The Battle of Salamis: Persian King Xerxes stands over the smoking ruins of Athens, an army of slaves at his back. Come to destroy, once and for all, everything that the city stands for, he stares pitilessly at the hopelessly outnumbered Greeks.
Veteran soldier Themistocles cannot push the Persians back by force on land, and so he so does so by stealth, at sea. Over three long days, the greatest naval battle of the ancient world will unfold, a bloody war between the democracy of Athens and the tyranny of Persia.
The Battle of Plataea: Less than a year later, the Persians return to reconquer the Greeks. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides ready themselves for war. For the Spartans, Plataea is chance to avenge their defeat at Thermopylae.
For the people of Athens, threatened on all sides, nothing less than the survival of democracy is at stake. And once again Themistocles, the hero of Salamis, will risk everything—his honor, his friendships, even his life—to protect his country.
I Still can’t believe that last year I mildly criticized Conn and the Gates of Athens (book one in this series), but I’m very happy to say that this book puts (for me) that blip well in the rear view mirror, maybe its because I became more invested in the characters than I previously thought…. what ever the reason, Protector is brilliant, its a time period I know well and love through the writing of Christian Cameron, so much so I kept waiting for Arimnestos of Plataea to appear.
Protector takes the the story to the battle of Salamis and ultimately the Battle of Plataea, possible the most important Land and sea battles in the history of Europe, if the Persians had won, there would more than likely have been no Roman empire, changing the whole future landscape of Europe and beyond. At this turning point of history our main characters really do come to life Themistocles the wily old veteran and schemer, Xanthippus another veteran and strategos of Marathon whom was recalled from exile and Aristides “the Just” the ideal of Athenian integrity. Its these three strategos who must save Athens, who must devise a plan for victory, and its for them to keep the Spartans involved, because without the Spartan Army all is lost. In Sparta all is a little opaque, the death of Leonidas the battle king at Thermopylae has hit them hard, coupled with their insular society and no love lost between them and athens, a combined greek force is not a forgone conclusion.
Conn Iggulden teases out the story in a hugely entertaining way, condensing time periods as needed, pulling in obscure facts and providing a story that no matter how many times i hear it, never fails to astound me how close to tragedy they became, and how heroic those men, women and children were to have endured and ultimately won against huge odds.
This is a stunning story told brilliantly, and we still have more to come when Cimon and Pericles come to the fore in book 3.