The Sand-Reckoner

Gillian Bradshaw

Forge Books

The young scholar Archimedes has just had the best three years of his life at Ptolemy's Museum at Alexandria. To be able to talk and think all day, every day, sharing ideas and information with the world's greatest minds, is heaven to Archimedes. But heaven must be forsaken when he learns that his father is ailing, and his home city of Syracuse is at war with the Romans.

Reluctant but resigned, Archimedes takes himself home to find a job building catapults as a royal engineer. Though Syracuse is no Alexandria, Archimedes also finds that life at home isn't as boring or confining as he originally thought. He finds fame and loss, love and war, wealth and betrayal-none of which affects him nearly as much as the divine beauty of mathematics.

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Read an Excerpt

(Chapter 1)

The box was full of sand. It was fine, glassy sand, almost white; it was moist, and had been flattened, then scraped smooth to produce a surface as level and firm as the finest parchment. But the sunlight, falling obliquely with the afternoon, glinted here and there on the edges of individual grains, catching on facets too small for the eye to distinguish. Innumerable facets, one would say—only each made a distinct point of brightness, and the young man looking at them suddenly found himself wondering if he could number them.

It was an old box. The olive-wood frame was



Praise for The Sand-Reckoner

"Delightful . . . true brilliance arises in a number of places . . . The theme of freedom, exemplified by verses from the Odyssey where more chains, not fewer, keep the hero free from the sirens' song bring The Sand-Reckoner to the timeless level of the best historical fiction."-Historical Novel Society Review

"Bradshaw makes ancient history immediate and thrilling."-The Orlando Sentinel

"Bradshaw is known for atmospheric accuracy, period characterizations, and rousing plots . . . She lends the conventions of the historical novel a rare and unusual depth."-The Boston Globe

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Gillian Bradshaw

  • Gillian Bradshaw's father, an American Associated Press newsman, met her mother, a confidential secretary for the British embassy, in Rio de Janeiro. She was born in Washington DC in 1956, the second of four children. They didn't move around quite as much as one might expect after such a beginning: Washington was followed merely by Santiago, Chile, and two locations in Michigan. Gillian attended the University of Michigan, where she earned her BA in English and another in Classical Greek, and won the Hopwood Prize for fiction with her first novel, Hawk of May. She went on to get another degree at Newnham College, Cambridge University, England in Greek and Latin literature, and she sold her first novel while preparing for exams.

    She decided to stay in Cambridge another year to write another novel and think about what to do for a Real Job. However, while there, she discovered she could live on her income as a novelist and also met her husband, who was completing his doctorate in physics. Between books and children she never did get a Real Job, and she's been writing novels ever since.

    She and her husband now live in Coventry. They have four children and a dog.





    Available Formats and Book Details

    The Sand-Reckoner

    Gillian Bradshaw

    ALA Alex Awards Winner (Adult for Young Adults)


    Forge Books