3 out of 4 stars
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Would you love to go back in time to the period of great and famous kings whose exploits fill the pages of history? The Fox brings the past alive with tales from the 30th century in an engaging way. We also get to peek into the personal lives of Spartan royalties. M. N. J Butler has left no stones unturned in writing this book.
Leotychides is the heir to the throne of his father, King Agis. However, there is much subdued talk about his legitimacy as the heir. Is he really a bastard? But it is said that there are no bastards in Sparta, as all the fathers in Sparta are fathers to all her sons. At a very tender age, Leotychides goes from the comfort of the palace to the incredibly hard life of the flock. Surprisingly, though, he comes out stronger and wiser. He also acquired loyal, lifelong friends. In time, ailing king Agis dies unexpectedly. Eleven days after, Leotychides uncle, Agisilaos, usurps the throne and claims the kingdom. So begins Leotychides long exile. The major portion of the later chapters focuses on Leotychides activities while in exile and his numerous battles.
This lengthy book makes for a very interesting read. It was engaging to get on a more personal level with the likes of king Alexandria. The personality of the protagonist is also quite exemplary. I admired his courage, resilience and intelligence. The author has obviously done intensive historical research on Spartan cultures and personalities. There are moral lessons to be learned as well. The story of the boy who hid the stolen fox in his cloak till he died clearly imprints an important lesson on my mind. The writing of this very lengthy book is surprisingly error free with good construction of sentences.
However, the text in my electronic copy was written in very tiny letters which impeded the flow of reading. The narrative also proved confusing at times. It was difficult to differentiate between speakers due to the overuse of apostrophes. It seems to me that the plot was a bit narrow as well, roving between the palace, battle, and exile.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It has a lot to offer in terms of history. However, the narrative was sometimes confusing and the plot was narrow. I believe a little more humor would have made the story more interesting. History lovers would find this book indispensable, but those who prefer shorter reads might find this book too tasking.
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