Birth of a Warrior: Spartan 2 by Michael Ford
|Birth of a Warrior: Spartan 2 by Michael Ford|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Boys will love this high-paced adventure about the life of a Spartan boy learning to become a soldier. It's plot-driven but also contains a great deal of accurate historical information. A simple but effective writing style makes it widely accessible.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: June 2008|
In the first book in the series, Lysander discovered his true identity as the son of a Spartan warrior. For this second volume, he has left his Helot slave home behind and joined the training barracks all Spartan boys belong to. He'll be a regular in the Spartan army until he's thirty. The training is tough and ruthless and Lysander is expected to show absolute obedience to his commanders. He's not universally liked - he's a mothax or half-breed. But he's making his way though hard work and perseverance. Some things about the Spartan regime still rankle though, and Lysander finds it difficult to hold his tongue. When he's forced to savagely whip an old Helot friend, he wonders if he'll ever be able to fit in.
Sent to the mountains with two other boys to face the Ordeal - a survival test - Lysander spies invading Persian ships on the horizon. To finally prove his worth, he must warn his grandfather and follow his barrack companions into a suicidal battle.
Boys will love this high-paced adventure. It's pacy and tense and Lysander is a tremendously sympathetic central character. He wants honour and glory, but his Helot background gives him a conscience that troubles him far more than his peers. He's also an underdog, fighting for recognition and achieving it only by his own valour. There are plenty of exciting battles and chases and a good dollop of gore for the adrenaline junkies.
There's also a wealth of accurate and fascinating historical detail. The harsh Spartan military system is world famous, yet it rarely pops up in children's fiction and this series makes a welcome change from Romans and Celts. Ford weaves in information about the apoge (barracks) system, weaponry, military tactics and political organisation - and yet it never gets in the way of the racing narrative. The writing is elegant, crisp and clean - there's nothing fancy. A keen reader would probably devour the book in an evening or two and enjoy it, while less confident readers will still find it accessible.
Perhaps not a keeper for everyone, but Birth of a Warrior will make a worthwhile library borrowing for a wide range of readers.
My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
If they enjoy historical adventures, they might also like Slave Girl by Jackie French - this time with a female central character.
You can read more book reviews or buy Birth of a Warrior: Spartan 2 by Michael Ford at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Birth of a Warrior: Spartan 2 by Michael Ford at Amazon.com.
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