Seven Against Thebes

Seven Against Thebes


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Reviewed by Lindsay

A captivating and informative romp through ancient Greece, this book is part of the new trend in which the rigors of historical research are combined with a dramatic narrative and the imagined thoughts of real people. While this combination obviously blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction, Seven Against Thebes applies the grounds of research enlivened by a spritely dynamic narrative. Set in the Archaic period, just prior to the famous Trojan War, lovers of Homer will find similarities between the two sieges in a format where historical details flesh out the story. Conversations between characters and their thoughts puts the book into a historical grey area, on a subject in which historical sources merge with mythology. The reader will be amused by the similarities to the siege of Troy, that ultimately it is trickery and deceit that the battle is won.

Beginning with a retelling of the dire story of Oedipus, the book puts his tragedy in a new light. Oedipus’ sons, Polynices and Eteocles, battle it out for ultimate control of the seven-gated city of Thebes, in the greatest war of the pre-Trojan period involving Argos, Sparta, Athens, Corinth and many lesser players. The seven heroes perform heroic deeds, but as with the siege of Troy, the battle is ultimately won through trickery and deceit. Overall, Seven Against Thebes is a highly readable historical novel, and an excellent way to introduce readers of fantasy to the world of ancient history.