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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading. Thrilling, exciting and then some.
I loved this book. Though admittedly at first I found it hard to get into because this is the first book I have read by Pressfield. However once I got used to the diction and the way the tale is told I was simply taken with this great work. It really is such a good book with not only historical themes but also brilliantly written battle scenes and greatly defined...
Published on 5 Aug 2003 by JennyD

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat over-played
There seemed to be an overwhelming set of rave reviews for this book and on that basis bought it.

The plus points : good story and concept.
Unfortunately, that's about where it ends (from my perspective).

The writing is in a very stilted style - which I hated. It is written from the first person's perspective and there are several of these...
Published on 2 Jan 2010 by Axl Furneaux


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading. Thrilling, exciting and then some., 5 Aug 2003
By 
JennyD (Manchester, Uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Last Of The Amazons (Paperback)
I loved this book. Though admittedly at first I found it hard to get into because this is the first book I have read by Pressfield. However once I got used to the diction and the way the tale is told I was simply taken with this great work. It really is such a good book with not only historical themes but also brilliantly written battle scenes and greatly defined characters. It is hard to capture the spirit of people who lived over 3,000 years ago, yet Pressfield does it with grace and skill. What I loved about Pressfield is that he tells the story from afew perspectives hence allows the reader to form their opinions of characters on their own. I for one know I was torn between the loyal and brilliant Amazons and the brave and noble Greeks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern heroic storytelling at its very best, 8 Jun 2002
This review is from: Last of the Amazons (Hardcover)
This book is the third novel set in ancient Greece, and I believe the best of the lot. These books have, for me, evolved from Gates of Fire, with its phenomenal battle scenes, through Tides of War, where these were augmented with a fine understanding of the 'mob' politics of Athens in that period to this book, 'Last of the Amazons'.
The idea of the narration within narration could have been a problem, but is not and perfectly frames the story within a story that this book is. The tale is told more swiftly than the previous books, again showing what I believe to be positive evolvement by the author, but still manages to take the reader to the decks of the greek ships, and conjures up images of the time that completely take the reader away to a different time and place! These are not books for the reader who likes to read a few pages at a time and move on. The evokation of the mythical warrioresses of the steppe is truly a page turning masterpiece form a master of his craft.
I only hope that there is another coming soon.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loose yourself in an ancient war., 23 Nov 2003
This review is from: Last Of The Amazons (Paperback)
I occansionally like to read historical novels so I can pretend to myself that I'm learning at the same time. Some authors extensively research the era of their novel to get the details and facts correct. However, ancient Greece, in the time of Gods and heros like Thesus survives only in legends. Yet somehow Steven Pressfield has managed to capture the magic and depth of that time.
Although it took me a while to adjust to the style of writing (itself epic, in the style of Homer's Illad), once I had I was hooked. The brave and all too human Greeks and the noble and fierce Amazons. Their discovery of each other. The misunderstandings. The tragic consequences. The love stories that inter-weave throughout. It was simply magnificent. Strongly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bold and the Beautiful, 9 Aug 2002
By 
Scott Shearer (LONDON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Last of the Amazons (Paperback)
I've given this book five stars not because it's perfect (the experience of reading Steven Pressfield's "Gates of Fire" may never be bettered), but because it is so beautifully and cunningly written and accomplishes the almost impossible task of turning the clearly legendary Amazons into a "real" people. He uses the English language in much the same way that JRR Tolkien did in his epics: to emphasize the antiquity of the world in which he is immersing the reader and to establish the importance of the events he is describing.
The story of Theseus and Antiope, which lies at the center of the book, and the other events referred to in this 13th Century B.C. context, are enthralling in themselves as interpretations of very ancient Greek (Mycenean?) myths; but for me the real theme of the tale is the dawn of what we call Western civilization and the fading away of the "barbaric" ways that preceded it. Theseus (portrayed as the founder of Athenian democracy, indeed of democracy itself) and the "free people" of Amazonia (who live in harmony with nature, savage as it so often is) represent each respectively.
The prose is wonderful, this largely legendary but significantly formative world is captured vividly, and the simplicities of good vs evil and us vs. them are successfully avoided. I highly recommend this book for both it's literary merit and it's thematic importance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical fiction for readers of fantasy, 7 Sep 2004
This review is from: Last Of The Amazons (Paperback)
The point of this novel is not exactly to paint a historically accurate description of the period in which the story is set. This novel narrates the clash of two very different cultures, of two drastically opposed views of life and the world. On the one hand, the Amazons are described as a matriarchal nation, highly conservative and very respectful of the ways of nature, so much so that they see horses as their soul brothers and they hate to live in cities, and they have kept this way of life for centuries. On the other hand, the Greek come from a patriarchal society which is consciously bent on change: in Athens, king Theseus is changing the way kingdoms and states are ruled, making the citizens take part in, and assume responsibility for, the state affairs. The Greek arrive as strangers and travellers in the land of the Amazons, where they preach about the moral superiority of their new and dynamic urban society to a wary audience who does not want to change their ancestral ways. But in fact, the role of the Greek in history was to bring change, and this is what Theseus and his companions do, even though unwillingly, with their mere presence which sparks an unstoppable chain reaction of disaster and change. Which of these two civilizations is better? The conservative, respectful of nature Amazons (who, we are shown, can be quite brutal and cruel, in the unconcerned, detached way also of nature)? or the daring, all-for-change, urban Greek(who don't consider their womenfolk as proper citizens and don't allow them the same advantages as men)? The Amazon live among their horses, following the rythms of nature. The Greek live in cities and try to control nature with their agriculture and commerce. We know the result of this culture clash, but we are certainly given food for thought by the author.
This novel reads almost as a Robin Hobb or George R.R.Martin fantasy novel, because of the battle action and the way the clash of cultures and the end of a world are portrayed. And even though the narrative structure (with one narrator who explains the story as it has been told to her by other narrators) makes the reading a bit jumpy, it is very worthwhile and rewarding.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat over-played, 2 Jan 2010
By 
Axl Furneaux (Church Crookham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Last Of The Amazons (Paperback)
There seemed to be an overwhelming set of rave reviews for this book and on that basis bought it.

The plus points : good story and concept.
Unfortunately, that's about where it ends (from my perspective).

The writing is in a very stilted style - which I hated. It is written from the first person's perspective and there are several of these. That way you have to adjust your view every chapter (seemingly).
This style almost makes the descriptive elements poor in the extreme and very frustrating for me - "just tell the damn story" I ended up shouting at the book several times, before I gave up and threw it in a corner in disgust.

Just to let you know, this is the first book I have not finished in years, so this is a real rarity.

Others may enjoy it, but for me it was not a novel in the true sense of the word, but a bunch of diaries jammed together and that did not work for me at all.

I shall return to Scarrow, Cameron, Sidebottom, et al with confidence of a story well written
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT HIS BEST, 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Last of the Amazons (Paperback)
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Not his best but still a page turner, there is some scanty evidence that a tribe of Amazons did exist, however I like my historical fiction to be based on hard fact. As always Pressfield keeps you there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of the mist of Mythology, 8 Aug 2009
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This review is from: Last Of The Amazons (Paperback)
I count 'Gates of Fire' as one of my all time favourite books, so not sure why I waited quite so long to read another Pressfield.

Pressfield stands apart from 'historical' writers such as Iggulden and Kane. He is a lot more sophisticated and cultured in his writing style.

This book is particularly ambitious taking the Amazons from Greek mythology and bringing them to life. Pressfield's challenge is then to create warrior women who are more than the equal of men in battle, believable. He does this by making them master horse warriors, creating for them a complex culture and belief system which largely excludes men.

The story is a gory and brutal one, and for all Pressfields sophistication and complexity, was even for this seasoned 'hack and slash' consumer, hard to read at times. The Amazons are on the war path after their Queen falls for and is carried off by the Athenian King and head up a Barbarian hoard that beseige the famous city. Pressfield broadens the themes and makes it more a clash of belief systems, with the free and wild tribes trying to remove the stone dwelling 'farmers' and 'pirates' they see as a threat to their way of life.

This part of the story is compelling and the seige of of Athens is a fantastic peice of drama that is on a par with any description of warfare I've ever read.

There were a couple of negatives for me. The main being that this, the largest part of the story, is told in 'flashback' by several of the lead protagonist's, as they take part in a secondary adventure to retrieve a couple of runaway daughters who have left Athens to jion the Amazons.
This meant that the outcome of the battle is known to us in advance of the telling, but also that the conclusion of the secondary tale makes for the end and climax of the book. Which is, as Pressfield always seems to be, moving and tragic, but I just felt the real story ended with the conclusion of the seige, giving the book a slightly anticlimatic feel.

Other than this I did find some of the great detail the author goes into on the belief systems of the Amazon's a little tiresome at times.

But Pressfield is a genuis and has a rare gift for describing battle and war, illustrating both it's horrors and heroism and taking the reader into the terrifying heart of the action.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars epic!, 12 Dec 2003
This review is from: Last Of The Amazons (Paperback)
The book got me hooked from page 1 and the suspens kept climaxing as I went through. I loved the writing style, as it did indeed remind me of the Iliad. What I enjoyed most is that in this wonderful book, the ancient word is revived with such precision and care that it becomes almost contemporary, and gets hold of the reader. It also amazed me that Pressfield captured the 'nature', the mentality and the ethos of the Greeks with such (unexpected) accuracy- still with some 'leniency'. Finally, although an 'historic novel', I believe this book can please anyone keen on literature in general.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent and stilted, 15 Oct 2010
By 
Isis (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Last Of The Amazons (Paperback)
Having heard good reports previously of Steven Pressfield's writing, I have to say that my overwhelming feeling here was disappointment. So many different aspects were poorly judged and spoiled the book for me to enjoy it terribly much. Firstly, the form of narration was far too convoluted and knotty. The book reads as a story within a story within a story - Bones as a grandmother telling the story of her adventures as a child, and during her adventures her uncle Damon recounts his own adventures as a young man and it's these which make up the main focus of most of the book. Not only is this incredibly convoluted, but you already know how the main story, Damon's tale, is going to end because of the situation and circumstances already described by Bones as she takes you into the story. This takes away all the tension from what should be the exciting climax of the book - the height of the siege of Athens.

It is also problematic because the book skips between narrators constantly, the four narrators being Bones, Damon, Selene and Elias. And this highlights another problem. The characters all feel very flat and one-dimensional, with little depth or fleshing out to them, and very little understanding of their deep motivations and reasons, their personalities. So when you shift between narrator there is virtually no change in tone or style, making it difficult for the reader to place where we are and what's meant to be happening - this is spelt out for us in each chapter, and that's the only way you can keep track of what's going on.

Pressfield takes a good stab at imagining the culture of a people about which there is very little if any definitive evidence, and may indeed be only myth and legend. However, this quickly becomes overcomplicated too and thus far too confusing. For example, the idea that Amazon warriors become organised into groups of three bond-sisters, called a "trikona", is an interesting one, although there's no evidence for it. However, Pressfield then goes further and has it that each Amazon is a concurrent member of three different "trikonae". The relationships within these three different groups are highly complex and regulated. It's simply just one example of many concepts that Pressfield comes up with that are confusing, lengthy, difficult to understand and not fully explained. Instead of being concise, clear, defined and precise, Pressfield only succeeds in confusing matters. Apart from the fact that his suggestions of Amazon culture have no basis in historical fact, their exact purpose within Amazon society in the novel is not clear either and it is a sign of poor writing to include elements in the story or indeed a society that basically have no apparent reason for having arisen or being in place.

The use of modernisms is immensely annoying throughout and constantly ruins the setting of the story. Anachronisms include Pressfield's imposition of modern sensibilities on his tale, writing Theseus as the pioneering leader of an Athenian democracy, a system which would not become established in Athens for another seven or eight centuries, instead of the autocratic king that he was in Greek mythology. Further, Pressfield is inconsistent in his naming practises throughout. Some characters are named by their actual Hellenistic name, for example, Damon, Selene, Theseus, and Antiope, but other characters are named by the translation of the meaning of their name, for example Bones, Ant, and Grey-Eyes.

I found the premise that Eleuthera could just lie about Antiope being kidnapped, when there were hundreds of witnesses who could clearly see she was in love with Theseus and had fled of her own will, and the entire Amazon nation just accept that, ridiculous. Also it just didn't feel plausible that all these other nations would throw their lot in with the Amazon cause, that Eleuthera would even be able to convince them to do so - not in a time of brutality and personal agenda. What would be in it for these allied nations? They'd probably consider it far easier just to march into the totally abandoned Amazon homeland whilst the Amazons moved their entire population to besiege Athens, and take the spoils from added territory bordering their own. Furthermore, besieging Athens is also not a realistic proposition for the Amazons either. They know that it is a walled city, that it can hold out for months. They have no siege technology whatsoever and no knowledge whatsoever of waging a siege, relying on an army of fast cavalry on the steppes of their homeland. Having swept through hostile territory without removing the enemies at their back, they would be cut off from the supplies needed to feed such a massive cavalry army. Simply put, this would have been military insanity. As a historian specialising in this period, I didn't buy it one bit.

Leaving aside the fact for the moment that the entire venture of the Amazons besieging Athens is completely ridiculous and unfeasible, the siege takes up the vast majority of the book and drags on for ages. The success of the Amazons' style of fighting throughout the siege makes no sense, and the scene where Antiope rides out and not only cuts down about 50 people but all of those the prime warriors of the enemy, without suffering exhaustion or crippling or fatal injury, is just unbelievable. The Amazons are written as overpoweringly better warriors than the Athenians, and they cut down so many that by the time the Amazons are beaten back, I just couldn't quite believe that the Athenians had enough fighters left to convincingly win the conflict!

Overall, the book is beset by confused narration, total lack of characterisation, overly complex postulations, confusing and repetitive scenes which don't make sense, and use of modernisms and inconsistency over names. The dialogue is also stilted and clichéd. Admittedly it could definitely be worse. Pressfield's command of language and grammar is more competent that some authors I've had the misfortune to read, however he needlessly complicates his language and doesn't understand how to effectively employ sophisticated language and grammar patterns, creating the effect of writing that is confusing, pompous, or painfully laughable; at times all three at once! At least Pressfield doesn't resort to stock characterisations of evil bad guys or include incidences of magic in what is supposed to be plausibly history. For those reasons, "Last of the Amazons" lifts itself above truly atrocious examples of literature, but Pressfield has missed the mark here.
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Last Of The Amazons
Last Of The Amazons by Steven Pressfield
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