Gates of Fire is written by Steven Pressfield, a graduate from Duke University. The author joined the United States Marine Core as a rifleman until 1971. The author is able to incorporate a relation to how the Spartans train to go to war. In Pressfield’s book he writes about the battle of Thermopylae, and about a fictional character named Xeones who helps shape the novel. Throughout the book Xeones shares personal experiences in the world around him, and how the destruction of his home city inspires him to fight for what he believes in.
In this book review many ideas will be explained, and will help explain the reasons Pressfield wrote Gates of Fire.
Steven Pressfield used the knowledge of a couple of his colleagues, Hunter B. Armstrong and Dr. Ippokratis Kantzios. Each of Pressfield’s friends helped him identify the fighting tactics, weapons, and history during the ancient Greece time period. With Pressfield’s own ideas and the help of his colleagues, he creates a fictional novel that contains accurate historic events.
The author made sure to have historic facts and important names included to help create the book. Steven Pressfield completed his novel in 1998 making it a recent book. He is also among a few authors that have recently created a novel surrounding the events of Thermopylae.
Pressfield present themes and information about Xeones and the Spartans to help shape the style of writing. In the book Pressfield mentions the punishment Xeones got when he tried to steal a goose, “The men of the farm dragged me into the mud of the livestock pen and nailed me to a hide board the size of a door, driving tanning spikes through both my palms.
” The author introduces the harsh punishments that may be given for stealing during this time period, and the risk Xeones is willing to take to stay alive. Later in the story Xeones is whipped for following the Spartan army when he is not allowed. Xeones shows his determination to follow out what he believes he needs to do. He wants to go to Sparta to become a helot, and then avenged his destroyed hometown. Xeones stays faithful to his hometown and continues to ponder on his old home. The 300 Spartans share the same ideas as Xeones, and they are willing to die to protect their hometown. Xeones and the Spartans are strongminded, brave, loyal, and determined to fight for what they believe in.
The novel is well organized and constructed. Xeones died in battle and starts off the story discussing his afterlife experience. Apollo tells Xeones he will return to earth to share the events that took place in Thermopylae. In the quote Xeones tells what he experienced coming back to earth, “I saw another light, a sicklier, cruder, more coarse illumination, and knew that is was the sun. I was soaring back. Voices came to me through physical ears.” Xeones talks about his life and how his family and hometown got destroyed. He then describes life living in the mountains, and how he needed to steal food in order to survive. Years later Xeones becomes a squire to Alexandros. Later in the book Alexandros is picked to be part of the 300 as well as Xeones. Xeones’s injured hands prevent him from holding a shield or sword, but it does not stop him from wanting to fight with the Spartans. Xeones describes the battle of Thermopylae as a blood bath. Xeones describes the end of the battle for the Spartans in a quote, “As when a hailstorm descends unseasonably from the mountains and hurls from the sky its icy pellets upon the husbandman’s newly sprouted crop, so did the bolts of the Persians in their myriads thundered down upon the Spartans and Thespians.” Xeones helped tell the story of Thermopylae, and later in the book the historians continue the final chapters.
Steven Pressfield uses Xeones throughout the book to help explain what the Spartans stand for. In the book Xeones talks about the ruthless training the Spartans endure, and how it takes a dedicated and brave person to grow up training to fight. Spartans do not back down from a fight and would rather die than to retreat. Xeones talked about how the Spartans won many battles with great war tactics, and how high levels of training helped them accomplish victories.
The subject of the book contained the idea of the Spartans wanting to fight the Persians for what they believed in. In the battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans may have lost, but in the end the Spartans actually won. David Fryre explains the importance of the Spartans fighting in his article, “Persia represented the old ways — a world of magi and god-kings, where priests stood guard over knowledge and emperors treated even their highest subjects as slaves. The Greeks had cast off their own god-kings and were just beginning to test a limited concept of political freedom, to innovate in art, literature and religion, to develop new ways of thinking, unfettered by priestly tradition.” The Greeks wanted to introduce new ideas to help promote freedom.
The book is up to date with accurate information. The battle of Thermopylae happened in 480 BCE, and the author included this date in his book. 300 Spartans did fight in Thermopylae. Xerxes also ruled the Persian Empire during this time period. The Spartans did have help from their allies.
Steven Pressfield created a book to identify the training and sacrifices the Spartans went through. He used the character Xeones to help tell a series of events that led up to the battle in Thermopylae. Pressfield told how the Spartans conquered many enemies, and talked about what it takes to be a Spartan. The novel teaches that blood needed to be shed to make a difference in the world we live in. The Spartans fought so citizens can have freedom to live how they want. Even today people continue to fight for what they believe in. Without the heroic actions of the Spartans many ideas, and actions would not have taken place to shape the modern world.