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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2008
I think this book was enjoyable, but has been let down in the translation. Words like "seaside" dont seem fitting with the time and the language. I understand that the author is Italian, but I felt that the use of Latin words such as Ulysses didnt sit right. Maybe I have just read too many books that use the Greek names.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 22 July 2006
This book began quite promisingly telling the tale of a young boy being an outcast from Spartan society which allows the reader an outsiders view of the alien Spartan society. Then the boy is accepted by the Spartans and we are allowed a glimpse of life from the inside. Then it just falls apart.

The characters are 2D at best, the situations unlikely and the ending is a dragged out bore. It seems to me that Mr Manfredi ran out of ideas and didn't know how to end this dreary tale and it shows in the writing. I've never read any of his other books and I have to say I'm not particularly motivated to now.

There are better books about ancient Greece than this and anyone wanting to read a truly great tale of Spartan life and heroism could do a lot worse than read Steven Pressfield's magnificent GATES OF FIRE.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2010
I've startd reading all the books by Manfredi in te order that they are published and after reading the Alexander trilogy i thought it would be impossible to indanother good book...
I was wrong, Manfredi as done it again..
This is one book that you will not want to put down.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2006
Originally written in Italian, this book tells the fictional tale of a crippled child born to a Spartan warrior family in ancient Greece (circa 500BC.) Abandoned to the wolves in the woods as was tradition, the child is rescued and bought up by the Helots, a once proud race now enslaved by Sparta.
The story follows the child, Talos as he is bought up by his adoptive family and schooled in the ancient ways of the Helot people. He learns of the last King of the Helots, Aristodemus and of the legend that his ancient and preserved armour will be worn again by the liberator of his people.
Meanwhile his brother, Brithos is bought up as a true and feared Spartan warrior. Neither is aware of the existence of the other until their paths cross in a violent confrontation over the woman Talos loves. From this moment on their lives and fates become entwined as Sparta embarks on numerous brutal wars.
Based on actual events and people in ancient Greece, with numerous prophecies and legends, this book builds up to a tense and dramatic ending.
Slow to begin with, causing confusion with numerous ancient city and location names, this book would benefit considerably by the inclusion of a map of the area as it was at that time. If your knowledge of ancient Greece is on a par with the author, a Professor of Archaeology and an Italian historian, you won't need one. But if like me your knowledge of these names from the past escapes you, I recommend reading the book with just such a map. Imagine reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings without a map? Well, that's how I felt reading this book.
Ready to put the book down and forget about it during the first 100 pages, I persevered and I'm glad I did as the story really comes alive once the plot has been sown and the history lesson concluded.
The writing style seemed a bit dry to start with and I wasn't sure if it was due to the translation from Italian or not. The translation only irritated me once, when 'combat' was used as a verb when 'fight' would have been far more suitable. However, once the book started to flow I had no more problems with the style and thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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on 18 December 2014
In my opinion, Manfredi`s best !
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on 24 October 2014
Absolutely love this book!!
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on 16 January 2015
An excellent read
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2010
I had only ever read one of his books before which my boyfriend lent me and found it so well written I couldn't put it down. After reading Talisman of Troy, I wanted to indulge more into the worlds the books take you so I chose Spartan. I love everything on Greek and Roman history and mythology and this book didn't disappoint. Was very sad when I came to the end of the book as I had enjoyed reading it so much. A MUST read!! Cant wait to read more!
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2004
Like another reviewer, I found this book to be very tedious due to the childlike writing which, I suspect was due to the translation. The story drags on and on giving the impression the author thought of a story and then realised there were too many unexplained events and so characters and sub-plots have been added to try and add sense to it. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. The characters have no depth and the lack of detail in many of the battle scenes make it boring to read with no feeling of excitement. This only becomes apparent when you've read half the book and then it seems a shame not to finish it. I found the second half of the book painful to read and was glad when it was over. I read it it whilst on holiday and very rarely do I have to put a book down in fustration due to the quality of writing. This may also be explained by it being the first book I read after finishing the complete Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell (read in chronological order) - he is in a different league. Needless to say, I left the book in the hotel. This is my first book review as Spartan annoyed me so much.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2003
I have just finished this book, I would have to say if you have read 'gates of fire' and other Pressfield stuff or any ancient authors you will probably be disappointed. The book must have lost a lot in the translation. There seems to have been many Spartan based books released in the last few months, this period is having a bit of a renaissance. I found the historical accuracy a bit lacking, as the previous reviewer noted 'who was there?' well a lot of historians were there, or able to write about the times - from Homer, Xenophon, Herodotus, Thucydides etc...
I felt the narrative was missing something from the first few pages, I read the dust jacket and realised that the book is a translation, I think this is where it falls down. The detail is too sketchy, Marathon a three page wonder, Salamis is just mentioned, Thermopylae gets fouteen pages, the Persian adventure slightly more.
This book portrays the Spartans as gungh, screaming spear shakers, cries of ALALA! and impulsive charges are just not SPARTAN in my eyes. The dense Spartan phalanx would just fall apart under a charge, the ranks fanning out and the order breaking down.
All in all something lacking.
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