In Kithairon's Shadow: A Novel of Ancient Greece and the Persian Warby Jon Edward Martin
In 480 B.C., Xerxes I, king of the Persian Empire, led a vast and uncountable army intent on the domination of Europe. Only a tiny collection of Greek city-states stood in his path. At Thermopylae the Persians annihilated a small holding force commanded by King Leonidas of Sparta, then quickly marched on to Athens, reducing the city to ruins. Outnumbered and beset by treachery, Sparta, Athens and their allies gathered near the town of Plataea for one final battle. The future of Western civilization hung on the outcome. In Kithairon's Shadow is the story of five men from ancient Greece and the parts they would play in determining their future, and ours.
- iUniverse, Incorporated
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)
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In Kithairon's Shadow provides detail about the little known battle of Plataea, fourth of the major battles of the Persian invasion of Greece. The style is different than other historical authors of this period - instead of following one main character, Martin chose to create 5 character threads, and it is a little confusing for someone without some previous knowledge of the history. The characters are secondary to the plot, which was the massive invasion of Greece by Xerxes of Persia and the final land battle that occured in 479 BCE. If you are looking for romance or deep psychological probing of characters, look elsewhere - if you want action and almost raw facts spun into a great tale, the book will satisfy. The chapters are short forming an almost snapshot style approach that challenges the reader to connect the dots. It seem to follow Herodotus faithfully without too much fabrication of events, or customs as Pressfield builds into his novels (Gates of Fire, Tides of War). It proved to be an entertaining alternative to learning about history without the tedium of a textbook. A must read for anyone who wants to follow the Spartans of Gates of Fire or 300, to their victory over the Persian Empire.
It's about time someone wrote about the battle of Plataea! Thermopylae and Salamis get all the press, but this was THE battle that saved Greece and the West. It begins a little slowly, mostly to set up the 'history', but the author, using real characters from Herodotus, relates the story from the human level in his attempt to explain a complicated event. Other authors dwell on the Spartans, or the Athenians, but Martin does a good job of taking an average farmer from a small city-state and through him tries to explain the battle through the eyes of the 'common man'. For a person like me who has studied more than a little about ancient Greece, the vocabulary could be handled, but the casual reader might be slowed down with the Greek names, although a glossary is included. All in all, I highly recommed it.
At times the book is challenging to keep pace with, because it trys to follow five characters, but the story of the battle of Plataea is recounted accurately. The names are tough (but again historically accurate)and the reader gets every point of view, Greek andPersian, farmer and aristocrat. The battle scenes get a bit graphic, but no more so than a Pressfield novel. If you want to find out what happened after Thermoyplae, In Kithairon's Shadow will be well worth the read.