31 мая 2009 | Автор: Admin | Рубрика: English литература » Художественная литература на английском языке | Комментариев: 0
Steven Pressfield historical novels: Gates of Fire, The Virtues of War, Last of the Amazons
Publisher: Doubleday | English | ISBN: multiple | zipped PDFs (OCR) | 398 + 424 + 434 pages | 2.6 + 5.7 + 2.0 MB
Gates of Fire:
"Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie." Thus reads an ancient stone at Thermopylae in northern Greece, the site of one of the world's greatest battles for freedom. Here, in 480 B.C., on a narrow mountain pass above the crystalline Aegean, 300 Spartan knights and their allies faced the massive forces of Xerxes, King of Persia. From the start, there was no question but that the Spartans would perish. In Gates of Fire, however, Steven Pressfield makes their courageous defense—and eventual extinction—unbearably suspenseful.
In the tradition of Mary Renault, this historical novel unfolds in flashback. Xeo, the sole Spartan survivor of Thermopylae, has been captured by the Persians, and Xerxes himself presses his young captive to reveal how his tiny cohort kept more than 100,000 Persians at bay for a week. Xeo, however, begins at the beginning, when his childhood home in northern Greece was overrun and he escaped to Sparta. There he is drafted into the elite Spartan guard and rigorously schooled in the art of war--an education brutal enough to destroy half the students, but (oddly enough) not without humor: "The more miserable the conditions, the more convulsing the jokes became, or at least that's how it seems," Xeo recalls. His companions in arms are Alexandros, a gentle boy who turns out to be the most courageous of all, and Rooster, an angry, half-Messenian youth.
The Virtues of War:
"I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life." Esteemed historical novelist Pressfield crawls inside the brave heart of Alexander the Great in this chronicle of the king's bloody and extraordinary accomplishments and boundless ambition. Presented as Alexander's confessions (and lessons) to his brother-in-law, Itanes, as the Macedonian commander and his increasingly reluctant armies try to figure out how to cross "this river of India" to engage in yet another battle, the novel tells of Alexander's father's last victory (the defeat of the Greeks at Chaeronea) before his assassination; of how, over his father's corpse, Alexander cements his plans for future campaigns; of his struggle with his "daimon," which would call him to glory; of his burning of Thebes; of his march east and his slaughter throughout Asia; of his murder of his friend Cleitus ("I felt his spine shear"). Alexander's voice swoops from high-minded rhetoric to earthy vernacular as he regales Itanes with bloody battle scenes and stories of horror and triumph. For devotees of Alexandrite military history—and there are many—this is a sympathetic if slightly overlong portrait of a man who knew no doubt: "Fame imperishable and glory that will never die: that is what we march for!"
Last of the Amazons:
With an epic scope and keen sense of detail, Steven Pressfield has created an entertaining and vital reimagining of the Amazon legend with his historical novel, Last of the Amazons. Combining myth with history, Pressfield offers a conjectural account of the legendary female warrior tribe as it may have existed in the years leading up to its extinction. Following the Athenian-Amazon war in the fifth century B.C., Amazon warrior Selene is taken captive and placed as an unlikely governess to the two daughters of a high-ranking Greek. The three form a lasting bond, and when Selene eventually escapes to return to Amazonia, eldest daughter Europa follows her. The Athenians, including King Theseus, assemble a group to find them, eventually traveling to Amazonia. Here, those involved relate the story of the Amazon war to the men, and the book's action really begins. Narrators tell of Theseus's earlier voyage to Amazonia, where his weakened crew was given shelter by the Amazons; the love affair between Theseus and Amazon queen Antiope; and the terrible consequences of the queen's defection and the Amazonian invasion of Athens that it inspired.
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