Long War is a book series of four historical novels which covers the wars between the Greeks and the Persians. The first book is Killer of Men, second book is Marathon, the third Poseidon’s Spear, and fourth The Great King.
I enjoyed reading all four books and following the story of Arimnestos from young boy to his adventures across the ancient world.
These are historical novel with a difference the author is battle reenactor and has worn the Greek armour and done the training that went with it. This first hand knowledge shows in the story and the battle scenes. It also covers the politics between Greek states and Persia as well as their different naval forces and approach to battle. The story is told by Arimnestos to his daughter and starts with him as a young boy training to be smith.
Book 2 Marathon follows Arimnestos at the battle of Lades https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lade where Persian won the battle and its aftermath. The story later covers the battle of Marathon in detail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Marathon
Book 3 see Arimnestos travel west to the Pillars of Hercules in search of Tin and its lucrative trade, brining him all the way to England, while dealing with Phoenician sailors and escaping navies of Carthage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenicia
Book 4 brings Arimnestos to East traveling as the ambassador of Greeks to the Persian court trying avert the invasion, he travels to Babylon and Susa to meets Xerxes I. However it is too late and war preparations are already on the way, story covers the battle of Thermopylae briefly https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae and focuses on the naval of battle of Artemisium https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Artemisium which the author has as the climax of the book rather than the more famous battle of Thermopylae.
The books cover a lot of Greece culture as well as the various cultures that were of part of Persia, more Greece lived under the Persian Empire than in Greece main land.
Arimnestos character is also bronze smith as well as warrior, hence large part of the stories also covers trades and crafts as well as the Olympic games.
Book 3 and 4 are a tour de force of ancient world, a great series and book 5 is due out this summer Salamis.
The book descriptions:
Book 1: Arimnestos is a farm boy when war breaks out between the citizens of his native Plataea and their overbearing neighbours, Thebes. Standing in the battle line for the first time, alongside his father and brother, he shares in a famous and unlikely victory. But after being knocked unconscious in the melee, he awakes not a hero, but a slave.
Betrayed by his jealous and cowardly cousin, the freedom he fought for has now vanished, and he becomes the property of a rich citizen. So begins an epic journey out of slavery that takes the young Arimnestos through a world poised on the brink of an epic confrontation, as the emerging civilization of the Greeks starts to flex its muscles against the established empire of the Persians.
As he tries to make his fortune and revenge himself on the man who disinherited him, Arimnestos discovers that he has a talent that pays well in this new, violent world – for like his hero, Achilles, he is ‘a killer of men’.
Book 2: Arimnestos of Plataea grew up wanting to be a bronzesmith, like his father. Then, in the chaos of war, he was taken to a city in the Persian empire and sold as a slave. To win his freedom he had to show that he could fight and kill. Now, to preserve that freedom, he must kill again.
For the Persians are coming. A vast army sent by King Darius to put down the rebellious Greeks and burn the city of Athens to the ground. Standing against them on the plain of Marathon is a much smaller force of Athenians, alongside their Plataean allies. To defeat such overwhelming force seems impossible. And yet to yield would mean the destruction of everything the Greeks have dreamed of.
In the dust and heat of Marathon, in the clash of shields and the rush of spears, amid the thunder of hooves and the screams of the dying, those dreams will undergo their fiercest test – and Arimnestos and his Greek comrades will discover the true price of freedom.
Book 3: Arimnestos of Plataea is a man who has seen and done things that most men only dream about. Sold into slavery as a boy, he fought his way to freedom – and then to everlasting fame: standing alongside the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon where the Greeks crushed the invading Persians.
Sometimes, however, a man’s greatest triumph is followed by his greatest sorrow. Returning to his farm, Arimnestos finds that his wife Euphoria has died in childbirth, and in an instant his laurels turn to dust. But the gods are not finished with Arimnestos yet. With nothing left to live for, he throws himself from a cliff into the sea, only to be pulled by strong arms from death’s embrace. When he awakes, he finds himself chained to an oar in a Phoenician trireme.
And so begins an epic journey that will take Arimnestos and a motley crew of fellow galley slaves to the limits of their courage, and beyond the edge of the known world, in a quest for freedom, revenge – and a cargo so precious it’s worth dying for.
Book 4: Slave, pirate, husband and lover: Arimnestos of Plataea has been many things in the course of his life. But men remember him best as one of the heroes of the Battle of Marathon, the epic victory that prevented all of Greece from falling under the Persian yoke.
But now there is a new Great King on the throne, determined to succeed where his father failed. As rumours abound of a vast Persian invasion, an embassy is sent to forestall the threat.
Arimnestos is chosen to escort them – an honour he can hardly refuse. But as the storm clouds of war gather and factions on both sides begin to weave their treacherous plots, Arimnestos’ journey begins to look more and more like a suicide mission.
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