A review on Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield

A review on Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield

Length: 1265 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
A review on Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield

In 480 BC the Persian Empire was once again trying to invade ancient Greece. Under the reign of King Xerxes, an invincible army of a recorded 2 million was marching downwards to enslave all Greeks. An elite force of three hundred Spartans tackled the suicide mission of stalling the Persian wave of doom.

They fought in the narrows of Thermopylae and held on for 6 days, ultimately being forced to battle with their bare hands and teeth before being defeated. Their spears may have been broken, but their spirit remains adamant. Their valour changed the course of history and became the matter of legend. Steven Pressfield meticulously weaves history and fiction together to create a riveting account of that era's most famous clash. A truly fascinating read.

***The Author***

The 1943-born Steven Pressfield lavishly constructs his stories using a very unique style. His characteristic techniques are worth savouring and reading at least one of his works is strongly recommended if you are interested in literature and/or writing.

Most critics focus on the chilling way he gloriously recounts battles, narrating them in an epic fashion worthy of Homer's ageless tales. He deals with historic clashes of great importance and manages to transcend their essence to us, reading about them millennia afterwards. His clever and careful use of native vocabulary also aids in the immersion of the reader.

Personally, I find another aspect of his narrative even more interesting and notable: Pressfield puts you not in the position of the hero, as is standard fare, but tells his story through the eyes of the frightened friend, concerned family and lacking soldier. An ingenious trick that makes it much easier to convey the awe-inspiring qualities of the undaunted hero.

Characters getting the "first-person" treatment are not just means to an end either, as they are fully developed and intrigue the reader to care about them, adding yet another layer to the larger story.

***The Story***

After his army's victory in Thermopylae, King Xerxes fervently wanted more information on the rare soldiers that confronted his limitless army, those reckless Spartans that faced insurmountable odds and refused to surrender even though their only alternative was gruesome death.

Amongst the battlefield full of fallen Spartans and their allies, only one Greek was found that had any hope of surviving. Indeed, after extensive care provided by Persia's top surgeons, Xeones regained enough strength to speak and was asked to recount his "infantryman's tale" of the Spartan way of life and the events leading to and including the battle of Thermopylae.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"A review on Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Feb 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

What Constitutes a Spartan in Steven Pressfields' "Gates of Fire" Essay

- Steven Pressfields: Gates of fire is based on a true story of how three hundred courageous warrior Spartans led by their king Leonidas and 700 Thespaian allies held off an army of over one million Persian infantrymen on a narrow pass in Thermopylae Greece in 480 B.C. for seven days. The Spartan Warriors were highly disciplined, physically and mentally tough soldiers that were dedicated to their country and way of life. The three hundred Spartan’s left home one day leaving their families behind, on a suicide mission to buy time for their countrymen to organize forces....   [tags: Spartans, Steven Pressfields, Gates of fire,]

Research Papers
1632 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on Gates of Fire, by Steven Pressfield

- I. SUBJECT Gates of Fire is a novel about the Battle of Thermopylae that takes place in ancient Greece. The novel began by focusing on its protagonist, Xeones, who had died in the Battle of Thermopylae. The Greek god Apollo resurrected him from death so that he could tell the Persian king, Xerxes, the story of his life. Xeones story started when he was just a young boy. His town was betrayed and conquered by one of their allies. He avoided being killed by escaping to the mountains with his cousin, Diomache, and his family’s slave, Bruxieus....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Breakdown]

Research Papers
2508 words (7.2 pages)

Essay on Compaing Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield and the Film 300

- Introduction In history there have been many infamous battles. Ia Drang, Guadalcanal, Bataan, Pointe Du Hoc, San Juan Hill, Little Big Horn, and The Alamo are America’s hallowed battles. They are events that shaped our collective consciousness as a nation. One notorious conflict that has shaped the world as the aforementioned have shaped our nation is the Battle of Thermopylae. This epic struggle between the hoards of Persia and the decedents of Herakles decided the course of western civilization....   [tags: Compare Contrast]

Research Papers
2570 words (7.3 pages)

Essay about Analysis Of The Book ' Gates Of Fire '

- As citizens of the United States of America, we are often blind to not only the current traditions of foreign nations, but also the historical traditions of early civilizations. For instance, many have heard of the Greek city-state Sparta; however, do they truly understand the impact of Spartan civilization in history. Sparta is quite unique in its structure and development, and its history offers valuable insight to early Greek civilization. In his novel Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield works diligently to uncover the realities of life in Sparta during the Persian Wars....   [tags: Sparta, Battle of Thermopylae, Ancient Greece]

Research Papers
1739 words (5 pages)

Essay on Gates of Fire

- I. Subject Gates of Fire is a story about the Spartan way of life and their fight to protect their country. The story is told by a dying Spartan squire named Xeones, who was captured by the Persian army after the battle at Thermopylae. He is telling the story to the Persian king. The story took place around 480 B.C. Xeones began the story in a small town where he grew up called Astakos. He tells of how his town was destroyed and how he was taken in by the Spartans. Eventually he became a servant for a Spartan youth name Alexandros, who was the protégé of Dienekes....   [tags: Xeones, Sparta]

Research Papers
2763 words (7.9 pages)

Film Review : Jaws By Steven Spielberg Essay

- Jaws (1975), directed by Steven Spielberg, is considered to be the first “blockbuster” film ever created. A blockbuster in film is defined as a motion picture or novel, especially one lavishly produced that has or is expected to have wide popular appeal or financial success. Jaws came out on June 20, 1975. Bill Higgins states in his article, “Jaws ' place in Hollywood blockbuster history was cemented in the summer of 1975 when it was No. 1 at the box office for 14 consecutive weeks en route to making history as the first film to gross more than $100 million” (Higgins)....   [tags: Jaws, Steven Spielberg, Film, Blockbuster]

Research Papers
1039 words (3 pages)

Essay on How the Gates Foundation Reduces Poverty

- How the Gates Foundation Reduces Poverty “We all have the chance to create a world where extreme poverty is the exception rather than the rule, and where all children have the same chance to thrive, no matter where they’re born” (Guacci). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation started in 1997 when the Gates family read an article about the millions of children in poor countries who were dying from disease. They have been working to reduce poverty and poor health throughout the world ever since as well as create a better world for both future and present generations....   [tags: Extreme Poverty, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation]

Research Papers
1602 words (4.6 pages)

Man On Fire Essay

- Man on Fire When I think of an American Hero I immediately think of someone who is strong, intelligent, handsome, and daring. Upon closer examination, many different qualities than these become apparent. Courage, honesty, bravery, selflessness, and the will to try are just a few of the overlooked qualities of an American Hero. The definition of heroism changes with the context and time. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines heroism as "heroic conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end; the qualities of a hero"....   [tags: Man on Fire Tony Scott Book Review Analysis]

Free Essays
849 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about Bill Gates

- Bill Gates William Henry Gates, also known as “Bill”, has established himself as the richest man in the world. He is the youngest self made billionaire, and perhaps the best businessman in the world. As you read along, you will learn what Bill Gates’ accomplishments were, what his beliefs were, and why this topic is so important. Bill Gates is important because not only did he change the computer technology in America, he also became the biggest, strongest, richest and the most powerful company in the world....   [tags: Biography Biographies Gates Essays]

Research Papers
857 words (2.4 pages)

gates Essay

- WASHINGTON (CNN/Money) - The government hammered away at Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates in court Tuesday, attempting to portray him as an unreliable witness. And at one point Gates offered to alter his sworn testimony, landing a solid blow against Microsoft's position. The courts have found that Microsoft violated antitrust laws. The current hearings, under U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, will decide what restrictions will be imposed on Microsoft as a remedy for that illegal behavior....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
684 words (2 pages)

Gobartes was the historian assigned the task of accurately compiling Xeones' account and sending it to King Xerxes. That document is, in essence, "Gates of Fire".

Thus, the story of "Gates of Fire" can be split into two different timelines.

The novel begins with the "current" timeline and everything taking place there is printed in italics. It actually is the historian's own notes and remarks, as he fills out the details between Xeones' narratives and provides additional information on the grander scheme of the war and the Persian view of the events.

The meat of the book takes place in Xeones' timeline. He quickly connects with the reader by describing his last moments at the Gates and then progressively tells his story, growing up as a young boy that lost his homeland and was forced to live the life of a rogue. He explains how fate eventually saw him living in Sparta, quickly rising through its ranks of non-native inhabitants and coming to serve one of the bravest Spartans: Dienekes. Destiny also played its part in Dienekes becoming one of the select 300 chosen to forfeit their lives and head to Thermopylae, sealing his squire's future as well.

Although the battle of Thermopylae is the event everything revolves around, the magnificence of the warriors that participated and how it affected the war, quaint sub-plots are constructed using these characters. Pressfield's portrayal of the battle is truly enlightening, but its outcome is no secret; thus, Xeones and the historian help in adding a bit more mystery and depth in "Gates of Fire".

Pressfield fantastically merges fable and fact together in his thrilling tale and little suspension of belief is required to delve into it. Truth is oftentimes stranger, and more fascinating, than fiction and the parts of the story harder to believe are most probably those that are actually recorded in history books.

Chances are, "Gates of Fire" is indeed a document that King Xerxes would have been thrilled to read and it certainly surpasses my "mere mortal" standards.

***The Follow-Ups***

Steven Pressfield further cemented himself as a master of war-epics set in ancient Greece with the release of "Tides of War" in 2000, 2 years after "Gates of Fire". It recounts the Peloponnesian War that started in 431 BC and heavily focuses on the vagrant genius of General Alcibiades. While a good novel, it doesn't quite reach the levels of his first book. These levels were reached with and possibly surpassed by the excellent "Last of the Amazons", set in 1250 BC. His latest book is "Alexander: The Virtues of War", where he uses a first person narrative.

His next book will also feature Alexander the Great: "The Afghan Campaign" covers the Macedonian's invasion of the Afghan Kingdoms in 330 BC. The lack of an "of" in the title is, however, ominous.

Before recounting massive struggles, Pressfield wrote a book about golf. Amazingly, "The Legend of Bagger Vance" remains his only work that has been transcribed for the silver screen. Finally, in "The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle" the seasoned writer shares some of his creative wisdom.

The upcoming movie "300" has no relation to Pressfield, as it is a faithful adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels that also deal with the battle of Thermopylae. Similarities are inevitable, like the use of the historic quote from "Gates of Fire" protagonist Dienekes: When informed of the fact that Persian archers are so numerous that their volleys block out the sun, he commented "Good. Then we'll have our battle in the shade".


Steven Pressfield is an incredible writer, an essential read for any fan of literature regardless of subject matter preferences. His first book is the best place to start as "Gates of Fire" features one of the most remarkable battles in history as the culminating point. "Last of the Amazons" is another solid candidate, but chronological precedence breaks the tie. Even if the Spartan military spirit is admired, "Gates of Fire", like most quality novels of its kind, doesn't promote war and instead poses some of the thought-provoking questions we all should have about the issue. Some heavy themes are present that raise the age barrier to over 16, to my estimation. So if you are 17+, "Gates of Fire" deserves to be one of the top choices next time you go novel-fishing.
Return to 123HelpMe.com