Last of the Amazons

( 30 )

Overview

The author of the international bestsellers Gates of Fire and Tides of War delivers his most gripping and imaginative novel of the ancient world–a stunning epic of love and war that breathes life into the grand myth of the ferocious female warrior culture of the Amazons.

Steven Pressfield has gained a passionate worldwide following for his magnificent novels of ancient Greece, Gates of Fire and Tides of War. In Last of the Amazons, Pressfield has surpassed himself, re-creating a...

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Last of the Amazons

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Overview

The author of the international bestsellers Gates of Fire and Tides of War delivers his most gripping and imaginative novel of the ancient world–a stunning epic of love and war that breathes life into the grand myth of the ferocious female warrior culture of the Amazons.

Steven Pressfield has gained a passionate worldwide following for his magnificent novels of ancient Greece, Gates of Fire and Tides of War. In Last of the Amazons, Pressfield has surpassed himself, re-creating a vanished world in a brilliant novel that will delight his loyal readers and bring legions more to his singular and powerful restoration of the past.

In the time before Homer, the legendary Theseus, King of Athens (an actual historical figure), set sail on a journey that brought him into the land of tal Kyrte, the “free people,” a nation of proud female warriors whom the Greeks called “Amazons.” The Amazons, bound to each other as lovers as well as fighters, distrusted the Greeks, with their boastful talk of “civilization.” So when the great war queen Antiope fell in love with Theseus and fled with the Greeks, the mighty Amazon nation rose up in rage.

Last of the Amazons is not merely a masterful tale of war and revenge. Pressfield has created a cast of extraordinarily vivid characters, from the unforgettable Selene, whose surrender to the Greeks does nothing to tame her; to her lover, Damon, an Athenian warrior who grows to cherish the wild Amazon ways; to the narrator, Bones, a young girl from a noble family who was nursed by Selene from birth and secretly taught the Amazon way; to the great Theseus, the tragic king; and to Antiope, the noble queen who betrayed tal Kyrte for the love of Theseus.

With astounding immediacy and extraordinary attention to military detail, Pressfield transports readers into the heat and terror of war. Equally impressive is his creation of the Amazon nation, its people, its rituals and myths, its greatness and savagery. Last of the Amazons is thrilling on every page, an epic tale of the clash between wildness and civilization, patriotism and love, man and woman.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Writing historical fiction that transports you to another time and place is no easy feat, but in Last of the Amazons, Steven Pressfield does just that. He makes the distant past seem real and immediate. This is historical fiction elevated to the status of myth.”
–Daniel Silva, author of The English Assassin

From the Hardcover edition.

From The Critics
A group of brave female warriors are at the turbulent center of this tale of violence and passion from the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance. Led by the Amazon queen Antiope, the group—called tal Kyrte, or "the Free"—is tough and resilient. The tranquillity of their independent nation is broken when a band of male Greek soldiers, led by King Theseus, enters the tribe's territory. And when Antiope falls for Theseus, her infuriated subjects seek revenge, igniting a bloody war. Pressfield's attention to military detail fuels the action in this fantastical novel.
—Michael Phillips

Publishers Weekly
Writing about ancient Greece with rich historical detail, passion and drama, Pressfield has previously dramatized the battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire) and the Peloponnesian War (Tides of War). Here, he steps further back in time, to 1250 B.C., when the civilized Greek city-state of Athens confronts the barbaric empire of the Amazons in a titanic struggle for survival. The novel does not pack the emotional punch of Pressfield's other Greek fiction, but it still rings with the clamor and horror of close combat, sword on shield, battle-ax on helmet and javelins thudding into armor. The Amazon kingdom, peopled and ruled by a ferocious society of female warriors, occupies land near the Black Sea. The Amazon war queen, Antiope, leads an army of female warriors feared for their savage cruelty and hatred of the Greeks. When Theseus, the Greek king of Athens, journeys into Amazon territory, he and Antiope spar verbally, but fall in love, creating a dilemma for both. Antiope forswears her allegiance to the Amazon life and flees with Theseus back to Athens to become his wife. Antiope's successor, her Amazon lover, Eleuthera, vows to wipe out Athens to erase the shame and treachery of Antiope and Theseus's marriage. She leads a mighty invasion of Greece, culminating in a long siege and a climactic battle before Athens's great walls. Amid the carnage, gore and violence, Pressfield presents a love story so grand it pits nations against one another. Pressfield's javelin is his pen and he wields it well in this gruesome tale of ancient blood lust in an age when there is no word for mercy. (May 21) Forecast: Bestselling and critically acclaimed to boot, Pressfield has the market for contemporary popularizations of ancient Greece sewn up. Last of the Amazons isn't quite as good as his first two, but it should flirt with bestseller lists nonetheless. (Pressfield is also the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Pressfield (Gates of Fire, Tides of War) offers yet another epic tale of the ancient world. Equal parts scholarly research and fictional retelling of the mythologies of ancient Greece, as handed down to us by Homer and Plutarch, this new novel re-creates the final days of a race of warrior women. In approximately 1250 B.C.E., Theseus, King of Athens, embarks upon a journey to the Amazonian homeland in what is now southern Russia. There he meets and falls in love with Antiope, the Amazon queen, who accompanies him home to Athens. Some accounts indicate that Antiope was forced to leave her people, but in Pressfield's rendition she elected to follow Theseus. Enraged, the Amazons journey to Athens, where they lay siege to the city in an effort to regain their queen and their honor. The aftermath of this war finds the Amazon women diminished in number from over 150,000 to just a couple thousand in the span of 20 years. Pressfield's splendid tale of valor, honor, and comradeship memorializes those women whose lives and deeds have faded into the mists of legend. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/01.] Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553382044
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 281,765
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

STEVEN PRESSFIELD is the author of the novels The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, and Tides of War. He lives in Los Angeles.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

1

A TAME AMAZON

When I was a girl I had a nurse who was a tame Amazon. Of course such expression is a misnomer, as one of that race may be domesticated no more than an eagle or a she-wolf. Selene however (this was her name, "Moon") had been detached at age nine from her skyle--the words for "battalion" and "family" being the same in the Amazon tongue--and sent to dwell among civilized society, at Sinope on the Black Sea, and had thus become conversant with settlement ways. She could not endure such confinement however; at age twelve she stole a horse and weapons and fled home to the Wild Lands. As a grown warrior Selene fought at Thorn Hill against the Trojans and Dardanians, at Chalcedon against the Rhipaean Scyths, and at the Halys against the fifty sons of Admetus. She could speak Greek and served both as adjutant and envoy, as well as commanding in the hippotoxotai, the fabled Corps of Mounted Archers. She held the rank of wing captain in the Great Battle of Athens, in which Theseus and his allies of the Twelve States, after months of fighting, at last beat back the army of women.

Selene surrendered shield and bridle at the pass between Parnes and Cithaeron, where the graves of Amazons may still be seen, alongside her lover Eleuthera, "Freedom," who bore numerous wounds, and to secure whose ransom and release Selene yielded up her own liberty. Selene was never shackled or stockaded in my father's service, but held by her word alone, and so served honorably, governing my sister, Europa, and me until my sister's fourteenth (and my eleventh) year.

You eldest of my daughters reckon the bloodbath that transpired at that season. Each year I recount the tale on this eve of the festival of the Boedromia, beneath that horns-skyward crescent called by men an Amazon moon. None of male sex, father, brother, husband, or son, may learn this chronicle now or ever, nor any fraction, so have we all sworn, even you youngest, donating our blood in the Iron Rite of Ares. Repeat with me now: who abjures this vow shall perish at our hands, so pledge we all.

Arise now, children. You youngest, take the hands of your sisters and follow me, Mother Bones, into the outer court. None will disturb us here. Double your overcloaks and set them in a ring upon the earth. The night is warm. Nestle at one another's sides, resting your backs against the walls or trees. There. Let us form the Moon Crescent whose name is labrys, "double axe," while I at its apex recite our lore. Listen well, daughters. Each verse I narrate, sear into memory. You eldest, who have heard the tale each autumn as you grew, accept this charge: if I alter so much as one stanza, bring me to book upon it, for our incantation wants naught of legend but truth alone. And when you come to impart this history to your own daughters, recall this commission and transmit these wonders uncorrupted, as I to you.

Selene feared the race of men. They exuded self-dignity, what she named anaedor, "no breath" or "without soul." She called Greeks "stick people," by which she meant they creaked, stiff and wooden. Nor did she confine such reproach to men, but included Mother as well, and the women of our farm and of Attica entire, of whose behavior Selene could make no sense and in the presence of whose everyday acts, as the haggling with vendors or the chastising of servants, she often lowered her gaze, a gesture I have seen repeated by others among the Amazons, whose notation is of embarrassment for the actor observed and the courtly wish not to compound this by making her conscious of a witness.

Selene feared this quality in men, this obliviousness. It was what permitted them to tread on a beetle and not hear its cry, or rend the sheath of the earth with a plough and not feel her anguish. Yet Selene and her race, as all savage nations, were capable of appalling cruelty. God help the man, or woman, who fell into their clutches when they defended their honor or painted their faces for war.

Amazons believe in hate. Hatred is sacred to Ate, to Hecate and Black Persephone, and to Ares as well, whom they call with the nymph Harmonia their progenitor. Ephesian Artemis, whom they worship, was the greatest hater ever, they claim, surnamed Void of Mercy, and even Harmonia, whose name means concord to civilized folk, means rancor in their tongue. Amazons believe that mothers hate daughters and daughters mothers, that sea hates sky, and night day. The world is held together by hate, which is in their lexicon a bounty and divine dispensation. Lovers must hate one another before they may love, and to this end the bonding ritual which Amazon novices perform at eight and twelve, when they formalize their trikonai, the notorious "bonds of three," is constituted of a savage type of hand-to-hand brawling they call anitome, "anytime anywhere." Kicking, biting, eye gouging, all are sanctioned. The elders form a circle about the fighting girls, plying with horsewhips any combatant perceived as slack in her attack. Once over, the fight and its memory, the Amazons believe, form a bond which endures such that no warrior thus bound may ever desert another.

Selene cuffed Europa and me regularly. Nor were these love pats, but such blows as to fetch us off our feet. As frequently she caressed us, and many times must be scolded by Mother or Father for expressing affection at inappropriate moments, as in the presence of priests or elders. She slept in our beds, or we in hers, till we were six.

The shield and bridle that Selene had surrendered were objects of supreme fascination to my sister and me. Father did not display these as trophies, not wishing to dishonor Selene; in fact he sought more than once to return them. Selene would not take them. They came to be stored in a chest in the loft above Father and Mother's room. Europa and I soon learned to pick the lock; we would mount to the attic and linger all afternoon, absorbed in the scent and sensation of these artifacts. We marveled at the workmanship of the bridle, which was ox-hide rimmed with ivory and electrum, the right cheekpiece depicting a griffin taking down an elk, the left a crescent moon, and a snaffle bit of pure gold. Selene's shield was of bearskin, from the densest pack across the shoulders, crescent-shaped and three layers thick, laminated with a glue of elk sinew and faced with the skin of a black leopard. On one's arm it felt like a timbrel drum, taut in its ash frame, astonishingly strong for something so light.

Selene smelled. Mother would not permit her into the formal rooms of the house, as the odor she exhaled, so Mother claimed, clung to every garment, to her hair, and even to the walls themselves. "Can you not smell it, children? Good God, what a stink!" Mother chased our governess, often with a broom, to peals of our laughter. For Selene's part, she abhorred the house and entered it only under compulsion, as civilized folk will a tomb. She could not hear in a house. I recall Father, seeking to chastise her for some transgression, calling her before his big counting desk. "Why the devil won't you listen, Selene?" Her silence drove him wild. Finally he realized she could only hear him if he bespoke her out of doors. Soft worked better than hard. No blow or threat availed, nor gifts, however precious, to bend her counter to her will.

Selene permitted herself a solitary vanity: her hair, which was jet, of such luxuriance as to appear almost beyond human. She curried it as a horse's mane, of which it reminded me, and dressed it, apart from men's eyes, in the following manner. The top mass was first thrown forward from a part running ear to ear across the crown. The horsetail falling rearward was divided in four parts and cinched by four silver clasps, one for each cardinal direction. These were lifted off the neck and rolled together into a sort of broad horizontal bun, as gentlewomen of Cyrene do, which was then bound tight to the rear of the head by an ox-hide thong called xaella, "clothesline," which itself is wrapped four turns about the head. The xaella is a weapon, a garrote. Its ends are tipped in elk horn and etched with the battle-axe of Ares. Once the rear was set, the thrown-forward forepeak would be drawn back, half of its mass cinched at the crown, to form a horsetail with its excess, the remainder woven in among the four quarters. The effect of this, either loose or topped with the Phrygian cap of doeskin, was both glamorous and fear-evoking, as the mass of hair seemed at once to make its wearer half a head taller and, as well, provide a helmet of its own, to cushion a fall or blow. The worst thrashing Europa and I ever received from Mother came when she discovered us dressing our hair in this fashion.

It became Selene's wont, each autumn round the anniversary of the Great Battle of Athens, to "borrow" javelins and steed by night from Father's stable and make away into the hills, holding fugitive for as long as a fortnight. At the first of these decampments, Father outfitted posses and published bounties for her recapture. Yet it became clear that no rider could overhaul her, or face her wrath if he did, but that Selene, left to her devices, would return of her own, sated by whatever trials or wonders she had undergone and content to serve out her sentence, so to say, for another twelvemonth. Never would our governess recount her adventures, despite Europa's and my most piteous pleadings, save in the form of songs, whose verses appeared nonsense at first but later came to impart their cargo of wisdom.

These rideaways, as we called them on the farm, became if not condoned, then tolerated. My father came even to joke of them, inquiring of Selene when she planned to fly the coop this year, that he might draft his schedule around the date and hire on in advance a surrogate to supervise the children. Selene herself could not predict the hour of her absconding. She went when she went.

The bucks of the farm called Selene "Titless"--what they in ignorance took A-mazos to mean--though never to her face. In fact the term Amazon derives from the Cimmerian Ooma Zyona, "Daughters of the Horse." This was meant pejoratively. The Cimmerians (who only acquired horsemanship latterly) sought to offer insult to their rivals of the plains. The Amazons viewed this with contempt. They never use the word Amazon to describe themselves; Selene employed it only in converse with Greeks and then grudgingly, because it had gained currency. Likewise she transposed Amazon names into Greek, as Alcippe, "Powerful Mare," or Melanippe, "Black Mare."

They lusted after Selene, the swains of the farm, as they did all the maids, nor was Selene averse to grappling with him she favored, yet none could temper her or draw an uncoerced smile. Only beneath music's spell would she relent, the proper tune proffered by the proper suitor, and then only with such a sorrowful and distant measure as to render her yet more remote.

There had been others of Selene's kind in Attica then, taken like her of wounds after the Great Battle. Several had been made mistresses; others placed in service. All ran off. Chained or bound, they died. Only Selene, constrained by her pledge and her care for my sister and me, abided. She acquired notoriety. Town people would contrive occasion to visit the farm, nosing about to observe one of that race called in the Scythian tongue oiorpata, "man killers." "Has her right breast indeed been seared off, to better draw the bow?" "Do you permit her near weapons?" "What holds her from running?"

Once a dame of the district of Melite, the aunt of Prince Atticus, to whom my sister would become betrothed, upbraided my father for exposing his daughters to such unholy influence. "The children will grow to be savages! Who will teach them to card and spin? How will they learn to hold seemly silence?"

My father believed girls should ride and run, nor grow effeminate, squeamish to take game or trek alone in the dark. Who better to impart such arts than a wing captain of Amazonia? Father admired Selene. He wore his custody of her with a covert pride, as one might holding the leash on a she-bear or a lioness. He felt protective of her. For men hated Selene on sight, and women more so, which phenomenon never failed to both stir and alarm my sister and me, and in the presence of which both of us were struck with a rage we could neither name nor exonerate.

Theseus himself, lord of Athens, owned acquaintance of Selene and had dispatched communications to her on occasion, including gifts which she disdained and, to our awe, discarded. On a spring noon in my eleventh year the king traveled out specifically to speak with her. Never had there been such a day! Here down our lane advanced Theseus, monarch of Athens and Eleusis, master of Crete and the islands; he who had brought the dominion of law to Attica, binding within one polity the fractious barons and purging the land, in Myrinus' phrase, of the brigands of misrule.

Theseus was our father's kinsman, the king's mother Aethra and Father's mother Polycaste being cousins, and both Father and his brother Damon had accompanied Theseus a generation previous on his first voyage to the Amazon Sea; yet never in memory had he trod the stones of our estate. He arrived by carriage, not horse or foot, for he had broken a bone in his thigh some days prior and must gimp about by means of a forked staff. Ah, yet, when he came! Who had beheld a handsomer man! Taller by half a head than my father, himself tallest of the district, and carved as from oak. The pelt of his forearms, burnished gold from the sun, made me shiver, and his curls falling to his shoulders bore such a sheen as put one in mind of wild harts and martens. It took slender imagination to understand how Antiope, the Amazon queen, could have fallen so beneath his spell as to desert her own kind and even do battle against them, at this monarch's side.

My sister and I scrutinized great Theseus' apparel: a simple white tunic with a blue border and a rust-colored overcloak, clamped with a brooch of gold in the shape of a sponge. Here was the story:

Once during Theseus' early tenure as king, a commoner had approached the palace seeking a hearing. He was informed that our lord was at his bath; entry was permitted to no one. But the king heard the man at the gate and motioned his guardsmen to relent. He received the fellow while still in the tub and rendered his judgment, which happened to be favorable. When the nobles learned of this they were outraged by its want of dignity. But the gesture endeared Theseus to the commons, so that to this day to act "from the bathtub" means to bypass channels and move immediately with compassion. In gratitude the petitioner presented Theseus with a golden charm in the shape of a sponge, which the king prized beyond all other honors and set in place on his garment, men said, before even his brooches of royalty.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

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(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Slow start and a great ending

    I am an avid fan of Steven Pressfield, having read The Afghan Campaign ( a must read for anyone who wonders why we are having so much difficulty in our conflict in that country) and,The Gates of Fire. Presently I am reading The Virtues of War. Unlike the aforementioned books, The Last Amazon lacked anything that held my interest until page 104. In fact I nearly gave up on the book until that point. From page 105 to the finish, I was hooked and could hardly put the book down. I was near tears on finishing this book. If like me, you find the first several chapters less than exciting, please hang in there

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2005

    Pressfield Keeps Getting Better

    This is the third Steven Pressfield book I've read, behind Gates of Fire and Tides of War, and I have to say he has improved consistently. Gates of Fire was a timeless tale of valor and sacrifice but the characters seemed one-dimensional and Pressfield omitted the negative aspects of Spartan life. In Tides of War, the characters are more realistic, except for Alcibiades, and you can understand the motivations behind their actions. In both stories the battle scenes are riveting, as they are in Last of the Amazons. Nobody can put you into the middle of an ancient battle like Pressfield, except for maybe Xenophon and he was in the battles he describes. Last of the Amazons tells the story of the shared fate of the Amazonian and Athenian nations. One would go on to extinction and eventually mythology while the other would become the template for western civilization. A lot of people are impressed by the nobility of the Amazonians but I found myself identifying with the tenacity of the Athenians. They didn't fight out of honor or courage, they fought because they had no choice. They didn't succeed because of their skills on the battle field but because they were willing to do the grunt work that their opponents were not willing to do. In the real world, I think battles and wars are often won this way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Last of the Amazons is an interesting combination of the histori

    Last of the Amazons is an interesting combination of the historical style Pressfield is known for and the action-packed story telling that marks most of his novels. Unlike Gates of Fire, which is the most similar of his works I could liken it to, Last of the Amazons is more mythological than historical. The plot gets lost in the action from time to time, but that's fairly standard for Pressfield and nothing fans of the genre will be turned off by.

    As books about Amazons go, this is definitely one of the best out there. If you're looking for quintessential Pressfield ancient Greek fiction, I'd recommend Gates of Fire. If you're looking for another book about Amazons with similar mythology, I'd recommend Anaxilea Amazon Princess.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2011

    Worth or not?

    Is it worth the money or not?

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  • Posted July 21, 2011

    Not for the faint of heart

    I loved this book. Once you start reading you cannot put it down!

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  • Posted September 8, 2010

    Pressfield creates another masterpiece!

    I just re-read this book and it was still a great read. Pressfield writes a story about mythology so well it reads like history. Pressfield fills out the Amazon culture to such a degree it makes you feel as though you have just visited there. The reader can see how this culture influences how the Amazons act, and react when their queen falls in love with Theseus, king of Athens, and abandons the Amazon culture and way of life. The cheracters have emotional depth and are often noble yet tragic. The battle scenes are gripping, exciting, and keep you on the edge of your seat. After they are over the reader feels thouroughly schooled in the art of ancient warfare. The book also brings up questions about not only man's relationship to women, but his relationship to nature and civilization.
    Don't listen to others on this board who say this book is vapid. They are morons. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes historical fiction, acnient cultures, and just wants a really good read. After you read this book, go get Pressfield's other books, they are all great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2007

    Disappointed

    I can appreciate the author's attempt to recreate the Homeric epic but I find his writing style to be very inconsistent. The language used throughout the story vacillates between archaizing and contemporary writing styles which makes this work come across as a cheap imitation of a Homeric epic. Aside from the writing style, the plot is decent--not great. His Amazon warriorresses could use some more characterization, they lack the necessary depth for the reader to actually care about their struggles and history. I am about three quarters of the way through the book and have found it rather difficult to finish due to it's vapidness.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2004

    A beautiful blend of history and mythology

    Pressfield does not appear on the shelves devoted for science fiction and fantasy. In very important ways, he is operating in a different arena. We believe this is due to the fact that Pressfield¿s earlier books dealt specifically with historical events and only now is he moving to the more speculative realm of mythology. But Pressfield is not doing anything different than the many authors attempting to write about the mythology surrounding King Arthur (which are, of course, legion). What is refreshing is that Pressfield, who already is identified as a good scholar and authority on classical literature, has made an offering to the realm of speculative fiction and that elevates the entire genre. Its 5 is deserved (even if a touch disappointing) and it is a welcome breath of new possibilities to serve as examples for other authors not to mention a solace of respectability for the genre. WHO SHOULD READ THIS: It¿s hard for we men to decide what is good for women, but female readers, we believe¿and most especially young women¿will identify with Amazons and read it with great relish. Fans of Pressfield¿s earlier books will also find the shift to mythology engaging and refreshing. High school and perhaps introductory college courses could do much worse than assigning Amazons as part of the regular course syllabus. We¿re great believers in historical fiction in general and this is a splendid blend of mythology and history. WHO SHOULD PASS: The language is extremely formal and nobody in the book laughs much nor is having a particularly good life. There is a great deal of bloodshed. Moreover, there is a pervasive pall of grief cast over the entire book. If you¿re looking for something optimistic, fun, or something that will cause you to laugh, then go somewhere else. If your urge to read is centered around narrative perspective then you¿ll also be rather disappointed with this book. This book is for classical scholars, historians, and lovers of mythology and/or Greek philosophy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2004

    Vapid Narrative

    After reading 'Tides of War' and 'Gates of Fire', I found this work to be a major disappointment: almost as if it was written by another writer altogether. The narrative reads as a feeble rhetorical exercise trying to capture the Homeric style but failing to deliver any passion: a pale imitation, nothing more. The characters are rather bland without any dimensions; their actions and motivations surpass the foreigness of time and culture and descend into absurd conventional cliches. The plot seemed to be overextended in every chapter with long pompous dialogues and monologues that fail to provide any character development: it simply put me to sleep. I expected more from an author such as Pressfield than this unimpressive work. I wouldn't recommend this poor pseudo-epic to any one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2002

    Doesn't Quite Match Gates of Fire

    Seeking a reprise of Steven Pressfield's marvelously executed GATES OF FIRE, I happily ordered this book shortly after it came out. And it proved to be nicely done, no doubt about it. Yet it was somewhat overwritten, I fear, and evidenced a loss of that authorial discipline which may come on the heels of previous successes, when one, who has written some bang-up bestsellers, feels he is free to stretch his artistic wings in new and unheralded ways. This tale is told in a multiplicity of voices, all filtered through a single voice, and is, therefore, rather complex in its unfolding, as an old woman of Athens recounts to her female audience her recollections of Amazon history and prowess, mostly recalled through the eyes of others who were participants in the story and who subsequently relayed their recollections to her. This device, while intriguing, was somewhat tirsome and, truth to tell, not entirely convincing. Though the tale moved forward smartly enough most of the time, it faltered, I think, as it approached its end and Pressfield sought to sustain the narrative beyond its natural reach. It seemed, in fact, to go on interminably as each chapter which should have ushered in a dramatic end to the tale was succeeded by another and a further development. There is a surprise waiting on the final pages but by the time I'd gotten to it, I'd nearly lost interest. In truth, Pressfield has here done a very nice job of recreating what might have been the world of the Amazons on the southern steppes of today's Russia, and that clash of cultures which may have occurred when Bronze Age Greek adventurers stumbled across them, as seems to be echoed in the remnants of old Greek legend, but his story is over the top in the end. He takes too long to spin out the tale and the complex artifice he has adopted for the telling works against the matter. More, his characters never spring fully to life. I could not easily differentiate Damon from Elias, or even the idealized Theseus (with whom I could never entirely empathise) from Prince Atticus, while Eleuthera and Selene and Antiope and Hyppolita all seemed to me little more than archetypes. The writing, indeed, was expansively poetic and in places well-wrought enough to move me but there was too much of this, as well. Over and over again, the narrators, Selene or Damon, through the voice of Bones, repeat the same chant-like litany of names and peoples. It grew to be too much and overly distracting. In sum, I am led to conclude that Pressfield, riding the crest of his recent successes, has here let himself go artistically . . . and who is to nay-say such a successful writer? Unwilling or unable to bring his narrative to a natural conclusion, he lets it spin out too long, with apparent ending after apparent ending, until the reader (or this reader at least) grows tired of the effort. While the first half was brisk and enjoyable to read, the second, with its war against Athens, was much slower, despite the action on the field, and marred by an overemphasis on the military campaign to the detriment of its participants' characters. He did, as already noted however, do a very fine job of bringing the legendary Amazon nation to life, even if his characters were less than real. It's painful to be so critical here since I am a fan of Pressfield since GATES OF FIRE, but I suppose it is hard to sustain the champion's pace all the time. SWM

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2002

    Mediocre at Best

    As a fan of Gates of Fire, I eagerly snatched up Last of the Amazons when it came out. To say I was disappointed is an understatement! This novel covers the love triangle of Amazon Warrioresses, the Greeks that tempted them (and eventually brought about their downfall), and their Amazon lovers. The narrative is painfully slow and dry with pieces of over-the-top dialogue that could only have been written by a man. An example, 'You reek of mare-stink from between your thighs...' Puh-leez! What could have been a great book exploring the Amazon culture turned into a boring treatise on horsemanship in ancient times. If you like historical novels, treat yourself to the Roma Sub Rosa series by Steven Saylor or even Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series. Pressfield, while a great scholar, just doesn't have the narrative prowess to pull off a novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2002

    Ancient Legend Becomes Real

    The only other book of Mr. Pressman's I have read is Gates of Fire, which was excellent, but this tops it. The reader is immersed in the warlike culture of the Amazons, which the author makes believable in vivid detail. He has no peer in his description of battle scenes. A great story, well told.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2002

    Pressfield always impresses

    Pressfield has once again not only entertained me but educated me. After reading this book, I felt nothing but complete admiration for the Amazon race (just as I did for the Spartans after reading Gates of Fire and the Athenians after reading Tides of War). The book was not as good as Pressfield's classic Gates of Fire (he, understandably, may never again hit upon such greatness), but it is very good. The last thirty pages flipped by in a blur as I got so caught up in the story's conclusion. The only reason I did not give the book five stars is because the way Pressfield used more than one narrator is confusing at times (especially at the beginning before I could figure out exactly what was going on). Overall, Last of the Amazons is highly recommended. I hope Pressfield continues writing ancient historical fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2002

    PRESSFIELD DOES IT AGAIN!

    In his newest work, of which I read the ARC, Steven Pressfield has done it again, he has written a great historical epic! In his latest work he mixes both fact and myth to tell the story of the meeting of the Greek of Athens and the Amazon women of lore. Part adventure, part love story, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat! You will never forget some of the battles including the siege of Athens. Better than 'Tides of War' and as good as the classic 'Gates of Fire' this book is a sure thing!

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    Posted February 7, 2009

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