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Title: Last of the Amazons: A Novel
Author: Steven Pressfield
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Amazon Editorial Reviews
The author of the international bestsellers Gates of Fire and Tides of War delivers his most gripping and imaginative novel of the ancient world–a stunning epic of love and war that breathes life into the grand myth of the ferocious female warrior culture of the Amazons.
Steven Pressfield has gained a passionate worldwide following for his magnificent novels of ancient Greece, Gates of Fire and Tides of War. In Last of the Amazons, Pressfield has surpassed himself, re-creating a vanished world in a brilliant novel that will delight his loyal readers and bring legions more to his singular and powerful restoration of the past.
In the time before Homer, the legendary Theseus, King of Athens (an actual historical figure), set sail on a journey that brought him into the land of tal Kyrte, the “free people,” a nation of proud female warriors whom the Greeks called “Amazons.” The Amazons, bound to each other as lovers as well as fighters, distrusted the Greeks, with their boastful talk of “civilization.” So when the great war queen Antiope fell in love with Theseus and fled with the Greeks, the mighty Amazon nation rose up in rage.
Last of the Amazons is not merely a masterful tale of war and revenge. Pressfield has created a cast of extraordinarily vivid characters, from the unforgettable Selene, whose surrender to the Greeks does nothing to tame her; to her lover, Damon, an Athenian warrior who grows to cherish the wild Amazon ways; to the narrator, Bones, a young girl from a noble family who was nursed by Selene from birth and secretly taught the Amazon way; to the great Theseus, the tragic king; and to Antiope, the noble queen who betrayed tal Kyrte for the love of Theseus.
With astounding immediacy and extraordinary attention to military detail, Pressfield transports readers into the heat and terror of war. Equally impressive is his creation of the Amazon nation, its people, its rituals and myths, its greatness and savagery. Last of the Amazons is thrilling on every page, an epic tale of the clash between wildness and civilization, patriotism and love, man and woman.
With an epic scope and keen sense of detail, Steven Pressfield has created an entertaining and vital reimagining of the Amazon legend with his historical novel, Last of the Amazons. Combining myth with history, Pressfield offers a conjectural account of the legendary female warrior tribe as it may have existed in the years leading up to its extinction. Following the Athenian-Amazon war in the fifth century B.C., Amazon warrior Selene is taken captive and placed as an unlikely governess to the two daughters of a high-ranking Greek. The three form a lasting bond, and when Selene eventually escapes to return to Amazonia, eldest daughter Europa follows her. The Athenians, including King Theseus, assemble a group to find them, eventually traveling to Amazonia. Here, those involved relate the story of the Amazon war to the men, and the book's action really begins. Narrators tell of Theseus's earlier voyage to Amazonia, where his weakened crew was given shelter by the Amazons; the love affair between Theseus and Amazon queen Antiope; and the terrible consequences of the queen's defection and the Amazonian invasion of Athens that it inspired.
Throughout, Pressfield instills Amazons with a grandiose sensibility, firmly modeling it after the Homeric epics of its time. Pressfield relishes in describing these events and their heroes with a divinely consequential spirit:
Antiope advanced…Clearly no few of the foe took her for a goddess, with such splendor did her armor gleam and by such brilliance did her aspect exceed the common measure of humanity. The hour was still early, the west-facing slope deep in shadow, so that the Amazon, seen from the besiegers’ lines, advanced from gloom into flares of blinding dazzle.
Some clumsy dialogue and clichéd interactions hamper the book’s emotional resonance, but the level of intricacy and constant action on display here keep the pages moving along. Amazon is ultimately an impressive, fun read that renders history spectacular in its speculation. --Ross Doll
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