Shades Of Artemisby Jon Edward Martin
Shades of Artemis recounts the life of Brasidas, Sparta's most audacious commander, from his upbringing in the Spartan military school called the Agoge to his induction into the ranks of the ancient world's finest warriors. Overcoming petty jealousies and the politics of his own country, he finally rises to the rank of general and embarks on a daring mission to
Shades of Artemis recounts the life of Brasidas, Sparta's most audacious commander, from his upbringing in the Spartan military school called the Agoge to his induction into the ranks of the ancient world's finest warriors. Overcoming petty jealousies and the politics of his own country, he finally rises to the rank of general and embarks on a daring mission to bring Athens to its knees and an end to the Peloponnesian War. With the death of Pericles, the politician Kleon becomes the architect of war policy in Athens, directing the strategy against Sparta. Thucydides, the Athenian general and chronicler of the conflict, bears witness to the brutality of ancient combat, the devastating plague that strikes his city, and the ambition of fellow Athenians that rely on war to sustain them. In the last quarter of the fifth century BC, these three men would meet in battle on the plains of northern Greece and determine the course of Western Civilization's first world war.
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Shades of Artemis is not for the casual reader - the author sticks to authentic Greek names and takes the reader around ancient Greece assuming it's a familiar place. But if you know a little ancient history the story is fascinating. Brasidas, the Spartan, growing up in a tough and ruthless city, his life is paralleled and contrasted by following the life of Thucydides, an rich Athenian. Both meet in peace time, then face in other in battle later. Spartan life is not romanticized (as in Gates of Fire). The main theme is how a talented Spartan soldier finally rises to a top command, after watching lesser men fail his city. The detail is rich, but it doesn't slow the book down at all. It's worth a look.
Shades of Artemis reminds me of Plutarch's Parallel Lives - The author follows the life of an outstanding Spartan commander (Brasidas) from childhood through his struggles to rise to an important command during the first phase of the Peloponnesian War in the late 5th century BC. His life is contrasted with the Athenian Thucydides, the actual historian of this war and a general of Athens who was out manuevered by Brasidas and eventually exiled because of it. The writing style is uncomplicated, but still is infused with many ancient Greek terms and proper names, adding to the feel of authenticty without employing a wordy or archaic "voice". This novel is considerably different than Martin's first book, In Kithairon's Shadow-instead of an event based tale, this is a character study of the Spartan citizen compared to the Athenian. It carries the reader through the Agoge of Sparta, the Kryptea, the important festivals of this odd city-state, and other significant rites of passage. While Brasidas grows, involved in all these trappings of his city, Thucydides grows also, but as a wealthy aristocrat in one of the ancient world's most cultured and open societies. Of course the drama of the Peloponnesian War drives the narrative, ending finally in the battle for Amphipolis in northern Greece where Brasidas exhibits his brillance as a field commander.