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67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There aren't enough adjectives for this incredible book
What a magnificent book this is. I have read a lot of books but none of them - in every genre - comes close to this one. I don't remember ever being this emotionally involved in a story as it unfolded through the novel, and you certainly go through every emotion as you turn the pages. Not only is the story itself, of the heroism of a tiny Greek army in the face of...
Published on 20 Feb 2001

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 Star/4 Star
I bought this book on the strength of the reviews here on Amazon. Having read a lot of Bernard Cornwall and Conn Iggulden I was searching for another historic-fiction writer to add to my favourites. I have to rate this book in two halves. The first half of the book was hard slog. I like to finish what I start, but it was a continuous effort to keep coming back to it (over...
Published on 11 Jun 2012 by R. Wigginton


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67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There aren't enough adjectives for this incredible book, 20 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
What a magnificent book this is. I have read a lot of books but none of them - in every genre - comes close to this one. I don't remember ever being this emotionally involved in a story as it unfolded through the novel, and you certainly go through every emotion as you turn the pages. Not only is the story itself, of the heroism of a tiny Greek army in the face of absolutely impossible odds, a remarkable premise in itself, Mr Pressfield has managed to make it even the more remarkable by his totally involving telling. As other reviewers have said, you really do feel as if you know all of the characters, and suffer along with them. Even though they are doomed to die, you can't help hoping that by some miracle, they will be triumphant. It is also descriptively unsurpassed, actually transporting you back into the world of the Spartans and taking you into the formidably painted battle whether you like it or not, leaving you breathless and terrified but unable to put it down. It's a fairly thick book, but I read it in 2 days, staying up into the wee hours because its impossible to put it down. This is the only book I've ever read that made me cry, and when I cried, I didn't stop for about an hour. It has everything - heroism, honour, comradeship, history, the love of family (especially the heartbreaking scene, without dialogue, when we see the great warrior Dienekes inform his wife of his inclusion in the 300 who must go to Thermopylae) - you name it, it will be in there somewhere. By degrees horrifying, hilarious, heartbreaking, shocking, terrifying and ultimately one of the most uplifting reads you will ever come across, "Gates of Fire" will never, ever be forgotten.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction at its very best, 24 Oct 2007
By 
J. Greenhow (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
Everyone knows the story - the vast Persian empire of the east wants to add Europe to its list of conquests but to do so it must go through Greece, a group of warring city states. The resitance of the Greeks is led by Sparta and the heroic last stand of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans 2,500 years ago is still the subject of book and film.

Why would men march knowingly to battle against an enemy that outnumbers them so ridiculously they have no hope of victory? What makes these men fight and stand for days without breaking, standing with their fellows until they are all cut down?

Pressfield answers these questions and more in a stunningly compelling, immaculately researched story of noble self sacrifice, the brotherhood of war and patriotic valour that created a victory through defeat.

This novel is a fitting testament to those Spartans that fell in a battle that has become a byword for selfless courage.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read!, 3 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Gates of Fire (Paperback)
I picked up this book almost by accident during a recent trip to New York and simply could not put it down. This is a truly exceptional novel. It's the story of the battle of Thermopylae (the Greek word 'thermopylae' literally translates to 'gates of fire'). Pressfield's descriptions of battle and of everyday Spartan life are fascinating, vivid and detailed. But the book is a lot more than just historical fiction at its finest. Pressfield, through Xeo's storytelling, discusses the basic elements and conflicts of the human psyche in a captivating manner. The struggle between good and evil. The struggle between the two most basic conflicting human emotions : pain and pleasure, hope and fear. The true meaning of leadership, friendship, love, respect, compassion. Do not miss this book.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here come the Rooster - he ain't gonna die., 28 Mar 2007
By 
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This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
This is a human story, populated by believable characters in a historical backdrop, an epic backdrop. All of them are fleshed out and tug at your loyalties, in a fictionalised romantic way, but that ends up giving you a real involvement and stake in the final battle - no matter how preordained its outcome.

It's portrayal of the harsh disciplines of the era, the morality, the training, the cameraderie, the ethics and the expected behaviour are brought to life - how accurately I wouldn't like to say (I'm not a historian) but quite credibly. Truly a ripping yarn.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preparing to read it again ...., 29 Jun 2000
By 
Larry Moon (Stockton, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
An outstanding novel, exceptional reading. As another reviewer mentioned, I am surprised the movie rights to this book have not been snapped up. I'd love to see Gates Of Fire brought to the theater, if the movie were anywhere near the quality of the novel I think it would be an epic film.
The books passages are vibrant and alive with life, ancient Sparta unfolds in all of its harsh, relentless, and even ruthless glory. At the same time Mr. Pressfield has been able to paint for us in exquisite detail the Spartan code of life, military training techniques, ancient weaponry of the period, battlefield tactics, why the Spartans were feared and almost invincible in war, as well as the role and attitude of the strong, independent, warrior-type women of Sparta. They were as brave as the men of Sparta, if not more courageous ... they knew their men were sworn to die in battle. Interwoven throughout is the off color humor, angst, and fears of the common Spartan soldiers, their sarcasm and commentary on the politics of the divided Greek City States, down to the petty internecine rivalries of the officers in their ranks. But, when it came time to fight, all closed ranks in tight phalanx, locking shields, long spears forward and aligned in perfect rows ... each man locked tightly to the man on his right, all protecting one another. Just as it has always been with soldiers, when in the throes of combat, we take care of each other. Any soldier of any period up to the present will chuckle out loud at these passages, a soldiers lot has always been pretty much the same throughout history ... weapons change, leaders change ... but soldiers of any army of any country are soldiers one and all.
The battle at the Narrows, the Hot Gates, raised the hair on the back of my neck ... described in incredible fashion by the author, the account was chilling, breathtaking in its carnage and ferocity ... wow! I don't think it mattered much that the Persion Immortals were able to get to the rear of the Spartan defenders and cut them off from retreat ... the Spartans under Leonidas had no intention of retreating, they came to die.
An ancient monument on the battlefield inscribed:
"Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws, we lie."
What a great book.
Gates of Fire, a must read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never before.........., 26 Feb 2005
By 
SPRay1969 (Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
........has a book taken me so far away and introduced me to characters i've felt I could reach out and touch.
From their everyday life to their viciousness on the battle field this book brings the Spartan people to life in an almost effortless way,this is almost a fiction/non-fiction crossover.It's such a pity that historical fiction is rarely rewarded by the recognition of so called 'book prizes',if it were Mr Pressfield would surely have swept the board.
After reading this book I felt mournful that these people would no longer be part of my life.........for a while anyway.
Perfection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jee-zus!, 6 May 2008
By 
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
"Magnificent. I can only echo everything positive that's been said about this book. I'm awestruck. Truly magnificent .."

is what I originally said in this review, but then I kept coming back and thinking how inadequate it was, and how this book deserves so much more than a 17 word recommendation.

For starters, I'd say the first chapter is pretty hard going. But, grit your teeth, get used to the style of writing and use of ancient language, and then let yourself relax and start to savour the detail, the characterisation and the beautifully crafted build up to the events of the legendary Battle of Thermopylae.

You will find yourself caring deeply about the characters. You will find yourself being amazed by the lifestyle and hardships that the Spartans endured to shape themselves into possibly the most disciplined and dedicated fighting machine that history has ever witnessed. Yes, we know what's going to happen at the end but, strangely, you'll find yourself hoping - possibly even praying - that it doesn't. The chance is given for them to turn away, to return home with stragglers from the other allied city states and yet Leonidas chooses to stand with his 300 Spartans (and let's not forget the Thespian and Theban fighters who stayed behind too) in the sure and certain knowledge that they will all perish.

I particularly love Stephen Pressfield's translation of the words on the stone which lies on top of the burial mound of the last of the Spartan 300 -

"Go tell the Spartans stranger passing by,
that here, obedient to their laws, we lie"

Stark, but true.

I've read books where I've had a lump in my throat at the end, and I'll even admit to a slow tear now and then, but nothing prepared me for the way I'd feel at the end of this one.

Honestly, if you read this book you will never forget it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best historical novel ever written!, 8 Dec 2008
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
Actually, this is one of the best books I've ever read (and I've read a few). Pressfield manages to de-mythify and rationalize the Spartans and their way of life. This isn't a hollywood-style swashbuckling epic but a gritty, realistic description of how these people lived and why they did what they did. The prose is eloquent and contemporary thus enabling the reader to relate to the characters on a personal level, you can really feel their hurt, sorrow and anger.

The battle scenes and Spartan battle training are portrayed in a refreshingly down-to-earth manner: you won't find any mindless glorificatiion or heroic elevation here, only a bunch of comrades-in-arms trying to deal with their environment the best way they can, that is the way they've been raised and trained to. Dienekes's mantra of "war is work" really sums up the rational, pragmatic approach of those warriors. A number of sub-plots, such as the story of Rooster's revolt and acceptance or Xeone's love for his cousin, are also beautifully narrated and help keep the reader's interest on a number of levels. The end of the book is -at the same time- extremely moving, inspiring and thought-provoking.

Overall, a truly excellent book, highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huzzah for the Thespians, 26 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
I picked up this book, in a frantic search, after having read Steven Pressfield's 'Tides of War'. I was not dissappointed. The book was fascinating, and I enjoyed its entirety, several times now. I would just like to say that finally someone does proper for the 1200 Thespians who died to a man along side the proffessional Spartans. The Spartans were bred for it, the Thespians were not, they were the tradesmen, the militia, yet they hung in and refused to retreat with the other Greeks, and remained with the proffesionals. I would very dearly like to hear the tale of those 1200 Thespians...
A must for anyone interested in anthing ancient/classical.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel of its kind, 21 April 2006
By 
This review is from: Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae (Paperback)
Any fan of historical novels will love this book. The story is both simple and epic and the author's ability to capture the action of battle is second to none. Even those who rubbish the idea of 'swords & sandals' should give this book a read. Regardless of genre it is quite simply a great story well told.
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Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield (Paperback - 1 Feb 2000)
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