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A review on Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield

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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.
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