Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gates of Fire

Gates of Fire
Written by Steven Pressfield
Historical Fiction

Steven Pressfield was known to me for his non-fiction book, "Do The Work". It's a sequl of sorts to his other non-fiction book, "The War of Art." The former was good if a bit short, the later I've not read.

The story behind Gates of Fire is well known to most modern audiences. Frank Miller put forth a frentic energized version in his graphic novel "300" which was later turned into a movie.

Note, this was not the first movie to capture the tale of the 300. The 300 Spartans was out well before Frank took his interpetation.

Steven Pressfield's book Gates of Fire isn't a frenzied tale of blood soaked madness in rapid fire. It's an unwinding tale told by a survivor of the original battle at the  Gates, one who is captured by the Persians and feels compeled by Apollo to tell his tale. It winds in and out of different time periods providing the reader with a great scope of the region than 300 dudes going to a blood soaked pass to fight.

It's well told and flows smoothly. The narroator brings us around various cities and regiions while providing his own history which is filled with tragedy of the times. I'd trust Steve Pressfield's descriptions of the Spartans having actual armor and a variety of methodologies over Frank Miller's warrior nudists.

Another benefit of a tale told longer, is there are more characters with their own stories prior to getting to the Gates. This allows the reader to see the daily lives of both those who life and breath the Spartan way, and those like the narrator who while a Freeman, are not of the caste but serve under it willingly as this allows them to serve under the best.

One of the nifty things that Steven Pressfield's book brings to the table, are nicknames. For example, we get "Suicide", a warrior who fights alongside the Spartans and rushes into battle eager to die and yet never does. We get "Rooster", a short onery fellow who hates the Spartan's despite his father being one as he identifies with his mother's people. Yet it is Rooster who provides opportunities to the Spartan's that they would not have had without him.

Gates of Fire is tale of the military at it's core. The strengths necessary to fight off "this factory of fear" as some of the Spartans refer to their flesh. To love their brothers enough, to love their cities enough, to love their civilization enough, to fight not to win necessarily, but to provide courage and inspiration to those that will come after them.