Summary: Xeones, an ancient Greek orphaned at a young age, is drawn to the strength of Sparta. There he willingly becomes a squire and undergoes training to fight alongside and support the Spartan military elite. His path eventually leads him to stand with a small group of Greeks making a desperate stand in a narrow pass known as Thermopylae, in Greek the ‘Gates of Fire.’
Review: Through the eyes of Xeones and the squires, Spartans, and slaves with whom he comes of age, the reader is given a picture of life in the ancient city. Unlike Athens, Sparta left little written record, so there are many gaps to be filled in. Still, Pressfield’s book rings true and the story of Xeones, his stand with the 300 and their allies, proves to be a gripping one.
Read-a-likes: Pressfield has written other books set in ancient Greece, but none that match Gates of Fire. For a lighter read featuring the same setting, Gary Corby’s mystery novelsare worth a peek. While set a bit later and farther west, Robert Harris’ Marcus Cicero series is worth a look for those seeking authenticity.
Availability: This novel is available through the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book.
Reviewed by: Eric