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Gates of Fire
By Steven Pressfield
For any of you who have seen the movie 300 with Gerard Butler…yeah…it probably didn’t really happen that way. It wasn’t a group of only three hundred men, with carbon copied abs, who held back the thousands of Persians poised to invade Greece over three days of constant battle. Steven Pressfield’s story is most likely a little closer to the truth; the Spartans had thousands of allies, squires, and retainers, each capable of thrusting a spear at an enemy in an enclosed area; and much to my wife’s protests, they definitely would have worn armor to protect their chests and abdomens.
Gates of Fire isn’t a new release, but it really isn’t that old either; the original release was 1998. I enjoyed the point of view in this story. Pressfield told the story of a young helot, a man born outside of Sparta, who gave himself over as a serf to the Spartans. I always find this “common man” perspective interesting; it allows the reader to get a chance to see both sides of the story (the inflated story told by the winner with some of what really happened from someone without an agenda).
I enjoyed the time that Pressfield gave me with Xeones. The story fit in nicely with some others that I have read and listened to over the years. Filling in gaps that others may have skimmed over. He really focused on the Battle of Thermopylae, and the people who were there. Pressfield created some great characters, filled with humanity. I felt like I was in the phalanx with these brave men.
I went with the Audible version of Gates of Fire and enjoyed the narration, mostly. I just don’t think that George Guidall was the best choice for the roles. His voice was commanding and would be great for many books; it’s just that this tale is told by a young man; not even twenty years old, and to be honest, George Guidall sounds like a man who has seen and done it all. I just think that it would have been better to get a younger voice for Gates of Fire.