Marathon (Long War)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Two and a half thousand years ago, the Greeks and the Persians fought an epic battle to decide the future of the world...
Arimnestos of Plataea grew up wanting to be a bronzesmith, like his father. Then, in the chaos of war, he was taken to a city in the Persian empire and sold as a slave. To win his freedom he had to show that he could fight and kill. Now, to preserve that freedom, he must kill again.
For the Persians are coming. A vast army sent by King Darius to put down the rebellious Greeks and burn the city of Athens to the ground. Standing against them on the plain of Marathon is a much smaller force of Athenians, alongside their Plataean allies. To defeat such overwhelming force seems impossible. And yet to yield would mean the destruction of everything the Greeks have dreamed of.
In the dust and heat of Marathon, in the clash of shields and the rush of spears, amid the thunder of hooves and the screams of the dying, those dreams will undergo their fiercest test - and Arimnestos and his Greek comrades will discover the true price of freedom.
taught the same things – how to use your shield and your spear-shaft to keep the enemy’s iron from your body, and only later how to plunge the iron home yourself. As the bronze-smith, I had a fair idea who had armour and how good it was. As a group, Plataeans were wel-to-do, thanks to the money Athens paid us for grain. And those famous three victories in a week had put good helmets and greaves in almost every farm. They might not fit every generation, but they were there, and when a new
dead. We were a good group, and every man folowed the nearest target without much shouting and did his duty. Then came the work. We had six dead deer, and we treed them in the apple orchard, split and gutted them, then began to clean them. We were far from water, and despite the chil of the morning, we stripped naked to save our clothes. And we were pious men, and Lykon and Philip, who both revered Artemis, led us in a hymn we didn’t know, and we burned the first fruits of the beasts –
remember – the grand apology, the noble death. Did my mother’s noble death wipe clean a lifetime of woe? Did Cleon’s? Is a great apology the equal of a great crime? I don’t know, and Heraclitus was no longer alive to tel me. We stood on either side of the low-saddled altar of Heracles, clasped arms like comrades and swore to stand together against the Persians, to support each other and be brothers and comrades. We folowed Aristides, word for word, until he finished. ‘Until the Persians
had falen to one knee. I gave him a smile, got to my feet and wandered after him. In the distance, the Medes began to raly. Did I mention that they were first-rate soldiers? Just lost half their numbers in an ambush, and they were coming back. I hate any man who says the Medes and Persians were cowards. The Medes on the sand were wearing gold and silver – professional soldiers wearing their pay. The Athenian archers were poor men and my friend, the first who passed me, were poor men and
abashed. I winked at Stephanos. It was like old times. ‘You’re a trierarch now, my friend. No need to consult me on every raw man.’ ‘I’ve been helmsman on a grain ship,’ Harpagos said. ‘I want him as my helmsman,’ Stephanos admitted. Then he said, ‘I need him where I can see him.’ I liked Harpagos. His embarrassment at al this attention shouted of the sort of solid, quiet confidence that makes a man able to go to sea and fish every day for forty years. ‘On your head be it,’ I said.