Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date published: October 2009
Reviewed by Valerie
Obtained via publisher
Ben Mercer feels his life is over. The former Oxford student has a failed marriage, no direction and so he goes off to Greece. There he ends up working in a remote village in a restaurant, under rather primitive conditions. There, he meets his former professor, Eberhard, who lets on that he is on a dig in former Sparta. Ben is intrigued as his own thesis on Sparta is on hold. Ben ends up at the dig where the group at first treats him with distance. As he starts a relationship with Natsuko, and goes on a hunt for jackals, most of the group warm up to him. Then Ben finds out a terrible secret that the group has been hiding for him and he now understands why they didn’t trust him in the beginning. Can Ben and Natsuko get away from the group without any repercussions?
I expected more from this story. The history of the Spartans was interesting. The facts that not much is left of their history and so much is a mystery were captivating. The archeological descriptions were also interesting as was the descriptive prose. Unfortunately, I found the story slow moving. I had a hard time warming up to the characters and I also found it difficult to understand the motives of the villains. This is not your usual mystery/thriller. I would imagine readers who read a more literary type of story would enjoy this one. I also haven’t made up my mind about the ending. Nonetheless, the writing style kept me reading this book or I may have put it down before reading to the end. My usual reading fare has lots of action, snappy dialogue and characters that leap of the pages. I found none of this in this story. Still, as I mentioned before, it is interesting and it has gotten lots of rave reviews in the British press.
THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF THIS BOOK. THIS IS AN OBJECTIVE UNBIASED REVIEW