The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden – A Book Review

The Falcon of Sparta

 

Blurb

In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others.

401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India.

As many as fifty million people are his subjects.

His rule is absolute.

Though the sons of Sparta are eager to play the game of thrones . . .

Yet battles can be won – or lost – with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy’s empire, without support, without food and without water.

Far from home, surrounded by foes, it falls to the young soldier Xenophon to lead the survivors against Artaxerxes’ legendary Persian warriors.

Based on one of history’s most epic stories of adventure The Falcon of Spartamasterfully depicts the ferocity, heroism, and savage bloodshed that was the Ancient World.

 

Author: Conn Iggulden

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: 03/05/18

Pages: 448

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My rating of ‘The Falcon of Sparta’: 3 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US

 

Review

I received this book for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of those books that I was thrilled to get accepted for on Netgalley. It’s a historical fiction about Spartans. Literally one of my favourite groups of people from ancient history. I dropped pretty much everything to get started on this one.

I kind of wish I hadn’t rushed into it. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for nor as exciting as I had expected. Don’t get me wrong, the last half of the book was a thrill ride. It’s just the first 50-55% that was so boring I struggled to get through more than twenty or thirty pages in a sitting.

Going by what little I know of the actual conflict involved, and by the author’s historical notes (which were wonderfully informing. I really do enjoy the historical note part of any historical fiction book), it seems to be fairly accurate to what happened (obviously despite the changes the author mentioned having taken artistic licence with). But I just couldn’t help reading the first half with an air of ‘so when is something going to happen, because right now you just have a few thousand men walking through the desert complaining about money’.

I know, the whole issue of pay was a big, neigh huge, concern for Prince Cyrus and the Greek mercenaries that followed him. But I just feel as though there really wasn’t anything gained from a storytelling standpoint or from a character growth standpoint by reminding us of the lack of funds chapter after chapter in bursts of a dozen pages or so at a time. The book could have been made more compact and enjoyable if constant re-reminding was lessened.

With my biggest drawback being the utter tedium of the first half, I can happily say it is kind of worth it for the second half. Things pick up in a big way. There are huge battles, character development (because until this point it felt like there absolutely none. All of the characters acted and talked the same. It was very difficult to distinguish one man from any other on his personality alone) and just everything I wanted in the first part of the book to get me hooked and involved.

We are treated to hope, joy, misery, betrayal, heartache and grief in the last part. We were treated to grumpy men trudging through the sand in the first part with a bit of betrayal to make things a little more lively.

I have given The Falcon of Sparta a three out of five rating and that is purely for the latter half of the novel. I had hoped to give it more as I had such high expectations.

 

6 thoughts on “The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden – A Book Review

  1. As a fan of Xenophon and someone occasionally reading historical fiction I think I might like that, I’m a patient reader. I’ve heard a bit about Iggulden, and I even got a few of his book, but never read any. I wonder how he compares to, say, Cornwell… from his covers, I had a feeling Iggulden might be more adventure than history…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prefer Cornwell to Iggulden. To be honest, Giles Kristian is probably my favourite historical fiction author right now.

      For fans of Xenophon, I’d suggest this book. They will probably get more out of it than I did. As I said, though, the last half is brilliant. So it’s worth the slow build up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this review! I totally enjoyed the entire book – the details of interaction between the characters kept me enchanted through the first half. Iggulden brought the build-up to the military campaign alive for me, as well as the harrowing events following the death of Cyrus. I recently got a copy on Netgalley too and reviewed it on my blog: https://theshieldofachilles.net/2019/01/20/book-review-the-falcon-of-sparta-by-conn-iggulden/

    Like

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