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300 Hardcover – December 28, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 293 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An emperor amasses an army of hundreds of thousands, drawn from two continents, to invade a third continent and conquer a tiny, divided nation. Only a few hundred warriors stand against them. Yet the tiny nation is saved. It sounds like the plot of a preposterous fantasy novel. It is historical fact. In 481-480 B.C., King Xerxes of Persia raised forces in Asia and Africa and invaded Greece with an army so huge that it "drank rivers dry." Then they entered the mountain pass of Thermopylae and encountered 300 determined soldiers from Sparta....

Writer-artist Frank Miller and colorist Lynn Varley retell the battle of Thermopylae in the exciting and moving graphic novel 300. They focus on King Leonidas, the young foot soldier Stelios, and the storyteller Dilios to highlight the Spartans' awe-inspiring toughness and valor. Miller and Varley's art is terrific, as always; the combat scenes are especially powerful. And Miller's writing is his best in years. Read it.

Do not, however, read 300 expecting a strictly accurate history. The Phocians did not "scatter," as Miller describes. His Spartans are mildly homophobic, which is goofy in such a gay society. Miller doesn't say how many Greeks remained for the climactic battle--you'd think 300 Spartans and maybe a dozen others, when there were between 700 and 1,100 Greeks. Herodotus's Histories does not identify the traitor Ephialtes as ugly and hunchbacked, or even as Spartan. 300 establishes a believable connection between Ephialtes's affliction and behavior, but his monstrous appearance, King Xerxes's effeminacy, and the Persians' inexplicable pierced-GenX-African looks make for an eyebrow-raising choice of villain imagery. Nonetheless, 300 is a brilliant dramatization.

For the full story of the failed invasion, read Herodotus's Histories or, for a concise, graphic-novel retelling, Larry Gonick's great Cartoon History of the Universe: Volumes 1-7, From the Big Bang to Alexander the Great. For a lighthearted look at post-invasion Athens and a very young Alexander the Great, check out William Messner-Loebs and Sam Kieth's witty and gorgeous graphic novels, Epicurus the Sage Vol. I and Vol. II. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

The Battle of Thermopylae ranks as one of the ancient world's most important events, where Spartan King Leonidas and his 300-man bodyguard met the massive army of Emperor Xerxes of Persia, who intended to add Greece to his empire. To no one's surprise, the Spartans were destroyed. While the battle bought the Greeks enough time to defeat the mighty Persians, it was more important for the metaphor it created: occasionally one has to lose to win. This is clearly the inspiration behind Miller's attempt to place this epic tale in the context of a graphic novel. A renowned comics artist and writer known for hard-boiled stories of almost operatic intensity and stylishly overwrought violence, Miller (Sin City) injects his own brand of graphic sensationalism into this ancient tale of national survival. Miller clearly isn't as interested in being a historian as he is in telling a story, but his portrayal of the ancient world is compelling. His drawings of the bearded Leonidas are pensive and starkly imperial. The Persian King Xerxes is represented as majestically African, his body covered in a gaudy and bejeweled network of meticulously rendered chains and bracelets. Form and content are ideally wedded: Miller's writing is stark, his drawings moody and dramatic, and intensified by Varley's grimly appropriate palette of earth and blood. The reader can see and feel the harshness of both the Grecian landscape and Sparta's battle-worshipping culture, as Miller presents the complex historical moment facing the 300. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Books; Gph edition (December 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569714029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569714027
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.5 x 13 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. J. Thomas on March 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately, most of the negative reviews for Frank Miller's "300" seem to stem from an outrage to the historical inaccuracy within the book. While certain aspects such as specific quotes, names and the basic story arc are in fact true; many details of the historical account have been changed to allow the author the ability to tell this `legend' in a gritty modern pulp manner. The end result is a highly stylized, gripping, fun, and compelling version of this tale - redesigned and told through the mind's eye of one of today's undeniable leaders in the field of graphic story telling. If you want to learn more about the actual event, read a history book! What Miller has done here is simply to have retold the incredible story of King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan soldiers starring down certain death to defend their home against absolutely impossible odds in a manner that people of our current time and culture can easily understand and become enveloped in. Historical accuracy is not the objective; good story telling is. The artwork is stark and bare and perfectly fits this legendary tale where hope of survival was bleak. It is a quick read, but highly enjoyable... providing that you aren't a pseudo-historian liable of being thrown into a fit because Miller choose to modernize the mythos of ancient Sparta for the benefit of reaching his contemporary audience. Legends evolve as they are passed down through the years so that their lessons may stay relevant. I both applaud Frank Miller's creative adaptation and highly recommend this book to all who can handle a gritty, blood and guts retelling of perhaps the greatest battle man has ever fought.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of the battle at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae was always a favorite of mine growing up. King Leonidas and his personal guard of 300 Spartans personified courage and individual strength, as they held off the more than 100,000 strong Persian army, lead by Xerxes the Great King. Think about those numbers. 300 against more than 100,000.
For three days, the Spartans stood against Xerxes until a betrayal lead to their downfall. This is manly, hot-blooded stuff here. I cannot think of any other artist who could do it justice.
Frank Miller was made for manly, hot-blooded stuff. His art style, used to perfection in "300," is all about strength and weight. The Spartans are carved from the rocky terrain of Greece. Heavy outlines and squared corners add to the effect. The costume designs are symbolic rather than historic, and each heavy cape and bronze sword is used to full effect. Lynn Varley's colors are at the top of her game.
This is a work of art, but it isn't pretty.
Story wise, Miller has done a clever job of adapting this historical event into a reasonably short comic. Along with the necessary bravado and familiar Spartan quotations ("Return with your shields, or on them!"), he has breathed life and an certain sensitivity into Leonidas and Xerxes. This mix of story and art is all that is good about comics.
This edition, in particular, showcases Miller's art and story. The oversized hardcover with high print quality puts the pages in your face. Varley's colors are vibrant. A very worthy purchase.
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Format: Hardcover
Although not totally accurate, Frank Miller does an excellent job of telling the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, a momentous battle made all the more legendary by the fact that as few as 300 Spartan warriors (some estimates range as high as 1,000)managed to hold off an army that numbered in the hundreds of thousands for three days.
Xerxes, the ruler of Persia, had amassed an army that may have numbered as high as a million, which was moving across the Middle East and into Greece with the intent of conquering the known world. Many of the Greek city-states were prepared to simply submit. But two things occurred after the 300 Spartans held Xerxes's army off for three days. One, it allowed time for Greek naval forces to move into position to challenge Xerxes. Two, as word spread of the battle, it inspired other Greeks to choose to battle Xerxes. Xerxes's forces also were probably somewhat demoralized by the battle as Xerxes probably lost thousands of men as he sent wave after wave of soldiers at the Spartans.
The Spartans eventually fell, but their sacrifice resulted in victory and Xerxes and his army were eventually turned back.
Miller takes a few literary licenses with the story, to good effect, and presents a fairly accurate and engrossing retelling of the battle. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When you've conquered the comics medium with gritty, film noirish tales as Frank Miller has done time and time again, what project could you undertake which would simultaneously shock and thrill your audience?
How about a Classics Illustrated-style retelling of a little-known episode in ancient history?
In retrospect, using the comic form to tell the story of Leonidas and his 300 Spartan's stand against Xerxes and his Persian hordes is an absolutely brilliant idea, but for the life of me I do not know how Miller managed to pitch this to the corporate suits and get them to put it out in an oversized hardcover edition to boot. Anyone want a coffee table book filled with blood and gore? Put your hand down, Hannibal Lecter.
"300" is an absolutely stunning recounting of the heroism of the ancient Spartans as they stood and fell before the might of the largest armed force on the planet. Fans of Xenophon and Thucydides will instantly recognize the ancient Greece depicted herein; the furious discipline of the bristling phalanx, the oppressive heat of the campaign, the rhythmic thud of the marching battalions. Leonidas gleams like the hero-kings of old always do in our imagination, noble and cruel. This simple tale of how one man refused to allow the glory of Greece to fade before a barbarous horde is punctuated by breathtaking battle scenes, glorious heroism, and base treachery. This is truly the power of the comic book medium, a power well-remembered by those of us who dropped the melodrama and tissue paper plots of the X-clones long ago.
Bravo, Mr. Miller, and thanks for recalling us to a nobler, bolder, though hardly more savage age. Get this book now, and your coffee table be damned.
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