4 out of 4 stars
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The Fox by M. N. J. Butler.
M. N. J. Butler's historical fiction is an intriguing narrative that focuses on Leotychides, an illegitimate heir to the Spartan throne. The story recounts his life as a child up to his mature years and the warfare that he had fought, back in 4th century BC. The Fox engulfs its readers in a tale of a unique Greek city-state, Sparta, characterized by impeccable socio-political systems and military eminence. The narrative is authored as an autobiography and is unfolded from the perspective of Leotychides.
Leotychides is the son of king Agis II of Sparta, from the Eurypontid's dynasty. His mother Timaia is an influential woman of royal origin, whose sovereignty and beauty exerts enormous influence in the Spartan’s politics. Having established a name through her beauty, vicious rumors of Timaia’s infidelity prevail throughout the land. Succumbing to the hearsay and skepticism, the elders would not want to risk a surmised foreign heir on the Spartan’s throne. Faced by the unpredictability of Leotychides’ pedigree, the elders vote in favor of Agiad as the new King of Sparta. This conclusion, based on historical facts, was the most concomitant to the deprivation of power and the inevitable defeat of Sparta’s supremacy in the region.
At the beginning of this book, there is a glossary that lists terminologies and names employed in the story. Illustrations and meanings are additionally included. To get a more salutary apprehension of the novel and its historical context, one has to read the glossary before proceeding to the narrative. This is what I liked most about the book. I equally enjoyed how the author had delicately woven the fictitious story of Leotychides and the antiquities of the Spartan Empire.
On the contrary, I was disappointed that a map of then Greece was unaffixed as was the name list. Such an addition would have proven valuable because the reader would have a finer geographical understanding of the story as it advanced. Additionally, it was hard to maintain track of the pages as they were unidentified. However, these minor errors did not deter me from enjoying the story.
I found the writing admirable because each character introduced had an impact on the story. The elucidations of the imagery, from the topography to the ensemble and activities, gave me a fill for my imagination. The book is professionally edited and well-organized since I did not find any errors. As a history fan, the wars and philosophies of the ancient Greek paved way for modern thinking and conceptualization. As a result, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend The Fox to young adults who enjoy reading historical novels and anyone interested in Greek history. The book’s fascinating storyline about an ancient civilization not only makes it an excellent masterpiece but also one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve read.
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