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The Lost Army [Unabridged] [Hardcover]

Valerio Massimo Manfredi
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Oct 2008

The 4th century BC. A village in Syria. A woman, dressed in rags and covered in blisters and sores, is seen approaching on the road coming from the north. Suspicious of her, the villagers shout and throw rocks at her. She is struck and falls. She seems dead...

Her story encompasses one of the great collective acts of heroism of the ancient world. She was the mistress of Xenophon, a general in the vast army of ten thousand Greek mercenaries from virtually every Greek city state that was employed by Cyrus the Younger, in his quest to seize the throne of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes II.

Manfredi, one of the world's experts, has created an rip-roaring adventure seen from the perspective of the women who accompanied the soldiers on their long journey. A new and intense account of the most celebrated march in man's history, by the acclaimed author of the Alexander trilogy.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First UK Edition edition (3 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230530656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230530652
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 359,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Valerio Massimo Manfredi is professor of classical archaeology at Luigi Bocconi University in Milan. Further to numerous academic publications, he has published thirteen works of fiction, including the Alexander trilogy which has been translated into thirty-four languages in fifty-five countries. His novel The Last Legion was released as a major motion picture. He has written and hosted documentaries on the ancient world and has penned screenplays for cinema and television.

Product Description


'There can be few better escapes from economic misery and the British winter than a sword-and-sandals romp through ancient times'
-- Sunday Express

From the Inside Flap

How much pride can be lodged in the chests of ten thousand indomitable warriors and the heart of a single woman in love?

401 BC. Prostrated by thirty years of war between Athens and Sparta, the city-states of Greece are on their knees. As they flounder, Clearchus of Sparta is commissioned to recruit an army of Greek mercenaries. The true purpose of these forces – the army of the ‘Ten Thousand’ – is not clear. They know they are required to venture deep into the hostile territories at the very heart of the Persian Empire. They know they are being paid by Cyrus, brother of the Great Persian King Artaxerxes. But their official objective – clearing the area of rebel tribes – convinces no one…

The expedition is shadowed by a second army of women, including Abira, a Syrian girl who has abandoned her village to follow the young Greek warrior, Xeno, who appeared to her like a god on horseback from the heavens, offering the promise of love, of adventure, of a different life. This is Abira’s tale, a tale of heroic enterprise, of a titanic succession of pitched battles, of ambushes, of forced marches through scorching deserts and freezing mountain ranges, raging torrents and snow-covered tundra. Seen through her eyes – the eyes of a woman in love – everything takes on a different light.

In The Lost Army, Valerio Massimo Manfredi, bestselling author of the ‘Alexander’ trilogy and The Last Legion, shapes history into a story of the impetuosity, the plotting and the blind fury of these men in their unrelenting struggle for survival seen through a filter of female tenderness and self-sacrifice.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Emi
Love and War are two classic themes which are skilfully woven into Manfredi's take on the journey of 10,000 Greek mercenaries whose ancestors were the 300 who defended the Fiery Gates under Leonidas . These are the infamous Red Cloaks who fight to win a battle in 401 BC with consequences they could not foresee.

Abira is a beautiful, young village girl, who is literally swept off her feet by the soldier scout and army chronologist Xeno. She knows he is her ticket out of the Village of the Belt where she could marry a boy chosen by her family & remember with regret this stranger or she could seize her chance ...

So how does this girl cover thousands of kilometres with the Red Cloaks, across extreme terrains, become a pivotal part in this herd of soldiers return only to be stoned & left of dead?

I was given this book as a gift & what an enlightening gift this proved to be. For whatever reason, historic tales have never featured much in my reading lists - however this book may change that! In my naivety, I didn't realise this was story grounded in real events, it matches any Hollywood sword and scandal epic & makes the story all the more enthralling.

Take this book away with you on holiday if you`re crossing difficult terrains or need to immerse yourself in a different battle from your daily commute and let its pace engulf you.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Soldiers & Survival of the Fittest: 23 Nov 2008
By Jane-Anne Shaw, MA VINE VOICE
Ostensibly narrated by a female camp follower, this book portrays the katàbasis (return) of the Greek mercenaries of Xenophon's famed 'Anabasis' ('Journey Up-country'). The Ten Thousand was not a single homogeneous uniform community, and Manfredi addresses the fact that life in the Greek army was mainly formed by a collection of groups, e.g., the informal companionship of the suskenia (mess) is contrasted with the military unit and loyalties of the lochos (company) and realistically informs the narrative text. But, oh dear! Manfredi does dwell on the casualties and cruelties of battle, and then some ... However, it is notable the writing style - or, to be accurate, translated writing style - has improved somewhat since the earliest novels, although an impression persists that the reader is perusing a 'film treatment' rather than a novel per se. Some sections of the novel are almost Homeric in their descriptive power, but the dialogue between the characters does not live up to these. Manfredi has also invented an imaginary scenario / hypothesis that Sparta meant the 10,000 to either win or disappear which, given the reputation of the Spartans, is not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility. In the context of The Lost Army he also frequently refers back to the ultimately useless sacrifice of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, as if for some reason the triumph of the 10,000 was revenge for the past.

Ultimately the straggling army reached the shores of the Black (Euxine) Sea, hailing it in a famed shout of joy: 'thalatta, thalatta' (the sea, the sea!), where they erected a trophy monument to their achievement. However, if you want to know the 'real' Xenophon, go to the original 'Anabasis': apart from the surprisingly easy-to-read original Greek for classics students, there are several excellent translations on the market.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it! 12 Feb 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have not read any of the author's other books but wanted a change. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, yes the translation is a bit hit and miss at times, it drags in places and hurries in others...but is perfect escapism, every time I picked it up I was transported from the doom & gloom of recession and awful weather to a story rich in romance, history(however loosely based) and a gripping tale of triumph over adversity.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story badly translated 13 Jan 2009
By chuckles VINE VOICE
This book is exactly the reason I find Manfredi novels frustrating. His books are so up and down in quality for me. The story itself is excellent, and written this time from a totally different angle. He has decided to write this from the perspective of a woman in the army's entourage rather than from the main characters perspective, which gives a unique look at this historic event. Unfortunately however the translation is poor (sorry Mrs Manfredi) which can make the reading at time very painful, almost like a badly dubbed B movie in places. Living in a non native English speaking country, some of the 'mistakes' are glaring errors where a literal translation does not work and sound like bad acting (at typical example might be something like "Xeno said 'Hello' and then Sophos said 'Hello' back to him"). Finally a silly pet hate for me on this novel is that the battle of Thermopylae (or Hot Gates) is constantly referred to as the Fiery Gates for some reason, something I think a different translator would have noticed. So in summary: good idea and interestingly about a historical event that is not often written about, however a very frustrating read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ChrisJ 17 Feb 2010
I am an avid reader of ancient history and a fan of Valerio Massimo Manfredi hence the purchase of The Lost Army. The story begins at an even pace, describing the procurement of a Greek mercenary army (by forces unknown) and their advance deep into enemy territory with the hope of removing Artaxerxes from the throne of the great Persian Empire.

Without giving too much of the story line away, the defeat of the Ten Thousand (and their Persian allies) at Cunaxa leads to an agonisisng and painful withdrawal out of hostile territory that consumes two thirds of the book. As a result, the pace of the story is quite slow and the constant enemy attacks on the column is quite repetitive.

To break this monotony, Manfredi has intertwined a love story involving Xeno and a young Syrian girl by the name of Abira. This manages in parts to provide some light relief from the depressing mood of the book. As the Ten Thousand inch ever closer to safety and head out of modern day Armenia to the shores of the Euxine (Black) Sea, it is here that the book becomes dis-jointed.

After the tedium of never ending withdrawal under attack, in a little over 100 pages the conspiracy surrounding the expedition has been solved, the column has reached relative safety on the Black Sea and is now fast approaching the end. It is here that confusion reigns regarding both Xeno and Manfredi. Where do the survivors go and how does the author finish the story?

I must say at this point I didnt really care, I just wanted to finish the book. After such trials and tribulations for the Ten Thousand, i was expecting a much grander conclusion. After the battle at Cunaxa, the storyline was focused entirely on the Ten Thousand returning home, and when the end finally came it was an anti-climax.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal follow on!
Just as rip-roaring a tale as the earlier books. Happy to have the final one ( Last Legion), still in hand.
Published 13 months ago by W. Sharp
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I could not get on with this authors writing style, so I don,t think Ishall be attempting any more by him.
Published 13 months ago by John Carolanne
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story but not this author's best English translation.
THE LOST ARMY Valerio Massimo Manfredi 1st edn. 2008 Hardcover

Dr. Valerio Massimo Manfredi, a very eminent Italian historian and the Professor of Classical... Read more
Published 15 months ago by BlackBrigand
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow what a journey
Wow what a journey and to think it might have happened this way. And there was a lost army that made this journey. A story of survival, love and struggle. Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2011 by J F Ridgley
2.0 out of 5 stars very bad translation
If I were being generous I'd say Manfredi was let down by his translator, but I suspect the book is a turkey in any language. Read more
Published on 18 May 2010 by Simon A. Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost in the trilogy
Book arrived in pristine condition within two days.Fascinating book within the trilogy, very well written, difficult to put down.
Published on 21 April 2010 by History lover
2.0 out of 5 stars Manfredi...not as his best
Not much to say really, the book wasn't as gripping as some other of V.M. Manfredi's novels. The ending especially was a bit... Read more
Published on 14 Sep 2009 by Bucsa Oana Maria
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, not helped by translation (or editor)
Great story - can't really go wrong with a novel based on Xenophon's adventure - but the translation seems a bit woody and some rather ponderous sentences that could have done with... Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Army
Bought as a present for my husband who loved it, said he couldn't put it down.
Published on 16 Feb 2009 by Jane
1.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Army
Enjoyed his Alexander books and particularly The lost Legion, but since then its been a downward spiral, Will not be purching any more of his books and didn't finish this one!
Published on 30 Jan 2009 by S. Fahey
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