The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford is a book I have seen many times when scrolling through the ebook site for my local Salt Lake County Library. I have read the blurb a dozen times but was never too interested in it, I have to be in a certain mood to read about the past, rather than the future. But I told myself to pick a book off of a random page and this is the book that sounded the most interesting at the time. I am glad I read it.
Lysander is a young Helot, a Spartan slave, who spends his mornings training himself to fight and his days working in the fields to earn enough grain to support himself and his sick mother. Helot's aren't allowed to own anything so Lysander is forced to hide the only item of value he has, a pendant he was given at birth. Lysander has been raised to believe that his father died and his mother was enslaved when the Spartans conquered the Messenians.
One day when forced to run errands for his slave master he is accosted and his pendant is stolen. This family heirloom is more important than Lysander ever knew, it is the fabled Fire of Ares. The Fire of Ares was given to King Menelaus by Ares during the Trojan War. He was told that the Fire of Ares would give strength to the righteous.
But when Lysander's true lineage is revealed he is suddenly put in to the Agoge, the training center for the Spartan army. Lysander's older age at the start of his training and his mixed heritage make him the target of the other boys in his age group. Part of the reason he is sent to the Agoge is to track down the person who stole his pendant and to retrieve it. Lysander struggles initially to adapt to the training but eventually he begins to thrive, making friends with Prince Leonidas and Orpheus, a Spartan said to be God Blessed.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book, I gave it a 4 out of 5. I have already checked out the sequel and will be reading it soon!
Birth of a Warrior by Michael Ford - The second book in the Spartan Warrior series. I haven't read it yet but it continues on with Lysander's story.
Liberty by Kimberly Iverson - This is for a slightly older age set, it does include some adult themes. Rhyddes is Celtic woman who has been taken as a slave by the Romans to pay her family's taxes. She was raised on a farm and is trained to be a gladiatrix, a female gladiator. This is a pretty awesome book if you like the Roman games.
Nobody's Princess by Esther M. Freisner - This is a fictional story about a young Helen of Sparta before she became Helen of Troy.