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  • Published: 23 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241667224
  • Imprint: Fig Tree
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $32.99

Glorious Exploits

An exhilarating and fiercely original story of brotherhood, war and art, set in ancient Sicily

So Gelon says to me, 'Let's go down and feed the Athenians. The weather's perfect for feeding Athenians.'

It's 412 BC, and Athens' invasion of Sicily has failed catastrophically. Thousands of Athenian soldiers are held captive in the quarries of Syracuse, starving, dejected and hanging on by the slimmest of threads.

Lampo and Gelon are local potters, young men with no work and barely two obols to rub together. With not much to fill their time, they take to visiting the nearby quarry, where they discover prisoners who will, in desperation, recite lines from the plays of Euripides in return for scraps of bread and a scattering of olives.

And so an idea is born: the men will put on Medea in the quarry. A proper performance to be sung of down the ages. Because after all, you can hate the Athenians for invading your territory, but still love their poetry.

But as the performance draws near and the audacity of their enterprise dawns on them, it becomes difficult to distinguish between enemies and friends. And Lampo, whose ambitions have never stretched beyond having enough coin for the next jug of wine, finds his aspirations elevated, his heart entangled and his courage tested in ways he could never have imagined.

Glorious Exploits is an exhilarating and fiercely original story of brotherhood, war and art; and - in the face of the Gods' apparent indifference - of daring to dream of something bigger than ourselves.

  • Published: 23 January 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241667224
  • Imprint: Fig Tree
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $32.99

Praise for Glorious Exploits

With all the blunt humanity of Roddy Doyle, Glorious Exploits is a vividly conjured vision of the past. Madly ambitious, cathartic like all great tragedy, but shockingly funny too, Ferdia Lennon's outstandingly original début is just glorious

Emma Donoghue, author of Room

Sublime. Pitch-perfect dialogue, a fast-moving story that is both dark and lyrically beautiful, tragic and funny in equal measure. Glorious Exploits is an astonishingly original and gripping story of brotherhood, war and art. Ferdia Lennon is a fierce new talent

Rebecca Stott, author of In the Days of Rain

Bold and totally unexpected, I loved this book. A brilliant novel about friendship, the healing power of art, and why we must fight for our dreams. I was hooked from the first page

Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain

In At Swims-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien gave us cowboys riding through Dublin. Now, Ferdia Lennon gives us modern-day Dubliners living among the ancient Greeks. This is a very special, very clever, very entertaining novel

Roddy Doyle

What a voice! What a story! A darkly funny double act from Lampo and Gelon, sandwiched in between the transformative experience of theatre and forgiving your enemies. I loved it from the first line

Claire Fuller

A glorious thunderbastard, with a unique, stark voice that is expertly drawn. It is cheeky, contemplative and sly with an outrageous sense of humour and a massive heart. Lennon beats you with a club then whispers you poetry. It is harsh and fun in a way that few other books are ... A book like this is long overdue and very welcome. Thank the Gods.

Rory Gleeson, author of Rockadoon Shore

As thrilling for me as the first time I picked up a Kevin Barry novel. Glorious Exploits is exuberant, funny, lyrical and profoundly moving. It is, quite simply, a rare beauty

Sarah Winman, author of Still Life

Glorious Exploits is an agonising exploration of the cost of violence, for both its winners and losers. It is also a reminder of how dangerous and radical the making of art can be, as the attempt to stage Medea with prisoners-of-war in 412 BC comes to represent war's opposite. This perfect first novel is a tragicomic masterpiece. Ferdia Lennon has created a story worthy of the Athenians: mortal, maddening, heart-mending

Clare Pollard, author of Delphi

What a truly magnificent novel this is: in turns riotous, brutal and deeply affecting. I am in no doubt that Ferdia Lennon is the real deal. His captivating storytelling resonates with all the beauty of Euripides' plays.

Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Funny, thoughtful, moving, brilliant

Nick Laird, Irish Sunday Independent

Contemporary yet classical, vulnerable yet self-assured, a beautiful story about the very power of storytelling

Santanu Bhattacharya, author of One Small Voice

Glorious Exploits stinks of misery, despair, love, war, poetry, reckless ambition, terrible failure, and glorious triumph. It’s a novel thick with the stuff of the Classics, in other words. A delicious treat of a read. I loved it

Jon McGregor

I loved this book. Fierce, funny, fast-paced. Glorious Exploits brings the ancient world roaring to life in a brilliantly non-stuffy way - as if the figures on a Greek vase turned round, offered you wine, and started chatting. Thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally brutal, and shot through with insight, pathos and hope. Reminiscent of Kevin Barry and George Saunders, but wholly original - an unforgettable debut

Joanna Quinn, author of The Whalebone Theatre

Lennon brings ancient Sicily to life with humor and pathos in his stunning debut . . . Lampo’s crackling modern vernacular adds just the right amount of levity . . . Lennon’s vital tale captivates

Publishers Weekly

Lennon’s distinctly modern voice adds levity and wit to this highly recommended narrative about the tragic aftermath of war and the tragic beauty of the human condition

Library Journal

Lennon evokes a time when it was common to relish and revere the art of Homer’s poetry and Euripides’ drama. Those with that appetite today are fortunate to have Madeline Miller, Emily Wilson, Pat Barker, and recently James Hynes’ Sparrow. And Lennon. An entertaining and impressive debut

Kirkus Starred Review

A truly original, blackly comic novel

Sunday Independent

A highly entertaining story from a brilliant new voice

The Gloss



At once charming and convincingly gritty. The logistics are riveting enough but Lennon takes them to a conclusion that will move you profoundly, in several directions all at once

Mail on Sunday

A blinder of a book, narrated by Lampo in a modern Irish vernacular with all the wit to match. In fewer than 300 pages it also manages to pack in a heap of ideas – about war and art, brotherhood and community, love and loss. A true gem

inews, The Best New Books to Read in January 2024

'The debut novelist to watch ... Remarkable ... This debut is entertaining, vivid, original – and has a huge amount of fun turning the genre on its head ... The premise is irresistible ... Terrific ... A novel to be gulped down'

The i

This larky, spirited caper feels like a blast and a breeze ... A delight, both for the originality of its conception and its willingness to pursue such an eccentric idea to its logical conclusion’

Sunday Times

Quirkily original ... A tragi-comedy, in homage to Euripides, it is simultaneously shocking, touching, and thought-provoking ... Recounted in a lively Irish brogue, Glorious Exploits has brio and brass neck

The Herald

Immensely likeable ... Raucously funny ... The writing is beautifully controlled

The Observer

Very funny ... Lennon is good on the art of direction. He is good, too, on historical contingency

Times Literary Supplement

Wonderfully odd, riotously funny ... This superb novel builds to a page-turning crescendo that evokes the great tragedy the men stage'


Engrossing, surprising ... He writes with a wit and an enchantment that very seldom waver ... Expect to encounter a heartfelt, convincing, poetically rendered world [which Lennon has conjured from] the ocean of his own defiantly original sensibility

Literary Review

Glorious Exploits is a celebration of stories and storytelling lavishing in the emotional power of the arts, and one that’s especially apt in dealing with the fallout of the Peloponnesian War at a time when, in our present reality, fighting has left cities in rubble and millions of people facing starvation. Lennon offers a window through which to see past the fog of messy politics and view these tragedies with empathy

AP book reviews

One of the most original and brilliant Irish debuts in years

Irish Times

Engrossing, surprising ... He writes with a wit and an enchantment that very seldom waver ... Expect to encounter a heartfelt, convincing, poetically rendered world [which Lennon has conjured from] the ocean of his own defiantly original sensibility

Literary Review

Discover more

Ferdia Lennon shares the Plutarch passage that inspired Glorious Exploits

Plus, find out why he taught himself to memorise an entire deck of cards while researching for the novel.