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Hoplite (Olympian, by Lee Ness

Hoplite (Olympian,

by Lee Ness

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The Young Alexander dreams to compete in the OIympic Games himself. Turn back the time to 440BC, and follow the then child on the first adventurous path. Lee Ness set the opening scene for a series of books. In Hoplite - Olympian: Book 1, Alexander is trapped aboard a troop ship, while following his father, Lysander, a strong hoplite. The battle of Samos is interwoven in the story. Lysander dies on the battleground, the young Alexander is initiated into the Greek army to be trained, bullied, neglected and abused. Fatherless and separated from his mother, the young boy is left to his own devices, the cruelty and grace of surrounding hoplites, each with a personal agenda, high stakes and not reluctant to show hate or revenge.
Next to the descriptions of fights and training exercises, the author throws in lively plots of narrow escapes, dangerous discoveries and a vivid example of a martial court Greek style with sudden twists and an unexpected outcome. It's totally different stuff than Lee's previous book D.E.M. - Deus Ex Machina, nevertheless engaging all the way to the epilogue. ( )
  hjvanderklis | Mar 10, 2016 |
Alexander The Great is a name in history that everyone knows but most people don’t know all the details of his life. Hoplite by Lee Ness looks at Alexander’s early years. This book starts off with Alexander trying to see his father before he goes off to war. An accident happens and he ends up on a ship headed off to the battlefield.

Alexander ends up being put to work as a servant to the Athenian army who is on their way to take over the benign state of Samos. The army finds this task harder to complete then they thought, tragedy strikes and Alexander is forced to become a soldier. Life changes quickly for Alexander as he learns the politics of war and how not everyone in his army is an ally.

Hoplite is a coming of age story. In the beginning Alexander is a normal kid that dreams of being an Olympian. You could say he is less than normal because he and his mother are outcasts in Athens with only his father being Athenian. Alexander wasn’t thinking of being a soldier but due to circumstances he has to become a warrior. It seems the world is against him but he proves his intelligence and adapts to the changing world around him.

This was a fascinating read not only is it suspenseful but it is also educational. I loved the scenes where Alexander learns what it takes to be a warrior and how to deal with other soldiers. Alexander’s teacher and my favorite character in this book is Theokritus. Theokritus is given the task of teaching Alexander how to be an athlete and a warrior. Alexander doesn’t think highly of him, his perception is that he doesn’t look very athletic and he is old, but he quickly learns that Theokritus is the most respected man in the army. At this point in the book it becomes like an instruction manual on how to live as a Hoplite and it comes from a man who doesn’t look like a hero. I loved that this guy who looked like he didn’t fit in was so important and that Alexander had to learn from him.

The descriptions of battle scenes were excellent from the armor they wear to the tactics used in battle. One great scene had A group of archers firing on the Athenians and the Athenians getting into a formation with their shields that would help them survive with the least amount of casualties. I can only imagine the amount of research that must have went into learning what Ancient Greek soldiers were like and how they lived their lives. Lee Ness really brought the Greek world to life.

This is an excellent work of historical fiction. Not only can you learn about history here but you could also learn about how to be a solider and a politician. Lee Ness is a teacher and you can tell that while reading this book. The book is entertaining as well with some great scenes like when Alexander has to race a much bigger man from Samos. Alexander doesn’t have much of a chance but if he looses two people from his army will die. In another scene he is given the task of negotiating with the enemy so his army can collect dead bodies from a battlefield. Hoplite is a great book that works on several levels as it brings history to life. ( )
  dwatson2 | Feb 11, 2016 |
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
This story starts off somewhat mysterious. We have a young boy, Alexander, who is sneaking along the docks. He is trying to locate his father. The reason we learn is that his father is going off to battle. He had been bullied and the way he handled it didn’t turn out right. His mother doesn’t really belong in Athens and as an outsider can own no land. With her son gone she is in danger from the people where she lives. Alexander spots his father. His desire is to speak to him and then go home. To avoid being seen he is grabbed and told to carry something aboard his father’s ship. He hides below deck where he falls asleep. When caught by a soldier he ran into on shore he is smacked around, until his father rescues him. Under his father’s care he is protected. He is stuck on board until they can get him back home. This means he will follow his father to the battle. When he sees his father killed things go from bad to worse. How will he get home? Was his father’s death his fault?

Alexander is a very brave young man who finds himself in circumstances he should never have been in. This book will keep you turning pages until you reach the end. It will also keep you waiting and wanting the next in this series. This is an awesome book. ( )
  skstiles612 | Nov 24, 2015 |
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