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Spartan: A Novel 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743475426
ISBN-10: 0743475429
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Manfredi, author of a trilogy about the life of Alexander the Great (Alexander), here tells an epic tale of Sparta and its rivalry with other Greek city-states in the face of repeated Persian invasions in the fifth century B.C. Two Spartan brothers, sons of a famous Spartan warrior, are separated as babies. One boy, Brithos, is healthy and strong, destined to become a soldier like his father. The other baby boy, Kleidemos, has a crippled foot and is left on a mountainside to die, in accordance with Spartan law. However, Kleidemos is found by an old man, a Helot (serf), and is raised as a Helot shepherd. As years pass, both boys grow into men, neither knowing of the other. Brithos becomes a Spartan warrior, and Kleidemos the shepherd (renamed Talos by his Helot family) learns a powerful and mysterious secret from his Helot grandfather. The paths of the two brothers cross in several unexpected ways as wars with Persia and conflicts and intrigues between Sparta and Athens inflame all of Greece. As master and slave, the two brothers fight alongside King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae, and they develop a bond neither can explain or understand. Brithos's fate is tied to Kleidemos, but the cripple's future is determined by the disturbing secret revealed by his grandfather. When Kleidemos finally learns that he is both a Spartan and a Helot, he is tormented by his divided loyalties. Manfredi is a masterful storyteller, carefully weaving in political and military history, realistically describing the brutality of hoplite warfare and vividly depicting the treachery and betrayal of kings.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Capitalizing on the success of his hugely popular Alexander trilogy, Italian archaeologist and novelist Manfredi has crafted another compelling saga set in ancient Greece. Born with a crippled foot, a baby is reluctantly abandoned by his aristocratic parents in accordance with Spartan law. Rescued by a Helot shepherd, young Talos grows to manhood, unaware of his noble roots. When destiny intervenes and Talos is brought face to face with his brother Brithos, a brutal Spartan warrior, the two engage in a puzzling contest of strength and wills. Eventually discovering the truth of his birth, Talos is torn between the Spartan blood coursing through his veins and the Helot pride instilled in him by his adoptive father. Plenty of action, passion, and drama underscore this authentically detailed historical adventure. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; 1 edition (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743475429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743475426
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,690,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those who've read and enjoyed Pressfield's GATES OF FIRE, it may seem hopless that anyone will ever write another tale of the Spartans in as moving and powerful a fashion. But this one nearly attains that goal. Here is a novel of two brothers, separated as babes, the elder a perfect Spartan paragon, the younger deformed at birth and abandoned by his parents to die of exposure in the wild. Rescued by a shepherd of the Helots, that people who were enslaved by the Spartan citizenry, the crippled child is raised and strengthened by his adopted people and taught to become their long dreamed of champion. But the Spartan blood of Talos the Cripple calls to him and draws him inexorably back to his Spartan roots even while the Spartans alternately torment and tolerate him, recognizing him as one of their own. Drawn into the great Battle of Thermopylae, the crucial plot-point of GATES OF FIRE, Manfredi's SPARTAN follows Talos in his struggles against the brutal inhumanities of Sparta and his own return to their ranks . . . and the conspiracies that characterized the ancient Hellenic world of the Greek city-states. The depth and poetry of Talos' personal experiences and the war in his soul carry this tale, though, perhaps, some of the other characterizatations grow pale by comparison. His Helot and Spartan mothers seem ghostly shades, even in life, while his beloved Antinea has but a bit part. The other Spartans are not much stronger and the plot feels a trifle contrived as we follow Talos from slavery to heroism and then to the point where he must choose a path between the two. The tale was compelling and kept me going throughout, but the ending felt just a bit too melodramatic, with one too many loose ends.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let's cut to the chase: This novel is at least as good as Pressfield's "Gates of Fire" (an excellent book), but in two areas I feel it surpasses it. The first is that it is a faster moving story. The second is that although Manfredi, like Pressfield, clearly admires the spartans, he doesn't sanitize them quite as much. Both novels are written from the perspective of a slave, but Manfredi's Talos has feelings much more in line with what a slave would feel, I think. Both involve Thermopylae, but where that is the central theme of "Gates of Fire", here it is one occurance among many halfway through the story. Elsewhere in the reviews for this book, I found one reader who felt a little lost with a few of the characters. Manfredi does an excellent job of bringing to life historical figures such as exiled King Demaratus, but I admit that it may help to have a general understanding of the Persian war. Interestingly, the prose flows particularly well for a translation. If you like reading about ancient heroics, I highly recommend this novel.
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Format: Hardcover
VMM is one of the greatest writer ever, he has such an in depth knowledge of the hellenistic, roman and greek period. His background does not only supports his writing, but he is also an extremely capable stroy teller. I had read all his books, the alexander trilogy, the lost legion and spartan and I always had difficulties in stop reading them and always end up rereading them all over again.
in Spartan, VMM vividly described the spartan way of life and all the historical happenings that surrounded the spartan legacy, from the suppresion of the helots, the persian invasion, the famous death of King Leonidas and his 300 spartans, the earthquake that prompted the helots to revolt and the subsequent battles.
VMM has a 'fluid' way in writing his works, hence he is not trapped in following the familiar pattern all over again which tends to happen to other authors, thus VMM managed to avaoid the boredom of a repeated story line.
And an merit should also be rewarded to the translator, without whom the books will be non accesibe to the english readers. The translators had indeed managed to capture the very essence and beauty of VMM's works. 2 thumbs up for the translators.
I recommend all of VMM books, he is truly a marvelous historian and story teller. Simply impossible to stop reading.
I am eagerly waiting for VMM's next book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very nicely told although at times a little boring. I think Manfredi failed to convey to readers the true Spartan spirit. The end is also unbelievable by trying to emulate some Merlin's act of sorcery.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a visual feast, a remarkable told story, and amazing writing! I love the way Manfredi writes. I WANTED to take my time with it and savor every word. I cannot sing its praises enough. What a gifted writer! He's a writer that writers love to read! This author was recommended to me by a passing man, and out of respect for the recommendation, I ordered this book on a whim. What a treat!
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Format: Paperback
SPARTAN is a unique book in that it is the fictional story of a fellow who has one foot in the camp of the Lacedamons (Spartans) and one foot in the camp of the Helots (the Messenian slave race of the Spartans). Born with a deformed foot, the protaganist is a fellow named Talos who is rejected by Spartan society. In accordance with their customs, he is exposed. That is to say, left in the woods to die. Of course, as is the case in Greek mythology, he is picked up by a Helot and given a chance to live an alternate life.

The bulk of the storyline takes us through the Persian wars, from the battle of Marathon through the climactic battle of Platea. It then continues on with the campaigns of the Spartan king Pausanius in Asia minor. Ultimately, we relive the earthquake which nearly brought Sparta to its knees, and spurred on a revolt of the Helots.

There are a great many historical tidbits that the author creatively entwines Talos in. Of course, in doing so, Manfredi also takes some liberties and does a little bit of rewriting of history. Many who are familiar with this epoch of history will be a little disappointed with the denouement of the book as it offers a happy ending where history says there wasn't one.

Nonetheless, this is a fine read & is worthy to be on the bookshelf of people who are fascinated by the ancient Spartans (like me!). This book will likely be compared to
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae. Like GOF, it tells the story of an unconventional Spartan Helot. The present book is not as intense as GOF, and paints with a wider brush than does Pressfield's masterpiece. I would recommend both books to those who are enthused about the Lacedamon tradition.
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