Tag Archives: Gates of Athens

Book Review – The Gates of Athens

A Historical Fiction novel by Conn Iggulden

Do you ever wish that Gaunt’s Ghosts had more Spears and Shields instead of Lasguns or that Sharpe had fewer Frenchmen to fight but more Persians…? Well good news your wait is over and Woehammer’s Elite group of Book Reviewers have the perfect solution to your needs.

The Gates of Athens is the first in a new series of books written by Conn Iggulden. If you’ve not seen his name before he has written a lot of historical fiction in eras as diverse as Rome, Genghis Khan and the War of the Roses. Unlike Gaunts Ghosts and Sharpe he tends to write complete series so characters don’t lice forever, but he is very good at capturing the themes of the historical era in which he is writing.

The Gates of Athens is an interesting story and one that wargamers will likely know something about, and Iggulden starts at Marathon where the army of Darius (the Persian King) is forced from Greece. At this victory we are introduced to five of the main characters used in the book… but don’t worry about keeping up, this is mostly the story about Xanthippus, a Strategos (Division leader) of Athens.

After victory at Marathon and Pheidippides has unfortunately died (again), the reader is introduced to the politics and intrigue of the Agora or Athens. Its not in too much detail though so no preknowledge is require or expected and the book is still mass market paperback so not intended for those who only want to read about the politics of the day! There is intrigue, deals and betrayal! Perfect!

But 10 years after Marathon the Persians are back under the new King – Xerxes – and heading for Athens who will need all her sons to save her!

It’s a smashing (and bashing) tour de force with Xanthippus in particular being a great character and hero for the story. Despite knowing the story and the sequence of events its written to still bring the reader along for the ride and – if you don’t know the story- there’s definitely enough explanation to stop you becoming confused. Despite the historical requirements and limitations, Iggulden also manages to keep the number of characters to a good level despite all the people involved.

So if you’re in a gap in Gaunts Ghosts or fancy a bit of a change from Orks and Psykers then give this a go. You won’t be disappointed!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

— Declan

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