The book sounds good, based on customer reviews... but the "Editorial Review" says that the lead character was a refugee from Northern Greece, who was "drafted into the elite Spartan guard", and that one of his compatriots was "half Messenian". My understanding was that the Spartans were highly xenophobic. It doesn't read true to me that there were "adopted Spartans" fighting at Thermopylae. What's up with that?
Actually it would be better if you read the book... what it implies (not only for the spartans thought...) is that the "squires" and "light infantry" "(why the author call them "rangers "instead of skirmishers I will never know...) were sometimes "ilots" (slaves)... BUT IN THIS PARTICULAR BATTLE THEY SEEMINGLY FILLED THE HOLES IN THE RANKS ON THE SECOND AND THIRD DAY... Xenophobic is a too strong term!... I insist... better if you read the book!
The main character was never an actual Spartan warrior but instead a Helot. Helots were serfs in Spartan society and treated as inferiors to the Spartan citizen warriors: they had no political voice or legal rights in Spartan society. Spartans cared little where Helots came from as long as they performed the menial labors imposed on them. Many Helots were originally captives from military campaigns in addition to being Peloponesian natives. Although Thermopylae was a desperate exception, Helots were brought into battles only as squires to the Spartan warriors and were used as auxilliary javeliners and archers. Helots were not trained or expected to be an armored Spartan hoplite/infantryman in the phallanx which was the position reserved for the elite Spartan citizen-soldier.
to David KN. I don't know if this thread is still going on after so long, but I'm currently reading "The Isle of Stone" by Nicholas Nicastro. It is about ancient Sparta, and the first section, on how the boys were raised to be Spartan Warriors, is just amazing. Their entire society was so strange, so rigid, almost like Stalinist Russia, only they make Stalinist Russia seem warm and fuzzy! Good book so far however. (Yes, they really show how the Spartans treated the Helots (the original indigenous people--not just treating them like slaves, but actually like sub-humans or like animals.) And I agree w/ whoever said the Spartans were xenophobic. From everything I've read....contrast to the Athenians, at the same time period. (Read some of Mary Renault's books on ancient Athens...excellent.)