's renown, it's unforgivably bush league. Turtle Fan (talk) 10:28, August 11, 2018 (UTC)

HT was asked about this series and a continuation at Twitter. He said he wanted to write a book about the Siege of Rhodes as a follow up, but that he couldn't get any publisher interested. He also has said on several occasions that the "Turteltaub" books didn't sell that well (Justinian's numbers were dismal).
I haven't read past book 1, but what are you describing sounds like a possible mixture of Harry's usual approach that the world keeps on turning after the last page AND an expectation/hope that he might have been able to get a contract renewal, and then not getting that renewal. TR (talk) 15:21, August 11, 2018 (UTC)
I was afraid it would be something like that. I do wish I hadn't read it. The pleasant atmosphere and crash course in historical events I didn't know about wasn't worth the cocktease of a story that stops before it's over. Turtle Fan (talk) 05:55, August 12, 2018 (UTC)
I recall a re-tweet on HT's twitter feed from another author to the effect that if you want a series to reach the author's intended conclusion then buy each book as it comes out rather than waiting for the series to finish first since the latter will result in low sales and so a terminated series. Not strictly germane here since "Traders" ended years ago but it is a general comment on the difficulties authors have writing a series. I wonder if that's why the Crosstimes series ended, poor sales. ML4E (talk) 18:17, August 12, 2018 (UTC)
I remember that posting. It probably is germane; I certainly didn't grab up the Hellenic Traders as they came out, and my recollections from the old fan boards is that only Makkabee read them as they were released.
I was aware that they existed, but just barely. The way that "Also By This Author" titles were listed in a book's front matter led me to assume they were sequels to Justinian (which I might also read; that was meant as a one and done, was it not?) Turtle Fan (talk) 02:24, August 13, 2018 (UTC)
Now that PhoenixPick seems to be really pushing this series, fans seem to have rediscovered it bit.
I wish it were widely known as an unfinished project, if that's indeed what it is and not just HT deliberately being a cocktease. The final chapter came as quite a shock. Turtle Fan (talk) 02:24, August 13, 2018 (UTC)
I think with X-time, Harry hit his contract and just didn't feel like adding more. Tor held on to those, too, and has keep them in print so the sales couldn't have been that bad. Compare that with Hellenic Traders, published by the same company (different imprint) which fell out of print within like 5 years after volume 4 dropped. TR (talk) 19:04, August 12, 2018 (UTC)

That was my impression of XTime as well. Turtle Fan (talk) 02:24, August 13, 2018 (UTC)