Although I have posted many times over the last two months, I only finished and reviewed two books in two months. I feel so unaccomplished! Admittedly, my life the last month of school and the month after graduation was crazy; now that I’ve started to create a daily schedule and general lifestyle living at home again, my free time to read should greatly increase. Yesterday my brother gave me his large incredibly comfortable overstuffed chair, so I even have the perfect place to read now.

Gates of Fire

I started to read Gates of Fire last month during my family’s vacation to Washington, DC. By the end of the trip I was half done with the book, but stopped reading after that for no real reason. For the last month I was 100 pages or so from the end, but could never bring myself to sit down and read. I cannot believe it took me this long, because this book was great!

This book is one view into the battle of Thermopylae, and the life of the Spartan warriors. After watching that particularly awful (or so I thought) “300” movie, I was a bit nervous when I picked up this book–in my mind, I kept hearing that main character guy who never wore a shirt yelling about “tonight we dine in hell.” Gates of Fire is completely different: well written, much more historically accurate, and intensely emotional. It also provided a look into the lives of Spartan women and the strength they brought to their community, which I really enjoyed. The wonderful battle scenes didn’t hurt either.

The book follows the life Xeo, a young boy who willingly becomes a squire to a Spartan warrior after his hometown was destroyed. His story is told as a death-bed tale, as he was the only survivor and captive of the battle. It begins with his own childhood, then moving to follow the lives of several of this Spartan friends and mentors. The entire book is written as a historical document to be presented to the Persian king, with the true narrator of the book being the king’s historian.

Although confusing at first because of the whole two narrators thing, this book was well worth the time and effort. Because the boy is a tiny bit of a history buff, the book also came along with lectures about  the Spartan battle style and weapons. Even with the lectures, Gates of Fire was a great read. I found the amount of detail and time put into the battle scenes to be perfectly balanced with the personal details of the characters lives, and the book did not depend upon blood and guts to engage readers. I am recommending this book to all my guy friends, and anyone who loves ancient history.