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The Headlong God of War:: A Tale of Ancient…

The Headlong God of War:: A Tale of Ancient Greece and the Battle of…

by Jon Edward Martin

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Although written several years after the author's debut novel In Kithairon's Shadow: A Novel of Ancient Greece and the Persian War, I consider this one more or less a prequel, concerning an earlier facet of the Greco-Persian War of ancient times along with the run-up to war. Very enjoyable and hard to put down, this was a fast-moving novel leading up to and including the decisive Battle of Marathon, the run to Athens by Eukles to announce victory over the Persians. Historians today differ as to the exact identity of the messenger. Then follows the aftermath, with Athenians proudly showing the Marathon Plain to Spartans, who arrive after the battle is over. The novel ends, as the previous novel began: with the announcement of the outcome of Thermopylae. Here one character feels that the Persians are not finished with mainland Hellas. Although they have sailed away for now, they will be back.

As in the author's previous novel on Plataea, he moves in sections from different group to different group--both Greek and Persian, giving us a sense of their feelings and points of view of the action. They live and breathe: from Miltiades, the unabashed hero, though historically he was of dubious character; his sons; other Athenians, such as the famous Aeschylus, Aristides, and Themistocles; Arimnestos of Plataea and his family. Arimnestos led the Plataean contingent. We follow several Persian officers, and of course, Darios, the Great King. Battle scenes were as good as I've read elsewhere.

The novel brought the whole era to life for me. One small quibble; there were some homophonic errors, and the most annoying: the author's use of "lie" as the past tense of the verb "to lie [down]; it should have been "lay". This occurred more than five times in the book. On the whole, I highly recommend the book. I felt it concentrated mainly on the Marathon story along with events before and after that touched on it. ( )
  janerawoof | Mar 7, 2015 |
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