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Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Review of Gates of Fire

This book is about the Spartans and their stand at the Battle of Thermopylae so at the very least the theme could be to fight for what is right and not to give up. As already mentioned this novel is about the Greek forces and their stand at Thermopylae, the years buildi...
This book is about the Spartans and their stand at the Battle of Thermopylae so at the very least the theme could be to fight for what is right and not to give up. As already mentioned this novel is about the Greek forces and their stand at Thermopylae, the years building up to it, and the Persian War. Additionally, the book is narrated by a man named Xeones who was a squire for a Spartiate soldier and outlander from Sparta who came there as a child after his parents were killed and his village burned. He was captured after the battle and was the lone survivor among the Greek forces with many injuries that would eventually cause his death. He tells the story of his life building up to the Battle of Thermopylae to the King of Persia at that time; King Xerxes. I enjoyed this book as it has large amounts of action and is very descriptive, it also is a great read for anyone who is interested in ancient war history (particularly Greece). The author, Steven Pressfield, also writes books dealing with other ancient battles and wars in a similar way (a fictional narrator talking about real events) such as Tides of War.
Xeones is a young man of average stature who is very well built with shoulder length hair. Things that are important to him are his country, his family, and his brother soldiers. His motivation is his need to fight and if necessary die for his country so long as he can be thought of by his Spartan brothers as a fellow soldier, "At that moment, I didn't really care that I was going to die. All that mattered was I was finally needed, and recognized by my fellow warriors as a soldier" (pg.323). He overcomes obstacles in a variety of ways, he will usually think his way through challenges but when this does not work he will usually have to just tough it out which is what made him so strong. Throughout the book he learned to be mentally and physically tough and that country and family, above all, are important.
War is a global theme in the book that affects everyone; the characters are affected by it as all of the male characters die due to it (including the narrator), "A cry of grief as I had never heard tore from my master's breast," (pg. 344). War does not only affect the events of the book, war is the reason for the events in the book. Everything that occurs is due to war, specifically, the Persian War. A statement that could be made based on the global theme is that war is horrible; it brings out the best and the worst in people and kills many.
This book was chosen for the bestseller list for the author's use of imagery and for its creative presentation of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Persian War. I completely agree with this decision as it is a great piece of writing and if you enjoy action/adventure books that carefully feed you information in a rationed manner that still allows for a book that flows well this book is a great choice.

posted by 2340684 on December 3, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Easy read with ancient-sounding prose

Has something of the sound of Homer to it, but in a way that is very approachable and readable. The story is told in first-person, the story of a Spartan from his youth as a villager to his coming into the world of war. It's interesting as a plot but the story-telling i...
Has something of the sound of Homer to it, but in a way that is very approachable and readable. The story is told in first-person, the story of a Spartan from his youth as a villager to his coming into the world of war. It's interesting as a plot but the story-telling is what I'm really recommending. It really gave me the feeling that books did when I was a child reading them, that I was being spirited away to another place and time.

posted by cookywriter on January 4, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2011

    Never purchase from this author again!!

    I have to say that this book was one of the worst I have ever read. First of all the author was ALL OVER THE PLACE with this book and the characters as well. You never knew what took place or what time he was talking about. I found it was very hard to follow and I read a lot of books. I love history and especially about the Spartans but this was something I could not get into and I would stay away from this author in the future knowing how his style of writing is now. If you want to be confused and oblivious throughout this book, by all means please read it. But I found it utterly confusing and not enjoyable. It saw the dumpster very early after receiving it!!!

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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