Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of The Battle of Thermopylae
By: Steven Pressfield
My Rating: Three out of Five Stars
Best for: Adults
Gates of Fire is ancient history…literally.
This is a dramatized history of the events leading up to, during, and immediately following the famed Battle of Thermopylae. Led by King Leonidas and his band of 300 Spartan warriors, a vastly outnumbered army of allied Greeks held the narrow pass there for 3 days against the endless forces of the attacking Persian army in 480 BC. They were all killed, though it cost the lives of many tens of thousands of Persian slave-soldiers to break through.
The sacrifice of that small band paved the way for an ultimate victory for Greece as they successfully defended their homeland against the greatest military might of that time. The Greeks rebuilt their country, became a center of trade, invented new forms of government, and produced some of history greatest thinkers whose influence is felt today in our modern society.
Talk about changing the world.
The story is incredible, but the book left me frustrated. The prose is thick and tough to follow…my brain felt tired after reading it. The chronology bounces around without warning. I expected the violence (there was a lot), but I didn’t expect the volume of offensive language. This was a hard book to read–and I don’t mean the content. I’m a smart guy, but even I had to spend a lot of brain power to comprehend and digest this complex book.
Gates of Fire is an incredible true story, and I’m glad I read the book because of that. If you chose to read it, expect dialed-up violence, language, and too much of the kind of (im)mature things you might expect when there are stereotypical manly-men spending a lot of time together.