Page 45 Review by Publisher Blurb
A masterpiece by any standards. Why do I love this book so much? The scale, the stylisation, the sandy colouring by Lynn Varley, and the sheer power both of the storytelling and of the story itself.
It's the ultimate in courage and defiance and self-sacrifice, for the events dramatically recounted here quickly became a rallying cry for the Greeks defending against the invading Persians in 480 BC. In spite of what the blurb on the Dark Horse website says, it wasn't quite as simple as three hundred Spartans under King Leonidas taking on, ooh, a quarter of a million Persians - at least not to begin with. They were part of a seven thousand-strong Greek contingent which marched to the narrow pass at Thermopylae, to use its natural defences between the cliffs and the seas below to hold off the invading hoards. But 7,000 against 250,000 still aren't odds on which I'd stack my chips, let alone stake my life, and when Ephialtes betrays them by showing the enemy the route of a pass above, Leonidas did indeed order away his allies so that they could have time to regroup elsewhere, whilst he and his 300 stayed behind to take as many Persians down with them as they could.
Created in widescreen, this will take your breath away: page after page of meticulously composed panels, making full use of silhouettes and (because its location was the key strategy behind the stand) the landscape it's set in. The detail is as rich as the colouring, with those crimson cloaks and burnished bronze shields standing out a mile (a little artistic licence there: I couldn't remember, but Dr. Hanson points out that historically they'd be wooden). But as tumultuous as the colossal confrontations are, as overwhelming the sheer number of arms ("Our arrows will blot out the sun!" "Then we'll fight in the shade.") not once do any of these panoramas seem overcrowded: you can see the trees as well as the wood, as it were.
Its a remarkable accomplishment with a broad variety of design, angle and focus. As to the script, Miller builds it beautifully from the initial, stark simplicity of purpose, to the stolid determinations of leadership and the unflinching loyalty of the Spartan soldiers. And then: it's war.