Rating: 5 out of 5
I think that this is my third reasonably close encounter with the katabasis — or, at least, that is how Xenophon’s ‘Anabasis’ is often remembered, after all, mainly being a description of a return journey from inland to the sea. The story is a poignant one, death and destruction await at every step, and though the reader might be aware — perhaps should be aware — of the final cries of ‘Thalatta! Thalatta” that echoed by the shores of the Hospitable Sea, the detail is in the journey.
Mr Iggulden’s take on the classic is well worth reading because of the scope that the author gives it. There is more background to the conflict and the persons that partake in the stories than in either Xenophon’s ‘Anabasis’ or Michael Curtis Ford’s ‘The Ten Thousand’ from what I remember. Indeed, the setup and the characters are the best part about this retelling. Xenophon is the natural favourite but both Artaxerxes II and Cyrus the Younger also come out quite interestingly.
So, in short, I recommend this! It won’t be to everyone’s liking, but, for me, the entire concept of Xenophon’s march inland and back is a story worth knowing. Mr Iggulden has expanded on that story to turn it into a very readable narrative (not that Xenophon himself wasn’t!).