Leonidas of Sparta: A Boy of the Agore
Leonidas is born the youngest son of one of Sparta’s two Kings, around 520 CE. At the age of seven, he is sent away to agoge – a boarding school where he is trained in fighting, stealth, and the rules of Spartan citizenship, as all sons of noble Spartan families were. He is soon orphaned and survives with the help of his two friends and a family who essentially adopts him, helping him navigate a system harsh enough to destroy even the wealthy son of a king.
This is an appealing book, if only because the author draws such a detailed portrait of a fascinating and almost entirely alien culture. It does, however, lack a certain narrative tension. It is the first of a proposed trilogy, covering the first twenty years of Leonidas’ life. We know, of course, that he will survive to become a king of Sparta, one of the most famous warriors of ancient Greece, and will die holding off the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae. I recommend this for anyone who is looking for a readable introduction to one of the most interesting cultures of the ancient world. I think young adults — especially boys — would find this especially interesting.