The Falcon of Sparta

Written by Conn Iggulden
Review by Xina Marie Uhl

Artaxerxes is the Persian king’s oldest son and heir. Cyrus is Artaxerxes’ younger brother, and the main character of the book, at least at the beginning. On his deathbed, the Persian king calls for Cyrus, who comes bearing 10,000 Greek mercenaries, skilled and battle-hardened. Though Cyrus does not believe that his brother will harm him when he becomes king, he is wrong. And so the stage is set for a tale of family rivalry.

If you don’t know anything about Xenophon’s March Up Country, or Anabasis, the 4th century BC account of how 10,000 Greek mercenaries were stranded behind Persian lines and their harrowing journey home, you won’t be caught off guard by how this book starts way before the events of Xenophon’s account. If you do know about it—like I do—once you get your bearings you’ll enjoy this rousing, immersive, historically vast tale of kings, soldiers, and clashing kingdoms. Characters are fleshed out in considerable detail, making them easy to identify with.

While you will be disappointed if you expect Iggulden’s narrative to follow every detail of the March Up Country, general readers of historical fiction will find this novel meets all the notes of a moving, epic tale. Highly recommended.