I bought this book because I had been impressed by Tom Holland's previous book Rubicon, and I have to say it is as easily read as that book. It is a tale well told, or at least well enough. I also have to say that it reads like just Herodatus translated and jazzed up. As a result of the latter process, the book probably contains a record number of clichés - ranging from tabloid headlines (shock and awe, terrorist states, etc ad nauseam) to (unacknowledged) quotes or reminiscences of Shakespeare, Milton, etc, not excepting the Bible and a few (unreferenced) classical authors. There is a surprising array of ordinary, everyday clichés too. This made the book a bit tedious at times, and made me suspect it was lazily put together. Some of the notes refer to authors, or books, not mentioned in the bibliography. I am not a scholar, but I sometimes like to follow up interesting leads. Still, this is perhaps being a mite too serious - the story courses along, and the narrative tries to balance the Greeks and the Persian perspectives. The battle narratives are brisk, which I think I like, as I find it hard to visualise complex manoeuvers sometimes. The background on Persians and Medes is new to me, and he integrates asides on Greek life very smoothly with the narrative. It is just so much poorer than the previous one. I have also bought his Millenium, but am now no longer in such a hurry to read it.