Gates of Fire

300 was a well told tale of the battle of Thermopylae. A good comic book: striking visuals, a broad and clear story-line, buckets of attitude, fast pacing. It is being turned into a film – which should be interesting to watch.

But I just finished Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, and it kicks ass. Like the historical Roma-sub-Rosa novels of Steven Saylor it manages to fill in the daily details of life in the ancient world (but not as well as Roma-sub-Rosa does it). Also it tells the story in flashback, which is a nice way to allow the story skip around a bit, and to let it cover more of life in Sparta, not just the battle itself. The descriptions of training, of battle, of tactics are what make the book really fascinating. The descriptions of the battle itself makes the D-Day scenes in Private Ryan seem tame in comparison.

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