Synopsis from Goodreads.
The epic tale of the original marathon runner—just in time for the 2012 Olympic Games
It was a turning point in ancient history.
It inspires men to greatness.
It was the foundation of one of the greatest and most prevailing global peace efforts of the 20th century.
It was the greatest feat—and the tragic death—of a man whose legacy will never be forgotten.
In 490BC, an Athenian messenger named Eucles ran 153 miles from Sparta to Athens, and in so doing preserved ancient Greek civilization from subjugation to the Persian Empire.
This is his story.
TEMPERATURE: 108 DEGREES, FAHRENHEIT
When I was younger, there would come a point, every summer, where I wouldn’t see my dad for about 21 days.
Jo- “Dad, can we go out to the park? It’s actually sunny today!”
Papa W- “Open a window or something then.”
Jo- “Dad, I just got my shoelaces caught in my bike and I just fell over my handlebars and landed in a patch of nettles and I’M BLEEDING TO DEATH.”*
Papa W- “Go and ask your mum for a plaster.”
And the reason? The reason for my childhood neglect?! **
The Tour de France.
You may be wondering why, in a book review about the origins of the Marathon, why I am telling you about a traumatic childhood memory.
Two reasons, really:
1) This is the reason why I’m not a rabid sports fan.
2) The siblings and me used to visit my grandparent’s for a few weeks every summer. This was mostly because we absolutely loved going to visit them and they loved having us, but … sometimes I wonder whether it was just a coincidence that it happened to fall on the weeks when the men are scaling the Pyrenees.
Now, I’m getting to the point.
I’ve come to love the cycling and I’m currently glued to watching the lad’s bid for this year’s Grand Slam but my true love will always be the athletics.
And this is because of my grandma.
Every year, the two of us would sit in her living room and drink tea while we watched the Olympics and the championships and we would discuss the chances of GB bringing home gold and how fit Philips Idowu looks this year.
Well, that could have just been me because my grandma will always be a fan of the running events (and *cough* the lycra-clad runners. It seems my grandma would rather have a runner as a grandson-in-law than a triple jumper with “silly coloured hair and facial piercings” *sigh* grandmas, eh?) and, here is where this story becomes relevant, we’d always get up early to defy time zones and watch the marathon.
(Got there in the end, didn’t I?)
So when I found out that there was a graphic novel about the origins of the race on Netgalley, I had to request it.
One of my resolutions this year was to read more historical fiction and, well, I don’t think I could get much more historical than a book set in 490 BC.
My knowledge of Ancient Greek history begins and ends with the one time when one of my friends made me watch 300 and I fell asleep. So, as you can imagine, there were times when I got incredibly confused as to what was happening. But, even though there were a few parts that tripped me up, I appreciate that Yakin didn’t feel like he needed to regurgitate a history book. I sometimes feel that authors are so determined to let the reader know just how much research they have done that the story gets lost, but it really wasn’t the case here. The dialogue wasn’t crammed with historical detail and it always felt natural.
Yakin’s words perfectly portrayed the strength, the drama and the tension of the original story of a man who is willing to do the impossible to protect his city.
For the majority of this book, my heart was pounding and there was an uncomfortable lump in my throat!
And Infurnari’s illustrations… wow.
The details in the battle scenes are nothing short of spectacular. I spent about ten minutes just staring at one particular page trying to take in every single section.
I have to admit, there were a few characters that looked really similar and I found it a bit difficult to tell who was who and why the baddie has suddenly become a goodie and the goodie has become a baddie.
There were far too many angry men with beards in this book.
But, on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s something completely different to anything I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this to anyone who is a fan of graphic novels, historical fiction and sports.
*This actually happened. Well, not the whole “bleeding to death” incident but I did fall into some nettles and I scraped the skin off my nose. School pictures were, of course, the following week because my life, ladies and gentlemen, is ridiculous.
** This may have been slightly exaggerated for comedic value.
I received this book from the publishers via Netgalley.