Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield

This is an outstanding novel!   I'm not a fan of history or military books and this is both, yet it is so well written and so compelling that is transcends genre limitation.

The novel is about the Spartans and the battle at Thermopylae in 480 CBE.   The king of Persia, Xerxes, wanted to incorporate Greece into his enormous empire; the Spartans sought to slow their advance and, by sacrificing their lives, affect the morale of both groups (the Persians negatively, the other Greek forces positively).

The story is told by Xeo, the only Spartan survivor of the battle who is captured by Xerxes' forces and asked to explain the thinking that led to the Spartan's campaign.   Consequently there's ample room for story line that goes far beyond the gory battle description.

I was impressed by Mr Pressfield's writing in another of his novels that I read recently; this one, however, is even stronger.    I recommend it highly as a dramatic read that happens to have some war scenes, that happens to take place a long time ago but which stands on its own as an excellent work.

1 comment:

Nickname unavailable said...

Great choice. BTW, Daniel Suarez's follow-on to Daemon - Freedom(TM) is pretty good as well.