Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Nearly 2,500 years ago, in 480BC, at a bleak pass in a far-flung corner of eastern Greece, three hundred Spartan warriors faced the army of Xerxes of Persia, a massive force rumoured to be over a million strong.
Their orders were simple: to delay the enemy for as long as possible while the main Greek armies mobilized. For six days the Spartans held the invaders at bay.
In the final hours - their shields broken, swords and spears shattered - they fought with their bare hands before being overwhelmed.
It was battle that would become synonymous with extraordinary courage, heroism and self-sacrifice: it was Thermopylae. In Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the epic story of those legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 528 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/12/1999
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780553812169
- EPUB from £3.99
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by egonzalez111
Great read all the way through. Gives you an amazing visual of how the wars of the ancient Spartans were fought, and how these magnificent warriors proved that there is glory to be won in death.
Review by Shimmin
This turned out to not be my sort of thing. There is a perfectly understandable need to set the scene for the climactic battle, but with one thing and another, I never read far enough to get anywhere near it. The early part of the book is a set of slightly confusing flashbacks and switches of perspective, introducing the protagonist, a young lad who will become a squire and the only surviving non-Persian witness to the battle. I found it rather difficult to follow his mental switches between points in his life. When we did settle down to an account of how he ended up at Thermopylae, it was a grim litany of unpleasant events. As tends to happen, it was the compulsory Historical Novel Rape Scene that first disengaged me - his cousin is barely introduced to the book before she's gang-raped by a band of pillaging Persians. I did press on for a while, but on that kind of form, I just didn't anticipate enjoying it very much. The book would need to be more tightly-written and more compelling to draw me on despite the content. Reading other reviews, it seems that the actual battle doesn't even start until near the end of the book, so I'm not sorry I stopped. I don't see much entertainment value in a couple of hundred pages of brutality and misery, personally.