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Gates of Fire

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4.40  ·  Rating details ·  29,547 ratings  ·  2,135 reviews
In 480 B.C., two million Persian invaders come to the mountain pass of Thermopylae in eastern Greece, where they are met by 300 of Sparta's finest warriors. The Greek loyalists battle for six days in a prelude to their ultimate victory.
Paperback, 392 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Bantam (first published October 20th 1998)
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Mike McGregor Jr Considering what most movies and television shows portray these days, this book really isn't that bad. I would say if the young teenagers have seen th…moreConsidering what most movies and television shows portray these days, this book really isn't that bad. I would say if the young teenagers have seen the movie "300" starring Gerard Butler, than they have already seen much worse. Besides, that movie was based on a graphic novel that found its inspiration in this book.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. The overall theme trends towards a more adult audience, but there are valuable lessons for any young adult contained within these pages.(less)

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Average rating 4.40  · 
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 ·  29,547 ratings  ·  2,135 reviews


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Petrik
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 300 & Historical fiction fans
Shelves: favorites
One of the two best standalone books that I’ve ever read so far; this is truly historical fiction at its finest.

Lancelot by Giles Kristian was an amazing standalone and now, I’ve found Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I’m starting to feel that historical fiction is the right genre to visit when I’m looking for amazing standalone books. In my opinion, both Lancelot and Gates of Fire achieved what I think at this point is impossible to find in SFF (my favorite genre) books: a standalone masterp
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Randy
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military
Gates of Fire is one of my favorite books...ever. I first read it back when I was in the Marine Corps. It was on the Commandant’s Reading List for a time - required reading for any motivated teufelhund. The author himself is a former Marine, and draws upon his experiences to create a compellingly insightful look at the mental and psychological makeup of a soldier. The concepts of self-sacrifice, service, community, camaraderie, and duty are the thematic core of this historic novel. Steven Pres ...more
Terry
Wow, I loved this. To imagine the reality of this tale to be rooted in real history is beyond my ability. I’m writing this short and inconsequential (in historical perspective) review with tears in my eyes, tears of awe and respect for the warriors of Sparta. May the memories of their deeds of honor, bravery and valor never be lost. This particular telling (and the audiobook) is terrific. If historical fiction is something you might enjoy, do not miss this book. 5.0/5.0 stars.
Terri
Jul 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said here on it's review page...ah, not much. :-)
It is a terrific book. Dense, and detailed and clever and, in many places, exhilarating. Sometimes I felt that the author was being too clever. Sacrificing flow for sometimes not so relevant story background. There is quite a lot of too-ing and fro-ing in this book. Jumping backwards and forwards between different times and sometimes it worked for me and sometimes it didn't. That is why I nea
...more
Smokey
Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Service members and those who wish to understand them
Recommended to Smokey by: Gift from a friend
Soldiers are philosophers by trade, as opposed to nature. Whether they are gifted logicians or readers or not, their profession demands a close association with death and life, fear and courage, love and hate, joy and sorrow. A soldier gets acquainted with these, not as abstract ideas, but as intimate realities which are a part of the day-to-day environment.

When faced with such larger-than-life concepts, though, words often fail, no matter how important or meaningful a place they hold in every d
...more
Stjepan Cobets
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fan of Fiction Historical novel
One of the best book I've read lately. With ease, I was drawn into the story of Spartans. In my head, I imagined each piece of equipment and felt the anticipation of oncoming battles that have become legends. No one can remain indifferent to the heroism of the Spartans who opposed the massive Persian army.
Anthony Ryan
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Whilst Frank Miller's 300 may have captured the spirit of the battle of Thermopylae - elephants and wizards not withstanding, Steven Pressfield takes a much more realist approach. Greece in 480 BC is presented as a place of constant warfare united only by the prospect of imminent Persian invasion. The Spartans are as brutal and oppressive as they are stoic and courageous, so much so in fact that the Persians seem a relatively civilised and cultured lot in comparison. Despite the repugnance much ...more
Ozymandias
The first thing* anyone visiting Thermopylae will notice is that it looks nothing like it should. The shore has expanded outwards dramatically and a highway has been plowed through the middle. Visitors to the site spend upwards of five minutes wandering the short distance from the little parking lot to the hill of the last stand before passing by on their way to more inspiring destinations (2.5 millennia later Thermopylae is still the gateway to the north). They could be forgiven for wondering w ...more
Artemas
Absolutely amazing. Anyone interested in ancient history or military fiction simply must read "Gates of Fire." By Zeus, this is one of those books that everyone should read, regardless of what their favorite genre is. Steven Pressfield has an amazing gift for transplanting the reader into his era of choice.

I could attempt to spend hours writing a witty review, but ultimately it would not do this book justice. So do yourself a favor and add it to your "To Read" shelf, or the gods will surely curs
...more
Daniel Clausen
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-books
This book is about the Battle of Thermopylae in ancient Greece, where 300 Spartans fought to the death. The main character of the book is a slave who is captured by the Spartans. Even though he is a slave of the Spartans, he begins to admire their bravery and courage.

During the course of the book, we see the slave’s hometown get destroyed, we find out how he becomes a slave, and why he admires the Spartans’ courage. We also see the slave become a warrior who fights next to the Spartans. This wa
...more
Trevor
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Trevor by: Richard
Shelves: literature, history
This was an interesting book. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it and had thought it would be a book of history, but was actually a work of historical fiction. It was well told and, from what I know, an accurate enough telling of the story of the 300. Herodotus also tells this story in his histories and it is hardly surprising that a tale of so few holding off an army of so many should be remembered as one of the great military stories of all time. This one is told through the eyes of a capture ...more
Stan
Feb 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
Highly recommended to me, but highly disappointing. This is a romanticized historical fictional account of the Spartans' stand at Thermopylae against the massively superior forces of Xerxes. It does offer a depiction of the warrior culture of Sparta. But the writing: trite, tedious, melodramatic, sometimes overly flowery faux archaic, and at others base sixth grade genital/excrement humor. One of the major humor touchstones was a character whose catchphrase was "Wake up to this", which cracked e ...more
David
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
I read this entertaining 1998 historical novel, which glorifies the ancient military dictatorship of Sparta, in part because it cost only $7.99 for a Kindle download. Then I realized that I couldn't write a coherent review of it, because I still, in spite of the intervening years, am an incandescent tower of blistering but impotent rage at the senseless loss of life and treasure which resulted from the blunderings of the George W. Bush administration in the Middle East in the first decade of thi ...more
Richard
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those interested in Greek History, Military History, Historical Fiction
Steven Pressfield's first foray into historical fiction is a masterful account of the battle of Themopylae (thermos = hot, warm, fire; pylos = spring or gate; hence "Gates of Fire").

Told from the perspective of a captured, critically wounded Spartan helot (all the Spartans died, after all) who is being questioned by Xerxes (King of Persia) for information about the Greeks, the story presents a sympathetic, insider view of Spartan society and accurately presents the values of Greek civilization i
...more
Alicja
rating: 5/5 (more like 4.75 but I'll round)

The story didn't really grip me (although it was still interesting)until the last 3 books (the novel is split into 8 "books" or sections), which were filled with jaw droppingly amazing battle and camp scenes from Thermopylae. I am a sucker for well written battles and soldier camaraderie and this was it, one of the best I've read so far.

It was filled with a ton of historical accuracy, from the events to the historical people and through battle techniqu
...more
Charles  van Buren
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review of Kindle edition
Publisher: Bantam
January 30, 2007
ASIN: B000NJL7QO
531 pages

Like G.K. Holloway's 1066: What Fates Impose, this novel by Steven Pressfield is what historical fiction should be. Well researched story of Thermopylae, true to the time and place, informative, excellent character development and a well written, engrossing story.
Chris Berko
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
About ten years ago I watched a movie titled House of Flying Daggers that my friend said was "a feast of the senses." I thought that was kind of a melodramatic and corny way to describe a movie but after watching it I understand exactly what he meant and it remains one of my favorite films to this day. The sets, scenery, costumes, and colors were beautiful, the script and pacing were a perfect blend of action, intrigue, drama, and romance, and the fighting scenes were well choreographed and edit ...more
Cranky
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
I chose this book reluctantly from my library's audiobook shelf. I thought I should read it because my knowledge of ancient history was pretty gap-filled, and because at some point I'm planning to rent "300" and this would be good background. I always pick up books I "should" read with grudging feelings.

Well. I was foolish to have hesitated over it, because this book is excellent. I'm just a few tracks from the end, and I feel wrecked by it. Knowing the outcome makes no difference--and even thos
...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I'm no lover of brothers in arms novels nor of battlefield butchery, however I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Historical research is evident throughout the narration, I was impressed by the accuracy of the historical facts and the faithful portray of the Spartan society. I was moved by many scenes and dialogues between the characters which investigate interesting psychological and philosophical issues.

The language is beautiful employing the actual Greek vocabulary therefore providing a interesti
...more
Dee Arr
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most historical fiction books, which I do enjoy reading, seldom grab my attention as intently as this book by Steven Pressfield. There are many reasons why I recommend this book. Here are a few of them:

1. The writing carries with it the essence of past days. The writing style of writers like Homer, Plato, and Plutarch have clearly influenced the voicing the author chose to characterize this book.

2. “Gates of Fire” is incredibly researched. Not only is a great story being retold in an imaginative
...more
David
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having just finished all the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, this was a strong change of perspective and tone. I was initially disturbed by the depictions of war and life in ancient Greece. Whether I adjusted over the first hundred pages or it's simply that the most disturbing material is in the beginning, I can't say. I do know that I quickly became engrossed in both the story and setting.

Now I want to see the armor and weapons from the time period so I can better understand the phalanx
...more
GeekChick
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
When I first tried reading this book about the Battle of Thermopylae, after a while I just had to put it down. I didn't know if it was because I just didn't like it, or if it was because it wasn't the right time to read it. So I tried again.

Forgive me for saying something like this, but it's clear the book is written by a man. There is way too much detail, but absolutely no emotional foundation. I think one of the reviewers captured it best when he/she commented on Pressfield's ability in writin
...more
Barnabas Piper
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Steven Pressfield writes fantastic historical fiction. I have read a few of his books, and i think this is my favorite so far. He finds a way to tell a story in great detail without being laborious from a unique perspective without being obvious or cheesy. He is masterful and the story is powerful.
Doug
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. If you have any interest in ancient history, the ancient Greeks, history in general, warfare, or just plain good writing, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

I don't want to be long winded here, because I think most of the other reviews for this book do it justice already. But what Pressfield does here is nothing short of masterful. This is truly his magnum opus. The way that he builds up the suspense to the final, horrifying, and shocking calamity that is Thermopylae, is incredib
...more
Darwin8u
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2013
"Tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that here obedient to their laws we lie."

Good authors are often graced with one great book. 'Gates of Fire' is Pressfield's henosis. It is lyrical, compelling, thought provoking, and soars above most works of historical fiction (at least those that shrug in the mud of military historical fiction). Like most of Pressfield's work, 'Gates of Fire' deals with the common soldier, the grunt, the squire. His narrative is informed by a people's history of Greek hi
...more
Nicholas Sparks
Historical fiction at its finest, this novel recounts the fames Battle of Thermopylae, when a vastly outnumbered group of Greek soldiers took a heroic stand against the powerful Persian Army.
Lee Conley
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A review of
Gates of Fire
By
Steven Pressfield

This is a novel set around the events of the battle of Thermopylae in Ancient Greece, the same battle that inspired the well-known 300 Graphic novel and film. A tale that still captures the imagination of people thousands of years after the events took place. We all know the story; the 300 brave Spartans who stood against the hordes of Persia, hugely outnumbered and yet, still fought and died bravely to the last man, taking a massive toll on the Persia
...more
Nate
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: antiquity, owned
I originally gave this five stars but looking back the constant switching of time and place got irritating near the end. It was fine at first, but when you're in the middle of the gripping titular battle the last thing you want is to zoom away to some other point in time. This is probably the most I've ever learned about the realities and intricacies of war from a single book. If you want a good way to find out exactly why the Spartans are still revered as amazing soldiers today read this book. ...more
Paul A.
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you like your historical novels on the bloody side, this one’s for you. (The gore begin in earnest in chapter 24.) Apparently the book is a favorite of people in the military -- although I suspect if Pressfield had covered the Spartan man/apprentice “mentoring” program in a bit more depth the military might not be as crazy about the book. That said, it hits many of the points they try to instill in people in the various leadership schools.

Along with battle tactics and weapons, Pressfield did
...more
Belinda
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars - English Paperback - I have dyslexia -
In an older notebook I found this lines:
Much surpriced by this book. A slave who' s hometown is distroyed by the spartans, but becomes one of there worriors because he admires them so much. The fight agains the Persians. Loved it. 🌸🦋🌸
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I graduated from Duke University in 1965.

In January of 1966, when I was on the bus leaving Parris Island as a freshly-minted Marine, I looked back and thought there was at least one good thing about this departure. "No matter what happens to me for the rest of my life, no one can ever send me back to this freakin' place a
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