3 out of 4 stars
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Hail to the Wolves of Sparta!
Take a step back and plunge into history with Wolves Of Laconia by William A. Lamon. Intriguing and interesting, the author's accurately researched and vividly detailed narration brings Ancient Greece alive again, unveiling the rigid rules and the subtle mystique that has always fascinated me. It's just unfortunate that, due to the many grammar mistakes, I can only rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
One night, seven-year-old Andronikos (Nikos), son of Hippagretas, is wrenched from his bed and begins his training as a Spartan soldier. Now an old man, he reminisces about his youthful preparation and the consequent conflict against Athens during what will be known as the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC).
Joining the ranks of one of the most disciplined and fierce armies in history is no easy matter. No wonder that Nikos's coaching turns out to be so brutal and harsh. He has to endure heat, cold, fatigue, lashings, combats, beatings, any sort of hardship that will transform him into an obedient warrior ready to fight and die with honor for his city.
Under the tutelage of his mentor, Gylippus, the help of his childhood friend and loyal battle squire, the helot Messulius (Stout) and the allure of the beautiful Gorga, Nikos will strive to fulfill his obligations to kin and state while serving in the Wolves of Nike, the courageous left flank of the royal guard.
It is really a pity that Mr. Lamon has so little familiarity with articles, punctuations and proofreading because the plot is surely worthwhile. He describes the fighting techniques with such accuracy and precision that I feel like I was there on the battlefield, right alongside Nikos. The way he portrays the relationship between men and women is another plus of this tale, and not because it's anything romantic or poetic. In all aspects of life, Spartans are in it for the domination, which is especially true when it comes to sex. Nikos and Gorga make readers realize that Spartans must conquer everything in the most ferocious way possible, and this is an integral part of the learning process of all boys, as though to love and to kill were one and the same. So, I now also understand how Sparta instructed its cubs and persuaded them into becoming an unbeatable killing machine. But what makes the story more likable for me is Nikos himself. With the doubts crowding him in his old age, he comes to question some of his indoctrination, thus becoming less clear-cut and more human.
It is a thoroughly enjoyable read for anyone who appreciates ancient history and is thirsty to learn more yet isn't too punctilious about grammar.
Wolves of Laconia
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