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5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
Themeless And Without Plot
posted by Anonymous on April 20, 2004Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 20, 2004
Themeless And Without Plot
Michael Curtis Ford's narrative on the Greek mercenary army led by Xenophon into the regal struggle between Persian monarchs after the Peloponesian war. The narrative is recited by Themistogenes (Theo), Xenophon's slave from boyhood. Although the historical context offers potential for a great narrative if handled by a talented writer, Ford's rendition delivers nothing but shallow characters, and a disjointed plot that supports absolutely no theme except for a crude romantic tale. In terms of plot, the story starts in an unrelated Athenian campaign led by Xenophon that offers absolutely no insight into the story and confuses the reader. Although the story follows the preparation, execution, and ultimate failure of the mercenary expedition into Persia, the focus is primarily on Theo's perspective which is unimpressive and dull. All of the characters are minimally developed throughout the story which keeps the plot at an extremely dull level. Xenophon is placed as the heroic leader of the doomed expedition and should have the most development but is relegated to a marginal role. Instead, the story focuses on Theo who is more preoccupied with a rather unbelievable romantic sub-plot which completely takes away all force from the narrative. Half the story focuses primarily on Theo's affection for Asteria, a Persian woman of the court who, for rather nebulous reasons, decides to attach herself to a mere slave with no personality and no bright future. The emphasis on a romantic sub-plot really destroys the legitimacy of the narrative because no person of antiquity would write in this manner. Although romantic novels were written in ancient Greece, such narrative styles became prevalent over 2 centuries later during the Hellenic period and not the classical period in which Ford's story takes place. Furthermore, such romantic novels were drastically different than the crude sub-plot Ford drags on throughout his narrative: Greeks did not mix historiography and romance together which is what Ford unsuccessfully attempts here. The crude plot and minimal character development results in a story that is completely devoid of theme. What conflict and resolution is reflected here? How was it manifested by the characters? Again, other than a crudely executed romantic sub- plot, those questions are left unexplored and unresolved throughout the narrative. In sum, this work is horribly unimaginative. The characters do not evolve in the story. The only change in the characters occurs in the context of a sub-plot that is completely out of place for such a narrative and thus the credibility and legitimacy of the narrative is progressively eroded to the point of being themeless. Ford's work slightly improves in his second novel 'Gods and Legions' but that work has critical flaws of its own. Being rather unimpressed with two of Ford's novels so far, I'm not about to waste my money on his third.
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.