Spartans at the Gates
The Peloponnesian War has begun, and the city of Plataea is besieged by an encampment of Spartans. Athens, Plataea’s ally and Sparta’s principal enemy, is unable to send troops, so Nikias, a young Plataean warrior, defies his grandfather—the famous Arkon of the city—and rides to Athens with a bag of traitor’s gold and a half-baked plan to hire a band of mercenaries. At Nikias’s side rides Kolax, a fearless young Skythian with a talent for riding fast and shooting his arrows with dead-eyed accuracy. Needless to say, the two run into trouble before they even reach Athens and, once there, the political and romantic intrigues of the big city derail their plans and nearly get them both killed.
Spartans at the Gates is the second in Noble Smith’s Warrior Trilogy, and the action picks up right where it left off in Book I, Sons of Zeus. In Smith’s hands, the adventures of Nikias and Kolax, as well as the fascinating characters left back home in Plataea and those they meet in Athens, are exhilarating and packed with plenty of twists and turns. The pacing never slackens and the descriptions—whether of gruesomely realistic battle scenes or passionate lovemaking—put the reader in the moment. Smith clearly knows his history and is able to weave both big themes and minute details into a seamless narrative while at the same time offering large doses of levity that make you care about the each character. I’m looking forward to Book III.