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Nemesis: A Novel of the Spartan Gylippos and…

Nemesis: A Novel of the Spartan Gylippos and the Battle of Syracuse

by Jon Edward Martin

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Recently added byjanerawoof, Chiliarch



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I was thrilled to read such an enthralling novel on a little-known [or written about] period in ancient Greek history: the Athenian besieging of Syracuse on Sicily in 415-413 B.C. Through the unorthodox tactics and strategy of the Spartan, Gylippos, the siege was broken and the Syracusans emerged victorious. The author seemed to adhere very closely to his Thucydides for the meat of the story, with imagination filling in the gaps. When I researched a bit, I was surprised at how many of the characters really lived.

Several separate stories converge in Syracuse: Gylippos's own assignment to lead the Syracusans to victory; Endymion the Argive--from Argos, a common soldier fighting for the Athenians; Nicias, the ailing diplomatic and cautious Athenian general; and Syracusans, especially the cavalry commander Hermokrates and his family.

I enjoyed reading the tactics and strategies of Gylippos, unorthodox as they were. I found the night battle in which "friendly fire" [or whatever it would have been called in those days] exciting, as well as the blockade of the harbor and sea battle. There was unobtrusive love interest which relieved the military scenes and did not become annoying. I liked how the author handled the episode with the embezzled silver; this fit in more with the heroic personality Gylippos presented here, rather than with that of the historical Gylippos.

However, the layout was disconcerting: double spacing with some sentences not continued through to the end of the line but dropped down to next. The broken sentences occurred only in the first few chapters. I feel double spacing is a good idea for a draft but not for the final copy. The story seemed rushed towards the end. I did not like the way it ended, but that probably was one expression of Gylippos's personality. I do wish the author had given more description of the physical appearance of the characters. Some times I felt as though the author had left out some connecting detail on paper although he may have thought it in his mind, e.g., the death of Endymion's superior officer. I had to read between the lines to figure that out. The glossary was poor, and the novel lacked other supplementary material, such as Author's Note. There was a map at the head of Chapter 14, p. 224 in my copy, which mentioned most of the place names in the novel. I wish I could have rated it higher. Recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Feb 17, 2015 |
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