The Spartan Dagger

Nicholas Guild. Forge, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7651-0
The central premise of this novel by Guild (The Assyrian) set in ancient Greece strains credulity. Protos, a 14-year-old helot boy, is horrified to witness the slaughter of his parents by twin Spartans, Eurytus and Teleklos, as part of the Krypteia, a ritualized hunting down of human prey. Protos manages not only to survive but also, thanks to his skill at throwing stones, to knock out Teleklos and then slit the killer’s throat with his own dagger. Eurytus’s attempt to avenge his brother’s death leads to more violence that transforms the helot into an adult. Protos’s turning the tables on his attackers is just the first improbable development. The remainder of the book covers the next decade or so of his life, during which Protos launches a series of attacks against Spartan soldiers and becomes the leader of a revolt. Readers should be prepared for thin characterizations as well as some pompous prose (“somehow that night, in the chill, black solitude of a mountain cave, the child died and the man was born”). Agent: Al Zuckerman, Writers House. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/10/2016
Release date: 12/27/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-5138-2
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