The Queen of Sparta

Written by T.S. Chaudry
Review by Nick Brown

The Spartan Queen, Gorgo, who married her father’s half-brother, Leonidas, is an enigmatic and intriguing woman who we catch a tantalising glimpse of in the pages of Herodotus. To attempt a credible fictional biography from such slight and enigmatic evidence demands detailed background of the period and a love of the source material. The author has both.

T.S. Chaudry has written a re-imagining of Gorgo’s life based on a series of ‘what ifs’ and has revisited the early and later stages of her life through a relationship between her and a Scythian war lord, Sherzada, who, following his capture in battle, is her prisoner. This is a story of great breadth which covers the history of the Greeks, Persians and Romans over a period of almost fifty years and describes some of the most important events of the ancient world.

Chaudry is particularly good in his coverage of the Greco-Persian war from a Persian perspective which is usually overlooked, history tending to be written by the victors. His grasp of the material is excellent and he manages to present his alternative history in a convincing light and back it up with evidence. Anyone who loves this period will enjoy this tale of the rapidly changing political world Gorgo and Sherzada inhabit.

This is a thoroughly researched and well produced book and the author’s love of the ancient past shines through every page. My only slight criticism would be that such an ambitious project covers a great swathe of history from two differing perspectives and involves skipping back and forwards in time and location. In certain passages this serves to hamper the narrative flow of the book. This caveat aside, The Queen of Sparta is an intriguing and thought-provoking read.