Probably the single best fictional work on Sparta that has ever been written. 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 here 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. Narrated by the sole survivor of the epic battle – a squire in the Spartan heavy infantry – Gates of Fire is a 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 21st century.
An excellent trilogy which is well-imagined and written; it traces the life of Leonidas from earliest childhood to his death. The smaller of twins, born long after two elder brothers, Leonidas was considered an afterthought from birth — even by his mother. Lucky not to be killed for being undersized, he was not raised as a prince like his eldest brother, Cleomenes, who was heir to the throne, but instead had to endure the harsh upbringing of ordinary Spartan youth. Barefoot, always a little hungry, and subject to harsh discipline, Leonidas had to prove himself worthy of Spartan citizenship. Struggling to survive without disgrace, he never expected that one day he would be king or chosen to command the combined Greek forces fighting a Persian invasion. But these were formative years that would one day make him the most famous Spartan of them all: the hero of Thermopylae.
The second book of the trilogy. Sparta at the start of the fifth century BC is in crisis. The Argives are attacking Sparta’s vulnerable island of Kythera, but King Cleomenes is more interested in meddling in Athenian affairs. His co-monarch, King Demaratus, opposes Cleomenes’ ambitions, and soon the kings are at each other’s throats. Exploiting this internal conflict, Corinth launches a challenge to Spartan control of the Peloponnesian League, while across the Aegean Sea, the Greek cities of Ionia are in rebellion against Persia — and pleading for Spartan aid. King Cleomenes’ youngest half-brother Leonidas has only just attained citizenship. He has no reason to expect that this revolt will shape his destiny. At twenty-one, Leonidas is just an ordinary ranker in the Spartan army, less interested in high politics than putting his private life in order. He needs to find reliable tenants to restore his ruined estate, and, most important, to find the right woman to be his bride.
Book III in the Leonidas Trilogy
Persia has crushed the Ionian revolt and is gathering a massive army to invade and punish mainland Greece, but in Sparta the dangers seem closer to home. The Eurypontid king Demaratus is accused of being a usurper, while the Agiad king Cleomenes is going dangerously mad. More and more Spartans turn to Leonidas, Cleomenes’s half-brother and son-in-law, to provide leadership. But Leonidas is the younger of twins, and his brother Brotus has no intention of letting Leonidas lay claim to the Agiad throne without a fight.