Aaron Gertler's Reviews > Gates of Fire

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
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it was amazing

What a waste it was to make the Thermopylae movie about 300 rather than this novel. I hope Hollywood corrects that mistake someday.

I'm not familiar with the history of the Peloponnesian War, so I'll review this as a novel rather than a "historical novel":

It's friggin' great. It's the manliest damn novel I've ever read, and is also stunningly effective anti-war propaganda (or whatever you call "propaganda" when the propaganda is correct). Here are three consecutive notes I wrote as the Persians' diplomacy inevitably failed to avert the Battle of Thermopylae* and I realized that all my favorite characters were about to die:

- "F**k."
- "F**K."
- "F**K F**K F**K."

Those aren't notes I'd write unless I cared about the characters, and I did care about them, every last brutal honor-crazed one of them. Gates of Fire features a fantastic ensemble cast, alongside a protagonist whose personal story is just as engaging as the story where his friends kill all those hapless invaders and stack their bodies into a big wall.

Heck, every part of this book is engaging, such that (until the part where I started cursing into my Kindle) I didn't feel any real anticipation for the climactic encounter, because everything else was so interesting that I got lost in training camps and port towns and conversations with the Cool Moms of Sparta. (That's maybe my biggest gripe with 300: Where were all the Cool Moms?)

* Pressfield writes the Persians sympathetically, leaving me firmly on the side of "let's join forces and get along" for the duration of the book. (Aaron circa page 300 of Gates of Fire: "Do we really need to preserve the future of Western civilization if it means killing Leonidas and breaking the heart of poor Ptammitechus?")

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 14, 2018 – Shelved

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