4 out of 4 stars
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Many civilizations deserve a place of honor in human history. But few surpass the glory and discipline of Sparta. The Fox by M. N. J. Butler outlines the story of a Spartan prince against the background of the glory and splendor of Sparta. Leotychides recounts his life and journey from the heir to one of the Spartan thrones to a bastard seeking redemption. The result is a story about honor, loyalty, duty, love, and betrayal.
As a boy, Leotychides was eager to learn and curious about the intricacies of Spartan culture. He wondered why people stared at him and regarded him with awkwardness. Was it because of his looks, his lineage, or the throne he would inherit? Leotychides' questions are answered in the form of vicious rumors about his parentage and legitimacy. It turns out his father, Agis, might not be his sire. No one could have foreseen the path Leotychides’ life would take because of the question of his parentage and the legitimacy of his claim to the throne. In his seventies, Leotychides writes an autobiography that chronicles his life through the challenges and curveballs life throws at him as a controversial heir to one of the Spartan thrones.
My favorite aspect is the first-person narration. Leotychides tells his story as he writes his autobiography. I felt connected to his thoughts and emotions because it felt like Leotychides was talking to me directly. It felt like I time-traveled to the fifth century BCE and heard the story from Leotychides. Furthermore, the book contains much more than Leotychides' memories and life. Spartan culture and society are prominent features. The historical facts about the social, religious, military, and political aspect of Spartan civilization during the fifth century BCE is accurate and fascinating. Two things take center stage in this book, Leotychides’ life story, and Sparta.
The slow pace at the beginning of the book was a letdown. The author focuses a lot of background information and historical context in the first chapters. Considering how well the author weaves the technical information in the other chapters into the story, I think the author could have made the first chapters more interesting. Another negative aspect is the punctuation and typographical errors. I think the editing can be better. Nonetheless, the errors and slow pace at the beginning do not take away from the story. I rate The Fox by M. N. J. Butler 4 out of 4 stars.
I recommend The Fox to anyone interested in historical fiction novels. The author does an excellent job of blending historical content with his storytelling. History buffs interested in Spartan history and culture will enjoy this book.
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