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Reviewed by Natalie Soine for Readers' Favorite
Gods of Men: Where the Spartans are Made by Philip Remus tells the story of Lysander, who is deemed a mothax (bastard). At the age of seven, Lysander is sent to the Rearing to become a Spartan. Paidonomos Kleisthenes, a Cyclops, commands the young Spartans with severe punishment if his strict rules are disobeyed. Lysander proves to be a strong fighter and is considered by his peers to be their herd leader. Lysander leads the young boy army in a war game against the ephebe army, which they have never won. Brasidas is to mentor one of the boys, who all dream of having Brasidas as their hero. But only one boy is worthy of him. Lysander must first go on the Phauaxir. This is so much more than a simple test of endurance; it is one of solitude and survival. Of all the tests put to the boys of the Rearing, the Diamastigosis of Artemis-Ortheia is the most important, a rite of passage from the world of children into the world of men. Lysander takes part in the theater in the spectacle of the Hyakinthian Horsemen where he displays his riding skills. To become a fully initiated kryptes would be the greatest achievement of his life, despite how much Lysander had already achieved.
Gods of Men by Philip Remus is eloquently written and well researched with an abundance of historical information. The story is smooth-flowing and creates eager anticipation for the reader to find out what happens next in the life of Lysander. The interesting variety of characters all have their own personalities that are so well captured they seem to come alive on the pages, from the scary Paidonomos Kleisthenes to mentor Brasidas as well as Gylippos and Phrynikos. I especially enjoyed the poetry, fables, myths, and legends included in the story. The dialogue is perfectly written as it would have been at that time, including the humor and philosophies. There is a useful glossary of terms that assists the reader in understanding much of the ancient dialogue. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable and educational novel, highly recommended for all ages.