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Monday, July 20, 2009

Tides of War

Tides of War:
A Novel of Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War
by Steven Pressfield
audio book: 17.75 hours

*** What It Is About ***

This book tells the story of the rise and fall of Athens under Alcibiades, a general in ancient Greece who was like a god among men. Under his leadership Athens attempted to conquer much of the (known) world. When battles were lost and the Athenians' faith in him wavered, he turned against them and sided with their enemies, the Spartans. Then he turned against the Spartans and rallied Athens again. Then he ... well, you get the idea.

*** My Thoughts ***

I have to say, I was rather disappointed in this book. I mean, after the way the Spartans were glorified and praised in GATES OF FIRE, I was all about loving Sparta. Then in this book, they are the enemy and all the things that made them great in the other book are criticised. OK so I realize that is what war is all about, demonizing your enemy and all, but I don't have to like it!

But seriously, I was not really a fan of this book. The story is truly fascinating but I felt too distant from it, too uninvolved to really care what happens next. The narrative framework is rather convoluted: aging Athenian Jason tells the story of Polymides (friend of Alcibiades) to his grandson, as it was told to him by Polymides himself. Sometimes Jason narrates and other times Polymides tells his own story. Most personal details are left out or glossed over, as they don’t affect the outcome of the epic of Alcibiades. But for me, that was the fatal flaw – I NEED something personal to latch on to otherwise I don’t care about the story.

*** The Audio Book ***

The narrator of this book was George Guidall and he was fantastic. I've listened to other books he's done and he always seems to get things just right. I've mentioned before that a narrator can ruin a book for me but in this case he made me enjoy it more than I would have otherwise.

*** Other Links ***
  • I reviewed another of Pressfield's books, GATES OF FIRE, here.
  • Lezlie reviewed another of his books, this one set in WWII, here. She is the one who introduced me to Pressfield's books.
  • I couldn't find any reviews of TIDES OF WAR ... if you've reviewed it please let me know and I'll add you in here.


Lezlie said...

Oh! I'm sorry you didn't care for this one. I haven't read it yet, so I'm curious to see if I feel the same.

Thanks for the link!

Heather J. said...

Lezlie - No worries, but I'm thinking that Pressfield's style isn't one of my favorites. :)

Lit and Life said...

I totally agree with you about the narrator on audio books. I think some books might even benefit from having two readers, male and female.

Heather J. said...

Lit and Life - Yes, that sometimes does help.

Nymeth said...

What a pity this was a let down! I was thinking it would fit my recent craving for books set in ancient times nicely.

Heather J. said...

Nymeth - You never know, it COULD be a good one for you. But I think, based on your post where you talked about not connecting with characters in some books, that this really isn't up your alley.

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