The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden

This is a tough one to review without giving too much away as the blurb is deliberately light on information so beware spoilers ahead.

First things first I adored Iggulden’s series about Ghengis Kahn and Caesar and count the author as my absolute favourite for historical fiction.

The great King Xerxes has two sons. He advises his elder boy Darius that one day he will need to kill his younger brother Cyrus to stop him from taking the crown. Many years later Cyrus is summoned back as his father is dying. As the commander of the armies he desires nothing more than to pledge his loyalty to his brother so that he may continue living, training and fighting with his men. Despite being a Persian Prince Cyrus often uses Greek mercenaries, openly acknowledging they are superior in fighting skill and discipline and because of this he takes a personal honor guard of Spartans home with him to bend the knee.

Betrayed by his brother his guard is trapped and overwhelmed and it is only the actions and daring of his mother that sees him escape with his heart still beating. Fleeing for his life and knowing his options he quickly determines that he must raise his own army and take the crown from his brother if he is ever to know peace. What better men to start an army with than Greeks and who better to help lead them than Spartans. The skills and strategies of the Greeks make them almost impossible to overwhelm except through sheer weight of numbers...which the Persians have.

Cyrus takes on a the general Clearchus, a wise and respected Spartan who takes on the huge job or leading the various groups of Greeks as one against the Persians and Xenophon a young Greek with an affinity for horses who has been learning from Socrates and wishes to take his teachings out into the world.

The story is really told in three parts through the eyes of these three men and it’s fantastic. The battle’s are, as always, exceptionally well written, exciting, action packed and full of moments that make the reader feel like they have just dodged a sword or been pierced by an arrow.

I loved this stand alone adventure from Conn Iggulden. It’s fucking brutal yet has more heart than I could have hoped for. 9/10

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