2 out of 4 stars
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The Fox is a historical fiction book by one M. N. J. Butler. It consists of 4 books and 27 chapters. It is relatively long. When I decided to review it, I thought it was set recently, at least in the 20th century, but it is actually about a couple of centuries ago.
Leotychides is royal blood. He is also referred to as Cockerel or General Pentatarchos by his fellow Spartans in the Spartiate regiment. As you might have guessed, there’re a lot of battles, treaties and alliances involved. Even so, The Fox is different. Leo’, though his father - King Agis - passes away, doesn’t have it easy like ordinary monarchies. He is disciplined and obedient, and certainly loyal, but that is just not enough. To add salt to injury, he is a bastard. Regardless, he starts training at a tender age. How will he maneuver?
The book is slow-paced. The plot is a bit complicated. I feel there’s a lot of information that may not be relevant to most readers. Information about Sparta, Athens, Thebes, battle jargon and others. Considering it’s a relatively big book, a reader is likely to lose interest midway. I would recommend maps to facilitate better understanding of the places and battles. There are too many characters too. So many characters pop up and don’t develop. Some don’t even stick around for 2 pages. Teres, for example, appears in the middle of the final chapter and doesn’t even make it to its end. I also wouldn’t relate to most conversations.
Still, I enjoyed conversations between Leotychides and Doreius. The former looked up to the latter – his chief ephor. The conversations were real and depicted this relationship. The language used was also realistic based on the setting. The story seemed real as per those times. I also enjoyed the poem of Alkman’s. My favourite quote was: “There is only one certainty, and that is there is none.”
I took away one star as The Fox was dull. I found myself rereading a couple of times. The women characters are weakened. Perhaps it has something to do with those times, but still it’s a minus for me. Apparently, almost all Sparta women then were ‘unlettered’. I took away another one because of the errors. I found more than twenty. These are mostly punctuation errors. Some were unnecessary capitalization. An example is a line on page 195 – “I have only two sons, - in regards to punctuation. The book is not professionally edited. Therefore, my final verdict is 2 out of 4 stars.
The only reason I didn’t deduct another star is because there is a story there. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys history – especially Greek history. The story is almost true to life. The book would probably not appeal to most youngsters. Also, those who don’t prefer relatively long books might want to skip this one.
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