Birth of a Warrior

Written by Michael Ford
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley Hal McNulty

510 B.C. Ancient Sparta. At the end of the first book in the Spartan Warrior series, Lysander, the half-breed trainee warrior, defeats the arrogant Demaratos, to become the victor in the annual games. Now he must cope with the fall out; others, as well as Demaratos, resent his success and they are plotting his downfall.

Now he faces a new challenge. In their final ordeal, the trainee warriors must go in pairs, with an older guide, up into the mountains. There, without food or weapons, they must survive for five days, living off the land and fulfilling the challenges their guide sets them; challenges designed to test their stamina and courage to the utmost. To his horror, Lysander is paired with Demaratos and their guide is the tough ephebe Agesilaus who, Lysander swiftly realizes, has a hidden agenda – to make sure that he, Lysander, doesn’t return.

His cousin Kassandra tells him that Spartans must learn to trust each other and assures him that Demaratos isn’t a bad person. Could Demaratos ever become a friend? But outwitting Agesilaus and facing wild boar and wolves isn’t all Lysander has to cope with. Whilst high up in the mountains, he spots the invading Persian army. Can he warn the Elders in time and will they believe him? And, crucially, will the Spartans be able to defeat a numerically superior force?

As with the previous book, this adventure is full of fights, tough ordeals and lots of brutality. However, this isn’t all it is. Michael Ford poses a number of questions: where should Lysander’s loyalties lie? Should he support Spartan honour – which considers the helots (Lysander’s mother’s people) to be worthless – or protect the helots against Spartan brutality? Ford does not pull his punches about Lysander’s dilemma and there are no easy answers.

For boys of 11 plus.
– Elizabeth Hawksley

This is the second book of the series. I loved the first but I enjoyed this even more because it’s a nail-biting adventure in which the hero, Lysander, displays courage and intelligence. It made more sense of Lysander’s actions and included more side-plots so was very exciting. My favourite character is Lysander’s known enemy – Demaratos – because he always finds a way to cheat or lie his way out of difficult situations.

I like Michael Ford’s work because he always describes something fully so that you understand it clearly. He gives you a colourful image in your mind of the scene at hand. I learnt a lot about Spartan times and how they worked, and what they did. This is an unmissable book, so make sure you read it now!!!
– Hal McNulty