Gates of Fire

Gates of Fire

An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Book - 1998
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Thousands of years ago, Herodotus and Plutarch immortalized Spartan society in their histories; but today, little is left of the ancient city or the social structure of this momentous culture.  One of the few antiquarian marks of the civilization that has survived lies scores of miles away from Sparta, at a narrow Greek mountain pass called Thermopylae.

It was there that three hundred of Sparta's finest warriors held back the invading millions of the Persian empire and valiantly gave their lives in the selfless service of democracy and freedom.  A simple engraved stone marks their burial ground.

Inspired by this stone and intrigued by the lore of Sparta, author Steven Pressfield has brilliantly combined scholarship with storytelling.  Narrated by the sole survivor of the epic battle--a squire in the Spartan heavy infantry-- Gates of Fire is a mesmerizing depiction of one man's indoctrination into the Spartan way of life and death, and of the legendary men and women who gave the culture an immortal gravity.

Culminating in the electrifying and horrifying epic battle, Gates of Fire weaves history, mystery, and heartbreaking romance into a literary page-turner that brings the Homeric tradition into the twenty-first century.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 1998.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780385492515
0385492510
Branch Call Number: PRES
Characteristics: 384p. 24cm.

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KRockstar10 Aug 14, 2013

Wow! This book was a big departure for me...I don't generally do military fiction, and I have (sadly) forgotten most of my Greek history. However, this book was great! Very very dense and a bit tough to get through at times, especially when you have to make multiple guesses about how to pronounce things, but well-written and extremely detailed. My only major complaint is that the narration frequently jumped around in time and if you weren't paying attention, it got very confusing. Other than that, I really enjoyed this and I'm glad I stretched myself outside of my comfort zone.

JCLGreggW May 24, 2013

So you've seen the movie "300" and have a feeling that the historical record probably didn't play out that way with rippling abs and a heavy CGI budget. Steven Pressfield takes the Battle of Thermopylae, where the representatives of the tiny city-states of Greece defend themselves against the massive army of Persians led by emperor Xerxes who is thirsting for revenge, and uses the battle as a framing device for a wonderfully-written historical novel about the Greek way of life. The story is told from the point of view of Xeones, a Greek refugee who comes to serve as a squire, or battlefield assistant, to the Spartans; Xeones is captured by the Persians in the wake of battle and forced to tell his tale of why and how the of Greeks were able to turn back the Persian tide. Xeones takes us from his own upbringing and how his village was destroyed by war, and how he traveled to Sparta - the enemy of his town's invaders - and joined them. We get to know several of the Greek warriors, from kings and generals to sergeants and raw recruits, culminating with the war with the Persians. Pressfield is a master at the war narrative - his descriptions of the specific battles and the tides of war will suck you in and leave you heartbroken. This works as a historical novel, as it gives you a great look at the daily lives and dramas of historical figures, and also as a war novel, with battles and dramatic action sequences. Once you'll read this, you'll wonder why the filmmakers just didn't use this as the source material instead of a Frank Miller graphic novel.

jaysullivan Dec 24, 2011

An inspiring story of what it must have been to become a Spartan guarding the gates. What a tale and it rings true, although no one really knows the details of what happened in the last days to those few at the gate.

s
scottekarate
Feb 05, 2011

This book is awsesome. Way better than the movie 300. Way more engaging.

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