My rating: 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The second instalment Conn Iggulden’s ‘Athenian’ series was unsurprisingly just as brilliant as the first, ‘Gates of Athens’. As with all Iggulden’s work it is exceptionally well researched, enthralling and eloquently written. Where the first book dealt with the Battle of Marathon and Thermopylae this one begins with the infamous naval battle of Salamis. Athenians have fled the city which is now burning to the ground on the orders of the Persian king Xerxes. The women and children find sanctuary on the island of Salamis and the men take to the water to meet the Persians and defend their home. Strategy is paramount considering they are greatly outnumbered. Although it looks like an impossible feat, the clear-headed Themistocles comes up with a plan which may just help their plight. Following this spectacular naval battle, the Persian army return to conquer the Greeks at the battle of Plataea and what ensues is an intense and utterly thrilling battle. The Athenians are joined by the Spartans, whose ruthlessness in battle is all too well known by the Persians.
This all consuming, action packed novel takes you to another time and place, you feel like you are living history. You stand alongside the Athenians and their allies on the battlefield, the smell of sweat and blood in the air consumed with dread at the prospect of meeting the enemy in battle. This epic tale consumes you completely and is surely unbeatable in the realms of historical fiction.
This is so much more than an account of battles and bloodshed, here you get insightful political strategy, an understanding of cultural intricacies and an exquisite exploration of human emotion. A must read for all historical fiction lovers and anyone with an interest in ancient history.
I was gifted this beautiful proof edition by Penguin Michael Joseph in return for an honest review.