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Gates of Fire is a historical fiction novel written by Steven Pressfield in 1998. The book revolves mainly around the war between the Greek forces against the imposing Persian army. The Persian forces are being led by the King called Xerxes and he deploys his forces to Thermopylae, which is the only viable gateway into Greece for the Persians. However, the Persians' numerical superiority is limited in Thermopylae as it is a narrow passage but it is the perfect point for the Greek forces, who are led by Spartans, from the city of Sparta. Spartans are extremely well trained in military experience and the Greek forces keep the Persians at bay for as long as they can but the numbers of the Persian army prove to be overwhelming. In the end, the 300 Spartan soldiers achieve victory. The story is told mainly from the point of view from the scribe of King Xerxes.
The book was written by the author to explore the Greek mythology surrounding Sparta and the legacy of their warriors who were extremely adept at fighting. The book was also written to revisit the infamous battle that has been told in Greek mythology many times, that is the battle between the small Greek forces led by Spartans and the impending Persian army led by King Xerxes.
The book was received well by critics and fans alike. The book was congratulated for the unique way in which it told the story and Stephen Coonts, the famous thriller novelist, commented that the book was 'a timeless epic of man and war, exquisitely researched and boldly written' and that 'Pressfield has created a new classic'.
Aly Brown Military Science 101 Gates of Fire November 8, 2013 Essay Gates of Fire Steven Pressfield
“I had always wondered what it felt like to die” (Pressfield page 3).
Xeones, a greek captive comes back to life after sustaining life threatening injuries and being dead for several hours, is brought back to life by the God Apollo so that he can tell
“an infantryman‟s tale”
(Pressfield page 2), and of the battle of Thermopylae, for King Xerxes.
Xeones‟ story is a
personal one that tells about his struggle through life, until its end which is met through the battle of Thermopylae.
At 9 years old Xenoes‟ town in which he lived
was pillaged. His parents killed, his cousin Diomache was raped and his home burned to the ground. Xenoes, Diomache and Bruxieus (the old slave who looked after them), left their damaged town and went to the woods. He taught them about the plants and animals around them so that they could survive. Xenones and Diomache stole food and supplies from different towns and villages so that they could survive. They foraged for food and recused two pups, (Happy and Lucky), who helped them hunt for food. Both of the youths learned to hunt using bows that they had made from supplies that they found or stole.
He taught the youth‟s morals and perseverance to live and to fight, so that they
take care of themselves. Bruxieus, tried to keep the two youths tame by reciting poetry and by making them promise that they would one day find a tow
n, because if you don‟t belong to a town
then you are nobody. He was a father figure for both Xeones and Diomanche. Xenoes got caught stealing a goose from a farmer and they mangled his hands. After this
event happened, Xenoes‟ dreams of becoming a soldie
r were shattered and he went off into the woods one day to die. Before he froze to death, the God, Apollo fire striker shot an arrow near Xeones and he took it as a sign that it was not yet his time to die. Shortly after this event, Burxieus died. After lamenting his death the two teenagers realized that it was time for them to fulfill their promises and find a city to belong to.
Diomache is Xenoes‟ cousin, though she views him as a brother. Xenoes; however, is in love with her. “I vowed that I would marry Diomache one day. I would be man enough and warrior enough to protect her” (Pressfield page 25).
Diomache, does not feel the same way about