Title: “The Virtues of War”
Author: Steven Pressfield
Number of Pages: 368
Date of Publication: September 27, 2005
3 stars: 4 stars for the battles, 2 stars for the story
Steven Pressfield’s novel is listed as historical fiction, and I suppose that it is. However, there is virtually no plot. The whole story is fight after fight- which to some may seem interesting, but I found it boring. Don’t get me wrong, the descriptions are incredible, and it seems as if we are actually at the scene of the battle. Steven Pressfield is obviously a talented writer. I enjoy reading about battles, just not an entire book about them. But I didn’t feel any emotions. I wasn’t excited at the victory, and found myself skimming pages just to see if there would be anything of interest later on in the chapters.
Alexander the Great is undeniably one of the greatest generals who ever lived, and obviously war was a large part of his life. But this story- didn’t make me go “Wow”. If you’re only interested in battles, then you’ll probably like this book. But if you’re like me, and you want a plot along with the battles, look elsewhere.
I’d recommend Mary Renault’s Alexander trilogy: Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games; or A Choice of Destinies by Melissa Scott; or Lord of the Two Landsby Judith Tarr; or even A Murder in Macedonby Anna Apostolou aka P.C. Doherty. All of these books are historical fiction about Alexander the Great. They all have battles, but they also are about his life, his companions (friends/enemies), and his emotions.