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on 23 July 2002
I have literally just finished this book and I am sorry to have done so ... the pleasure that this book brought me is so great that I could easily pick it up again from the beginning.
Altough I suspect that the Italian original must be better than the English translation, as is usually the case, I found no fault in either the language or the story. It is like a breath of fresh air.
I found the way that the story is told so close to how real life is, that the unavoidable historical dicrepancies fade into insignificance. And after all who is there to know exactly how close this story is to the reality of the Ancient world? The pictures it paints are clearly believable and the life messages conveyed are valuable lessons about honesty, loyality, true love and fairness. Thus I highly recommend it to young people.
Its interesting story and the narrative flow keep your interest keen at all times and makes learning about life and customs in Ancient Greece a pleasure!
I look forward to reading the Alexander trilogy and any other book by Valerio Massimo Manfredi.
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on 10 February 2006
A fantastic read. I read Manfredi's tyrant before this and enjoyed that book but this one outstripped it totally. A fantastic portrayal of the Spartan customs and life, with a gripping plot that half way through I thought it was good enough to be a book in it's self and left in tears, the second half equally as good. WELL WORTH THE READ
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on 9 July 2004
I must say that I found this book hard to put down. I read 'The Last Legion' (same author) prior to reading 'Spartan' and was suprised by the difference in the two styles the author had used, Spartan was the better book and kept rolling along in such a way it was painful to put it down.
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on 28 September 2003
It has been a long time coming, but finally I have found a book I really enjoyed. From reading the first page right up until the end I was fascinated by the period in time that this book was set. The story is one to keep you hooked, needing to know what happens to the characters next! Velerio has done well with this one, and now I go forth to read his Alexander trilogy.
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2003
This is a well written book from a man evidently knowledgable about the period concerned. It lacks the pace and battle detail of Pressfield's Gates of Fire but covers a longer period of Spartan history.
We follow the life Talos from his birth and subsequent abandonment by his Spartan family to his upbringing as a Helot (slave)and his battle with his competing loyalties of blood and adoptive family.
This covers Thermopylae, famous for its sacrifice of 300 Spartan men, and onto the Helot uprising that followed. More could have been made of the battles fought by the Spartans but Talos' life brushes past this and I think that's where the story is let down.
Everyone knows about the Spartans reputation as "gods of battle" and any story of theirs makes you wish to hear about their exploits. However what we do get here is a better understanding of Spartan society, its strength and terminal weakness.
For those who are not aware of the end of Spartan society we find that their rigid rules and desire for "pure" blood led to their eventual extinction as a people.
This story is interesting but ultimately could have been something far greater.
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on 19 February 2003
Not a-par with the Alexander trilogy. Historical facts and fiction are much more "convoluted" here. But unlike the Alexander series, the extra fiction doesn't add to the readabillity of the book... A lot of "weaknesses" in the main character, probably due to its fictitius origins. This is also transfered in the central story where the author tries to "marry" Spartan and Helots lifes. The book is misleadingly called "Spartan". "Helot" would have been a more appropriate name.
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Wonderfully written, hugely evocative tale of heroism, war and betrayal. Focusing on the savage, martial Spartans (by far the most facinating of the ancient Greeks), Manfredi weaves his tale with great humanity and a fierce knowledge of the period.
While not matching Steven Pressfield's now classic 'Gates of Fire', and prone to bouts of portentousness (with a slightly elliptical ending), this remains a fascinating and compelling read.
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VINE VOICEon 22 October 2008
Manfredi can be a bit up and down on his books, but this along with the Alexander series is one of the best. As usualy the seamless blend of fact and fiction draw you into a past world in a gripping and entertaining way. This was out before the 300 and is much more history based than that film. Well worth a read, even if you are not necessarily a historical fiction fan
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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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on 30 March 2003
It's not easy to write this kind of story without swamping the characters and places with historical details. These were real people with real feelings, sometimes at variance with Spartan society, just as people are with their own cultures today. A thoroughly enjoyable read, the best historical I have read for a very long time.
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