The more knowledgeable reader will be brought smoothly up to date in the all-too-brief life of Leonidas while those with more limited background in the field will be, for lack of a better word, "educated". Granted, as this is a novel and not a textbook, there is much of the author herein, but Ms Schrader has indeed done her homework. One gets the feeling that we are not getting some sort of "fantasy" Sparta but rather an interpretation which gives the impression of cleaving pretty closely to reality. The interplay between and among her characters is totally believable and although perhaps not in conformance with the common impressions of Spartan life, nevertheless her descriptions are perfectly believable and do not strain the imagination.
Of course the element of suspense is not present, as we all know how it came out, but Ms Schrader's description of the preparation for and the conduct of, the final stand in the pass of Thermopylae are as good if not better than any I've read previously. She somehow has managed to vividly capture the blood, sweat, fear, and emotion that must have been very real for the soldiers involved and this has been skilfully transported to the reader by the author.
A side note: Having myself lived for several years in Greece, I wonder if Ms Schrader realizes how closely, in her descriptions of daily life in ancient Sparta, she has actually conveyed to the reader an accurate description of personal interactions in any small Greek city today?
This is in sum a superb and easily readable book. As with her previous volumes, it would be totally suitable for older teens with an interest in the period...indeed, I can see its use as a supplementary textbook. My congratulations to the author and my appreciation to her for "breaking the mold" and not cluttering up the book with the usual steamy sexual interludes (in this case probably homosexual). My mother would enjoy this one!