The battle of Salamis. Athens is burning and its inhabitants have taken refuge at the island of Salamis. At the head of a large fleet Themistocles, Cimon and Xantippus are still trying to get the odds in their favour and defeat the Persian king Xerxes. Themistocles’ wits and some luck do the trick, but a large number of Persians move inward. Athens is rebuilding from the ashes but they will need the help of the Spartans to survive. And after the death of their battle king Leonidas, it’s unsure whether they will stand with them or not.
This is the second novel in the Athenian series of Conn Iggulden, telling the tale of the Persians Wars and the Peloponnesian War. I did enjoy ‘the gates of Athens‘ that ends with the fantastic first part of the battle of Salamis. Protector continues the story of this battle and I was immediately drawn into the action.
I had some trouble with getting to know the different characters during the first novel, but this second part felt like a happy reunion with some favourite characters. I definitely prefer Protector over Gates of Athens because it offers more direct action and some interesting character building.
I also liked how the first novel offered insight into the democracy in Athens, whereas this one learns you more about Sparta. You can feel the differences between both realms that will bring them to the other side of the battlefield in the future (I believe the Peloponnesian War will be the topic of the next book in this series?).
The battle of Plataeae is the ‘piece the resistance’ of the novel. My favourite character is Aristides and I loved to experience the battle from his perspective. I also enjoyed the ending, it offers already some closure. There is a new generation coming up for the next book(s). The characterization of Pericles is promising.
I never thought I would find these ancient Greek wars so immersive, but Iggulden has a talent for writing battle scenes and political intriges that will get you on the edge of your seat.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher to provide me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
What’s your favourite novel set in ancient times?