Date finished: 2006-09-03
This novel about the Peloponnesian War is longer and more sprawling than Pressfield's earlier novel Gates of Fire, which was about the battle of Thermopylae. In fact the temporal scheme of this book is pretty complicated, with narration nested within narration, and at times I became confused on returning to an enclosing frame -- where are we again? which character is the narrator now?
The book follows the career of Alcibiades, who began as an Athenian but was cast out after his disastrous expedition to conquer Sicily. Here there's an excellent and chilling account of the battle of Epipolae, an assault by the Athenian forces that was repelled by Spartan forces and shattered the Athenian army. Alcibiades's loyalties shift constantly, from Athens to Sparta, from Sparta to the Persians, and finally to the Thracian tribes. As seen through the eyes of Polemides, another Athenian expatriate who's working as a mercenary, Alcibiades is brilliant in battle and constantly spinning off stratagems to conquer Sicily, to take over Athens, or to unite the Greeks against the Persians.
As in the earlier book, Pressfield conveys the chaos, terror, and stench of battle very well. The complexity of the many framing stories and narrators made the novel flow less smoothly -- transitions always required remembered where we were and who was speaking -- but it's still an excellent book.
%T Tides of War %A Pressfield, Steven %K novel, classics, military %@ 2006-09-03 %D 2000 %P 427pp %G ISBN 0-553-38139-3 %I Bantam %* *