Review of Gates of Fire (by S. Pressfield)
by: Q. Aurelius Orcus
The first thing I noticed about this book was that it dealt with a historical event. It was a historical novel, situated in Ancient Greece during the Persian Wars. The second thing about it is that, apparently, it will be adapted for a movie.
The story goes as follows; Xeones is the only survivor of the battle of Thermopylae and is captured by the Persians where he is forced to tell them how the Spartans were able to hold off an entire army for so long. He begins by telling how he and his cousin fled their hometown, which was under attack by an Argive army. Along with an old, sick man, they embark to Sparta where Xeo hopes to join the army and take his revenge upon the Argives. Xeo is being watched over by Apollo, who also saved him from dying during the battle of Thermopylae. At one point, their roads split and they must say goodbye. Xeo goes to Sparta where he meets Rooster, a half Spartan-Messenian Helot, and Alexandros. Together they face the perils of the Spartan army training. They go to battle with the Spartan king Leonidas, who will take them to Thermopylae.
I must admit that this book is historically correct. At least, as far as I can tell it is correct. The descriptions of clothes, weapons, etc… are amazing. Pressfield describes it to a point where you can visualize it for yourself. He brings us a beautiful, rich story, not a dull one. Also, he doesn’t portray the Spartan State as a fascist one. Their methods of training may look like fascist methods and harsh, but it were those kind of training that produced the armies, throughout their history, that made them notorious and famous.
The characters and setting are amazingly realistic. It gave the whole story a kind of vibe that made you think that you are there, living the lives of the main characters. The fact that the Persian Wars were the background of this story made it even more realistic in my eyes. To me, this book is one of the better books I have read so far. Most books on history can be more quantity, but this book is pure quality like The Lord of the Rings or Starship Troopers, to name a few. If the movie is as good as the book, we will get a superb movie. But my fear is that Hollywood will make it a historical love-war story like they did with Pearl Harbor. That is not the only fear I have. I fear that they will not make it historically correct as the author of the book did, to cut some expenses. But one of my biggest fears is that they make this movie in the style of Hercules and Xena. I truly recommend the book by Steven Pressfield, but if the movie comes out, I would watch it with a lot of skepticism.