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Thursday, November 12, 2020


“The Gates of Athens” is a monster read (443 pages) and an exceptionally gripping tale of the clash of two nations – tyranny versus democracy. (Review by Barry Meehan)

 “If you want freedom. prepare for war” reads the tagline for The Gates Of Athens, Conn Iggulden’s latest historical offering, the first in his brand new Athenian series. 

As can be seen from the impressive list of titles below, Iggulden is an expert on the subject of warfare from bygone times. The Gates of Athens takes us back to 490 BC when King Darius of Persia has conquered great swathes of Europe and Asia and brought about an era of peace and prosperity. There is one major thorn in his side, though – Greece, whose citizens refuse to bow to an outsider. The Greeks have brought into being what they refer to as the Assembly – the first example of democracy in the world, and they are not prepared to give up this hard-won ideal.

The first half of the novel covers an epic battle fought on the plains of Marathon as the Greeks take on the might of the Persian army. Iggulden’s writing style is flowing and fluid, taking us to that famous plain and describing in excellent detail the cut and thrust of the tactics employed by both sides in the bloody conflict. The main Athenian Army leaders at Marathon – Themistocles, Miltiades, Aristides and Xanthippus – are well-crafted and true to historical fact.

 Ulterior motives come to the fore after the battle, with leader against leader in a treacherous political maelstrom with dire consequences awaiting the losers.

Warfare rears its ugly head again in the second half of the novel. Darius has passed on and his son, Xerxes makes it his life’s work to bring his father’s dream of crushing the Greeks into reality, assembling a mighty army and fleet that no nation could possibly withstand.

The Gates of Athens is a monster read (443 pages) and an exceptionally gripping tale of the clash of two nations – tyranny versus democracy. I look forward with eager expectation to the follow-up novels in the Athenian series.

Previous novels from Conn Iggulden (amongst others):







           The Gates of Rome

           The Death of Kings

           The Field of Swords

           The Gods of War

           The Blood of Gods


           Wolf of the Plains

           Lords of the Bow

           Bones of the Hills

           Empire of Silver


Conn Iggulden’s The Gates of Athens is published by Penguin Fiction. ISBN 978-0-241-35124-6 – Barry Meehan