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The Road to Sardis by Stephanie Plowman
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The Road to Sardis

by Stephanie Plowman

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A young man, Lycius of Athens, has come to Sardis to muster as one of Xenophon's Ten Thousand. Before he will begin his journey to Persia with his fellow mercenaries, he sits by a campfire and ruminates on the question asked by the ghosts of dead friends that he can never forget--

" 'Why have you come to Sardis, Lycius?'
Night after night this happens and I cannot answer them. All I can be sure of is when my journey here began--a night in early spring thirty years ago, when Thebes set her army tramping seven miles through the mud in a surprise attack on Plataea, so setting me, with many others, on the first stage of the long road which was to bring me here to Sardis."

Thus begin the thoughts of Lycius and his narration, from the start of the Peloponnesian War when he is a six-year old, through the progress of the war, his fighting at Syracuse and at Goat Rivers, both devastating defeats for Athens. His actions after the war and advice of friends and family influence his final decision.

On the whole, I was gripped by this book from the first page of the prologue; but I found it helps to know a little about this period in history. When it was written 50 years ago, I would guess people had more of a grounding in classical history than they do today. I found it more enjoyable on rereading [I read it twice in order to review it.] Some of the famous historical figures of that period were prominent--Alcibiades, his duplicitous cousin; Euripides, whose plays were often suitably quoted at certain points in the narrative; and Thucydides, the general/historian, among others. In history, Lycius himself was a cavalry officer in Xenophon's army, mentioned in Book 4 of Xenophon's Anabasis 1-4. I don't consider this novel difficult reading although somewhat dated. I do regret any negative over-the-top stereotypes the author used: mostly the Spartan characters. The only one half-way decent was the old king, Archidamos.

Recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Nov 15, 2015 |
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ISBN 1423117840 is for The Search for Cyra by Catherine Hapka
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