Legacy of Blood: Spartan 3 by Michael Ford
|Legacy of Blood: Spartan 3 by Michael Ford
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: Lysander's Spartan adventures continue apace, with the defence of an outpost colony. Accessible and light, but accurate and exciting with some implied moral assessment of this mysterious but romantic culture. Ideal for voracious readers and fans of ancient history, especially boys.
|Date: January 2009
Fresh from his heroism against the Persians, Lysander's back at barracks. He's mourning the suicide of his grandfather, Sarpedon, and still coming to terms with his new life as a Spartan warrior-in-training. His mind often wanders back to his years as a Helot slave, but he's forging firm friendships now and his cousin Kassandra is firmly on his side. The Council, however, has a new member, Tellios, who doesn't like Lysander at all. When a stranger arrives from a far-flung Spartan outpost bringing news of a revolt, it's no coincidence that Lysander's boy barracks is the one the Council sends on a suicide mission to win it back...
I like these books about Lysander. The publisher's blurb compares them to the Harry-Potter-in-togas Roman mysteries by Caroline Lawrence, but I think they are much better than that. The Spartan culture is mysterious and incredibly romantic, especially for boys. The idea of a society dedicated to physical activity and fighting is immensely appealing - and of course, it gives any writer the bread and butter of a high octane adventure. Ford gives us plenty of action in an easy to read, plot driven narrative.
He also includes lots of fascinating historical detail about daily life in the barracks, social organisation, battle tactics, and even the geo-political situation at the time. Of course, if you dig a little deeper, Spartan culture is deeply shocking to modern sensibilities. There was no home life to speak of, handicapped babies were exposed on hillsides and left to die, the soldiers were supported by an enslaved population, and thievery was applauded. Ford gets around this by making Lysander half-Spartan and half-Helot and so his central character immediately becomes sympathetic. He can also question the moral basis of his society on behalf of the reader.
The Spartan Warrior series will appeal to all voracious readers, and fans of ancient history, especially boys, aged from about nine to about thirteen or fourteen. They are light, but they are also incredibly entertaining and tremendously interesting.
My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
The obvious comparison is to the mysteries in Ancient Rome by Caroline Lawrence, but Bookbag doesn't like them very much and this series is much better. If they like historical fiction, then Bloodline by Katy Moran is an absolutely corking read.
You can read more book reviews or buy Legacy of Blood: Spartan 3 by Michael Ford at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Legacy of Blood: Spartan 3 by Michael Ford at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.
Karen Lingling said:
I wouldn't compare Ford's work to Caroline Lawrence at all. They are for completely different audiences. The Roman Mysteries concern themselves mainly with daily life in Rome, with lots of good cultural details and a lot of mystery. It took me several books to get into them, but I ended up liking the ones I've been able to get in the States. The Ford books are geared more toward boys who seem to love all the gory details, and fill a much needed gap for books about Sparta.
Enjoyed your web site, but tried not to spend too much time, since a lot of the books you reviewed are ones I can't get.
Karen Yingling Blendon Middle School Librarian
Hi Karen, and thanks for your comments! I see where you're coming from, but would disagree. Aside from the Lawrence more likely appealing to girls and Ford to boys, I don't think the difference is in the target audience at all - both series are suitable for similarly aged children, at a similar reading level, and with a similar interest in historical narratives. The difference simply lies in the societies described - and following on from that, the kind of adventures each child in each setting are likely to have. There are also other similarities, such as the treatment of subjugated races/peoples and the connections each central character makes with them.
It's always good to talk to people interested in children's books from outside the UK, and (although not library editions), you might find thebookbag more useful for book-buying than you realise as we carry Amazon US links whenever the American site carries the book. It's up in the top right there.