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Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae - Steven Pressfield
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
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5.00 5
Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie. Thus reads an ancient stone at Thermopylae in northern Greece, the site of one of the world's greatest battles for freedom. Here, in 480 B.C., on a narrow mountain pass above the crystalline Aegean, 300... show more
Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie. Thus reads an ancient stone at Thermopylae in northern Greece, the site of one of the world's greatest battles for freedom. Here, in 480 B.C., on a narrow mountain pass above the crystalline Aegean, 300 Spartan knights and their allies faced the massive forces of Xerxes, King of Persia. From the start, there was no question but that the Spartans would perish. In Gates of Fire, however, Steven Pressfield makes their courageous defence--and eventual extinction--unbearably suspenseful. In the tradition of Mary Renault, this historical novel unfolds in flashback. Xeo, the sole Spartan survivor of Thermopylae, has been captured by the Persians, and Xerxes himself presses his young captive to reveal how his tiny cohort kept more than 100,000 Persians at bay for a week. Xeo, however, begins at the beginning, when his childhood home in northern Greece was overrun and he escaped to Sparta. There he is drafted into the elite Spartan guard and rigorously schooled in the art of war--an education brutal enough to destroy half the students, but (oddly enough) not without humour: "The more miserable the conditions, the more convulsing the jokes became, or at least that's how it seems," Xeo recalls. His companions in arms are Alexandros, a gentle boy who turns out to be the most courageous of all, and Rooster, an angry, half-Messenian youth. Pressfield's descriptions of war are breathtaking in their immediacy. They are also meticulously assembled out of physical detail and crisp, uncluttered metaphor: The forerank of the enemy collapsed immediately as the first shock hit it; the body-length shields seemed to implode rearward, their anchoring spikes rooted slinging from the earth like tent pins in a gale. The forerank archers were literally bowled off their feet, their wall-like shields caving in upon them like fortress redoubts under the assault of the ram.... The valour of the individual Medes was beyond question, but their light hacking blades were harmless as toys; against the massed wall of Spartan armour, they might as well have been defending themselves with reeds or fennel stalks. Alas, even this human barrier was bound to collapse, as we knew all along it would. "War is work, not mystery," Xeo laments. But Pressfield's epic seems to make the opposite argument: courage on this scale is not merely inspiring but ultimately mysterious. --Marianne Painter, Amazon.com
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Format: mass market paperback
ISBN: 9780553580532 (0553580531)
ASIN: 553580531
Publisher: Bantam
Pages no: 442
Edition language: English
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Community Reviews
Lisa (Harmony)
Lisa (Harmony) rated it
4.0 Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
It took a while for me to get into this story, but I did love the novel by the end. The story is framed as the first person account of a "squire" of the heavy infantry of the famous 300 of Sparta at Thermophylae, where in 480 BC a few thousand Greeks held off hundreds of thousands of invading Persi...
kennethjmcginnis
kennethjmcginnis rated it
4.0 Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
4.19825558
Merle
Merle rated it
A few years ago I read and loved Pressfield's The Afghan Campaign, which is apparently one of his minor works, so I expected to be blown away by this one. Unlike most readers, though, while I think it's competently written, I was never able to enjoy it. Gates of Fire is primarily about the battle at...
Ray Foy's Literary Journey
Ray Foy's Literary Journey rated it
4.0 Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
I generally don't care for stories that glorify war, but then, war is a large part of the human condition and so is a legitimate subject for examination. In Gates of Fire Steven Pressfield offers an engrossing account of the classical era battle of Thermopylae. The facts of the battle are dramatic e...
Konnici na Liriite - Chevalier Du Lys
Konnici na Liriite - Chevalier Du Lys rated it
5.0 Gates of Fire
Excelent book. Researched with good dialogues. Historical fiction usually suffer from words, expressions and even attitudes that are from our time. I don't remember happening on this book. The Battle of Thermopylae was one of the most important battles in the ancient times because that sacrifice all...
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