Thursday, January 5, 2017

Book Review: Gates of Fire

Finishing my first year of reading historical fiction set in Ancient Greece, I read my second Steven Pressfield novel, Gates of Fire. This one focused on the Battle of Thermopylae between Sparta and the Persian Empire. Similar to Gary Jenning's 1980 novel Aztec, Gates of Fire is told from the point of view of the victors of the battle interviewing a lone survivor, and works to paint a view of a society in the era leading up to the battle in question.

In Pressfield's book, the character is Xeones, a volunteer in the Spartan army (which would mean he wasn't a true citizen of Sparta), who is able to tell his own life story, as well as why he volunteered to join with a city that would never consider him to be a full citizen and further, why he would join the Three Hundred Spartan in a battle that was sure to end in their deaths.

The novel was incredibly immersive and powerful, and left me with no question as to why this book was so well received and sits on the recommended reading lists of so many military forces throughout the world.

As much as I've enjoyed every one of the twelve novels I've read off this list to date, Gates of Fire alone would have made reading the list worthwhile.

A great book.

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