Life is a journey and the joy of reading fiction is to be transformed into a journey more interesting and exciting than the one we trudge through day-by-day, paycheck-to-paycheck. For those readers who like their heroes hard-bodied with conquests bloody in battle and insatiable in the boudoir, Jack England’s first novel Sword of Marathon will both sate your appetite, and whet it for more.
Mr. England says there are two more instalments coming and why not. His heroes, Luke and Hal, are young and robust. Their swords and battle skills sharp. The younger Hal is the best bowman in the land. Meanwhile the older Luke is the epitome of the master swordsman. No challenger’s head or bowels is safe against him in battle, while at the same time he has every damsel from Athens to Halicarnassus wanting to jump his bones.
Alas, he’s shy and inexperienced, but fear not dear reader, Luke hooks up with the ultra-experienced Agariste who uncovers his natural talents. By the time our young hero falls for Misia, a young Carian princess, he is, shall we say, battle-tested.
There is no ambiguity as to who are the good guys and who are the bad in this tale of ancient Athenians and Persians. Although when the convoy of ships is attacked by the man-eaters, well, its hard to know who to root for. Even our hero falls in love at first sight with an attacker of “intoxicating primal beauty” who intends “to cleave Luke’s head in two…”
The author’s classical liberal point of view provides a refreshing ethos over the story. The brothers are seeking traders for their amber. The money is as sturdy and reliable as our heroes and the author deftly introduces some Hoppian critiques of democracy along the way.
However, those looking for Rand-like pages-long ideological rants will be disappointed. Mr. England keeps the political preaching to a bare minimum while the swashbuckling and lust is constantly amped up, nicely softened by the author’s dry English wit sprinkled throughout the dialog.
Sword of Marathon is a page-turner that will get your pulse racing and your mind wandering. The perfect escape from life’s drudgeries.
Mr French is obviously a man of discerning enlightenment.