Review: Anabasis, Petri Hiltunen

Rating: 5 out of 5

Xenophon’s “Journey Inland” or Anabasis, perhaps more accurately called katabasis as the crux of the journey is the Greek mercenaries’ quest to escape to Hellas, is one of the original stories. Perhaps more unbelievable the more it gets told, the more interesting it is to look at the men who managed the journey—Xenophon himself and also Cheirisophus the Spartan. I have now read quite a few different versions of the story, and Mr Hiltunen’s is one of my favourites.

When turning any book into a graphic novel there is a certain amount of adjustment that needs to be made by the story-writer. In this case, especially, trying to balance the longer mediums’ ability to pass on information about landscape has been effectively portrayed in some grand and wide scenes. At the same time, the author has also adjusted the story to show Xenophon’s human side—and this on more than one occasion—the reader will be present when Xenophon picks up that shield for that uphill run, but they will also be at Xenophon’s side when Cheirisophus finally acknowledges how Xenophon has proved himself: and what that means for both men.

One specific scene should also always come to mind at the name of Anabasis and that is the moment when the Greeks see the sea: “The sea! The sea!” In my mind, I have always seen it a bit differently: the men crossing one last pass to look down upon the sea. Mr Hiltunen’s view was a series of peaks, with the Greeks having crossed the largest of these, and in the background the mighty Euxine Sea. I cannot fault the artist’s view as they likely put more effort into this than my imagination—in which my scene has stood since first reading about Xenophon’s great journey—but nevertheless I saw it differently.

Overall, a very worthy rendition and one a fan of Xenophon should definitely pick up to read!

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