Novels of Ancient Greece

By Jon Edward Martin

In Kithairon's Shadow:
A Novel of Ancient Greece and the Persian War
2nd Edition
Shades of Artemis: A Novel of Ancient Greece and the Spartan Brasidas
The Headlong God of War: A Novel of Ancient Greece and the Battle of Marathon
ShadesCOVER 1
ISBN 0595299067
ISBN 1-4137-4582-2
Spanish Edition ISBN: 978-84-92461-25-7
ISBN 1424195047
In Kithairon's Shadow begins in the year 480 B.C., after the battle of Thermopylae in northern Greece, by following the lives of five different men who will bear witness to the momentous events to come. Asfandiar, a noble Persian and a young Theban collaborator named Eurydamos are enlisted in Xerxes's army of conquest. Athens is
sacked, forcing the Greek fleet to a confrontation off the island of Salamis. Here in these narrow waters, a stunning victory in the greatest naval battle of antiquity gains a brief respite for the Greeks. During the following winter and spring both sides gather their forces while clandestine efforts work to undermine the tenuous alliance between Sparta and Athens. Myronides, an Athenian, Amompharetos the Spartan, and a Tegean farmer named Nikandros leave their homes and converge upon the small town of Plataea. Here the battle lines between East and West are drawn.
This is the 2nd edition with added maps and an expanded glossary.
Shades of Artemis recounts the life of Brasidas, Sparta’s most audacious commander, from his upbringing in the Spartan military school called the Agoge to his induction into the ranks of the ancient world’s finest warriors. Overcoming petty jealousies and the politics of his own country, he finally rises to the rank of general and embarks on a daring mission to bring Athens to its knees and an end to the Peloponnesian War.
With the death of Pericles, the politician Kleon becomes the architect of war policy in Athens, directing the strategy against Sparta. Thucydides, the Athenian general and chronicler of the conflict, bears witness to the brutality of ancient combat, the devastating plague that strikes his city, and the ambition of fellow Athenians that rely on war to sustain them.
In the last quarter of the fifth century BC, these three men would meet in battle on the plains of Northern Greece, and determine the course of the ancient world’s first world war.
September 11th - a strike force has been launched against one of Western Civilization's great centers of culture and trade. Funded by the most powerful man in the Middle East and carried out by his trusted lieutenants, this attack is intended to bring an end to Western democracy…
This is not the attack on the Twin Towers or the Pentagon in the US, but the invasion of Europe by the Persian Empire in 490 BC. On a narrow plain that sweeps down to the Bay of Marathon in Greece, citizens of the world's first democracy will make a desperate stand against the greatest power of the ancient world.
To buy a copy of In Kithairon's Shadow directly from the publisher, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble
To order a copy of Shades of Artemis directly from the publisher at, or Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.
To order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or directly from the publisher at



Reviews for The Headlong God of War

History is retold in vivid detail in Jon Edward Martin's novel, The Headlong God of War. Martin offers background on the larger-than-life figures behind the Battle of Marathon. The author humanizes the battle by providing an inside look into the lives of the significant players.
The story opens with the Athenian, Miltiades, counting down the days remaining to the end of his promise to protect a bridge for the Persian king, Darios. His obedience is the direct result of Darios' expansive invasion of Greece. While the king makes a show of being generous to Greeks he receives into his kingdom by placing them in positions of leadership, Miltiades and fellow Greek, Histiaios continue to yearn for home.
A plot to defeat the Persians leads to the Ionia Revolt and, ultimately, brings together the Athenians and their supporters. Their success is a classic tale of the giant being felled by the little guy.
Martin, the author of In Kithairon's Shadow and Shades of Artemis, has devoted himself to the study of Greek history. His knowledge of this ancient time shows in the intricate details of the cultures represented in the current book. While there are the expected scenes of violence, the story also explores the intimacy of family and the longing to remain in control of one's homeland.
The Headlong God of War is an exceptional book that will appeal to history and military buffs as well as readers who seek a little more substance in their historical fiction."

- Independent Professional Book Reviewers

Ancient Warfare Brought to Life, 30 May 2008
By J. Chippindale (England) -

...The author's books are not what I would class as light reading, but they are well worth taking the time to read properly. By that I mean that they require the reader's full attention. Not the sort of book to be read while watching the television and almost impossible to speed read but they are none the worse for that.
This novel revolves around the Battle of Marathon, surely among the most famous of all the battles that took place in the ancient world. The author's love and knowledge of the subject shines throughout the book. A book that holds the attention of the reader from start to finish. Warfare at the time was brutal and bloody and the author does not pull any punches when it comes to describing the combat. The book gives a wonderful description of the battle and what it must have been like to be caught up in such a conflict.

Reviews for In Kithairon's Shadow

"The author has chosen to base his story on five principal characters, from Athens, Sparta and the Persian Empire, around whose experiences is woven the story of those eventful days when Greece and Persia engaged in their great clash…
…[Martin] successfully captures the bloody and savage nature of the hand-to-hand fighting, which particularly at Plataea, decided the course of the battle. Here he brings to life the reality of ancient warfare".
- MilitaryHistoryOnline February 2003

"Inspired by author Jon Edward Martin's lifelong study of ancient Greece, In Kithairon's Shadow: A Novel Of Ancient Greece And The Persian War is a gripping and deftly written narrative of Xerxes I's aggressive war of imperial domination against Europe which was fiercely waged in 480 B.C. Only a few of the Greek city-states opposed Xerxes seemingly limitless army, and the fate of Western civilization lay in the balance. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of historical fiction, In Kithairon's Shadow is an exciting saga of blood, cunning tactics, and the few who dared to resist the might of an empire."- Midwest Book Review March 2003

...And from readers at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

An excellent read, 20 Aug 2009
By T. M. Wilson (UK) - See all my reviews
I have read all three of Jon Edward Martin's books and they are all excellent. The characters are rich and believable. The settings and scenes are well researched and described and there is plenty of action both military and political. The auther has obviously got a good knowledge of the era and culture of the time and uses this well to create stories that, for me and my friends, can't be put down.

The Battle of Platea comes alive in a readble and enjoyable way., June 17, 2007
By M. D. Thomas "ReadingSailor" (New London, CT
I really enjoyed this read. This book packed in tremendous amounts of history, yet remained fun to read. As one reviewer says it took a bit to get started, but the build up was necessary to fully engage the characters. Some one unfamiliar with the battle of Platea would need those initial chapters. The characters are alive and fresh whether made up or historical. I would highly recommend this book and looking forward to reading Jon Martin's second novel (which I have ordered). This is a must read for fans of historical fiction, especially those that enjoy ancient Greece...

History Disguised as a Novel, January 28, 2006
Kenneth Sohl
Fast-paced, peopled with well-fleshed out characters (some fictional, some historical) and historically accurate, this novel is a godsend for those who wish a familiarity with the subject matter, but hate to read history. Here is a blow-by-blow depiction of all the major events of the second Greco-Persian war in the order that they unfolded as observed by the various participants, yet the novel never seems stilted or contrived, but flows naturally
In Kithairon's Shadow - A fresh look at the battle of Platea, December 20, 2005
Reviewer: P. Houston (Germany)
Jon.E.Martin's first book "In Kithairon's Shadow" brings a refreshingly original but also historically accurate view of the events leading up-to and finally the battle of Platea in 479 B.C. The book supplies the reader with a well balanced overview of the Spartan, Athenian and Persian views of the events at Platea...
...Established students and fans of this period will easily recognise the references to the ancient sources but will be pleasantly surprised in not seeing the source being constantly quoted. The battle itself is quite simply a pleasure to read.. fast moving, full of energy and detail.
Mr.Martin has written what has to be seen as one of the best fictional books on the battle of Platea. A thoroughly entertaing read which I can easily recommend to anyone interested in Ancient Greek history.

Tremendously surprised and pleased with historical accuracy... October 9, 2005
Reviewer: Kenneth L. Forbis
After being disappointed with the Greek historical novel "Gates of Fire" that so many others seemed to rant over, I was suspecting something similar with this author. Was I ever pleasantly surprised and delighted ! Jon Martin knows his ancient Greek subject thoroughly, and is an excellent story teller. His knowledge of ancient Spartan customs is phenominal, and his manner of conveying this knowledge to modern readers is excellent. I very highly recommend this book to anyone who loves ancient Greece, especially ancient Sparta.

Ancient Greece Comes Alive!, March 29, 2004
Reviewer: Dr. J. Stalino (Tuscaloosa, AL) -
As a lifelong fan of ancient history, I found Mr.Martin's novel to be a breath of fresh air. If unfamiliar with this era in history, the vernacular could pose a minor problem, though the novel would still be well worth the read. Mr. Martin uses his extensive knowledge to engulf the reader into a world unkown to many, then surrounds you with well-developed and interesting characters. I anxiously await a second novel.

The gods must be pleased with Martin's first book, February 20, 2004
Reviewer: Debbie (Sarasota, FL USA) -
Keep your dictionary handy, but if you are a fan of ancient Sparta, military history, and this time period, you are in for a satisfying read. Martin's descriptions of the characters, terrain, and battles puts the reader into the mix. The author has done his homework and I
sense his love for this subject matter.

Slow Start, but worth it, January 1, 2004
Reviewer: Thomas Crinfield (Alexandria, VA United States) -
In Kithairon's Shadow, follows in the same mold as Stephen Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire and Tides of War. The novel starts off slowly but eventually captures the reader's interest through its characters. At times the vocabulary is a bit heavy, and the author assumes that the reader has a some knowledge of the historical environment. Nonetheless, as someone who studied the time period, I enjoyed the book immensely and was enthralled
as the battle of platea came to life for me. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in classical history. It is an extremely satisfying read for someone with a knowledge of the time period, as Mr. Martin did an excellent job of researching the subject

History Without the Text Book by Anonymous

March 25, 2009: In Kithairon's Shadow provides detail about the little known battle of Plataea, fourth of the major battles of the Persian invasion of Greece.
The style is different than other historical authors of this period - instead of following one main character, Martin chose to create 5 character threads, and it is a little confusing for someone without some previous knowledge of the history.
The characters are secondary to the plot, which was the massive invasion of Greece by Xerxes of Persia and the final land battle that occurred in 479 BCE. If you are looking for romance or deep psychological probing of characters, look elsewhere - if you want action and almost raw facts spun into a great tale, the book will satisfy.
The chapters are short forming an almost snapshot style approach that challenges the reader to connect the dots. It seems to follow Herodotus faithfully without too much fabrication of events, or customs as Pressfield builds into his novels (Gates of Fire, Tides of War).
It proved to be an entertaining alternative to learning about history without the tedium of a textbook. A must read for anyone who wants to follow the Spartans of Gates of Fire or 300, to their victory over the Persian Empire.

J. Klemanakis, history teacher, September 14, 2004,
It's about time...
It's about time someone wrote about the battle of Plataea! Thermopylae and Salamis get all the press, but this was THE battle that saved Greece and the West. It begins a little slowly, mostly to set up the 'history', but the author, using real characters from Herodotus, relates the story from the human level in his attempt to explain a complicated event. Other authors dwell on the Spartans, or the Athenians, but Martin does a good job of taking an
average farmer from a small city-state and through him tries to explain the battle through the eyes of the 'common man'. For a person like me who has studied more than a little about ancient Greece, the vocabulary could be handled, but the casual reader might be slowed down with the Greek names, although a glossary is included. All in all, I highly recommed it.

Leonard Hickey, A history buff, April 16, 2004,
A Great Sequel to Thermopylae
At times the book is challenging to keep pace with, because it trys to follow five characters, but the story of the battle of Plataea is recounted accurately. The names are tough (but again historically accurate)and the reader gets every point of view, Greek and Persian, farmer and aristocrat. The battle scenes get a bit graphic, but no more so than a Pressfield novel. If you want to find out what happened after Thermoyplae, In Kithairon's Shadow will be well worth the read.

Reviews for Shades of Artemis

Writers Circle, January 2006 Rated 9 out of a possible 10
Shades of Artemis
will appease both the history major, and the casual reader alike. Jon Edward Martin brings to life the commonly accepted impersonality of war, and introduces the reader to the character of Brasidas, the epitome of a Spartan soldier. With the emotions and thoughts of Brasidas, Martin acutely describes the lifestyle of the Spartans, from initial boyhood training to the final moments of life, and service to Sparta.
At first, the many authentic Greek words may confuse the reader, but once the definitions are realized and understood, the novel flows with few obstructions. Martin’s extensive knowledge of ancient Greece and literature blend together to form a realistic image of the characters and situations, creating a truly captivating novel.

Historical Novel Society April 2005
This novel is set in the fifth century B.C. in ancient Greece, immediately after the combined forces of Athens and Sparta defeated the mighty Persian Empire. The novel follows the fortunes of Athens, Sparta, and their natural rivalry through the lives of three men: Brasidas, the main protagonist, whose unorthodox yet highly successful strategies helped to forward Sparta’s military agenda; Cleon, the Athenian demagogue; and the Athenian general Thucydides, whose chronicles of the Peloponnesian War contain the historical basis for this novel. The story begins by following the extensive military training of Brasidas from an early age, his colleagues, the drama of his early life, and his primary opponents. The drama moves back and forth between the youths of Cleon and Thucydides in Athens, and that of Brasidas in Sparta. As the story progresses, the reader follows the rise of these three men in their respective historical positions, reaching a climax with Cleon becoming thearchitect of war policy in Athens, Thucydides’ recording of the horrors of ancient combat and the plague that strikes Athens, and Brasidas’s efforts to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War with Athens. This novel is well constructed, and the drama is ongoing and exciting. The author provides a list of main characters at the beginning of the book and a glossary of terms at the end. These two additions helped me to follow the storyline much more easily, given that there are many terms, places, and names that may be unfamiliar to most readers. Once acclimated to the characters and the semantics, however, the author guides the readerthrough the interesting lives and careers of the important men in Athens and Sparta at the end of the Peloponnesian War.
Brad Eden - Historical Novel Society April 2005

...And from readers at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Brasidas is honored, July 16, 2006
Amazon Reviewer from Battle Creek, Michigan United States -
I remember while reading Thucydides how I thought "Wow, this Brasidas fellow is one very competent General." Following a popular approach, Jon Edward Martin has breathed life into this historical figure, and in doing so he made the General into a living, breathing human who comes complete with a Spartan code-of-ethics. Like most historical novels that detail ancient Sparta, we get a grand tour of the Agoge. Martin shows Spartan upbringing in all its brutal and arduous detail. While minute details of the Agoge are hard to come by, historically, Martin does a great job of expanding on the well known anecdotes that are known of the training.
The best part of the book for me was Brasidas' character development. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, the sign of good fiction is that it seems more real than if it had actually happened. While much of Brasidas' makeup was obviously fabricated in this novel, I can't help but think that the historical Brasidas would have shared the core values of the Spartan represented in this novel.
If you're a fan of ancient Greece and the Spartans, this book is for you. Those who wish to learn more about the landmark Peloponnesian will doubtlessly find this historical novel insightful.

A stunning novel of the Pelopenesian War, April 7, 2005
Amazon Reviewer from New York
This novel makes a good companion to Steven Pressfield's "Tides of War" Both take place during the Peloponnesian War. However, the focus of each novel is different. While Pressfield's work revolves around Alcibiades and the ill-fated Athenian expedition to Syracuse, neither are mentioned at all by Martin. Instead, Martin has focused on the Spartan Brasidas and the rivalries in Sparta concerning how to fight the war. Thucydides also plays a large role in the book.The rivalries in Sparta in mirrored in Athens, where Pericles wants to stay behind the walls of Athens, while Kleon wants to attack. Be forwarned, however, that Martin's work is not for those without familiarity with Thucydides or the war. There are no maps and there is little, if any, explanation of background events. For example, if you don't know where the Chalcidice is or the importance of Amphipolis, you will be lost. For those with a good knowledge of Greek history, Martin has created a stunning work of historical fiction.

By H. Megerisi - May 25 2008
Shades of Artemis was a gripping well written novel. It is set during the Peloponnesian war in the pseudo Golden Age of Greek history. It touches on the culture, terminology and immerses you in the details of what life may have been like whilst weaving a tale of two imaginary characters on the Spartan and Athenian side; embroidering a classic classical account of honour, duty and the cultural souls of what the Athenian and the Spartans may have been like.
I found it well researched, and almost akin to a well thought through but imaginative Archaeological Trieste. Well it would be nice to think so anyway!
Definitely well worth reading, kept me occupied till the end, my only critique though, is that it was a touch Holywoodesque at times, but that was in line with the style and genre. Well worth a read.

And from Barnes and Noble...
J. K., reader of history, April 28, 2005,
Fascinating look at Sparta
hades of Artemis is not for the casual reader - the author sticks to authentic Greek names and takes the reader around ancient Greece assuming it's a familiar place. But if you know a little ancient history the story is fascinating. Brasidas, the Spartan, growing up in a tough and ruthless city, his life is paralleled and contrasted by following the life of Thucydides, an rich Athenian. Both meet in peace time, then face in other in battle later. Spartan life is not romanticized (as in Gates of Fire). The main theme is how a talented Spartan soldier finally rises to a top command, after watching lesser men fail his city. The detail is rich, but it doesn't slow the book down at all. It's worth a look.

The Battle of Plataea

The actual battle, fought in 479 BC, was a complicated affair spanning almost two weeks. To read an article about the battle of Plataea click MilitaryHistoryOnline.
Looking north from Plataea to the battlefield
Mount Kithairon


Attika and Athens - 490 BC

Greece and Asia Minor - 490 BC

attika2 aegeanmap




spartaacrop2 artemisorthia
View from the acropolis of Sparta towards the Taygetos Mountains.
The ancient acropolis now is a park covered in olive trees
The remains of the temple of Artemis Orthia


Persian Landing Site
dog's tail
View from the Persian beachead looking towards Probalinthos
Grove Of Herakles - Greek camp - looking toward the Persian lines

Jon Martin's Background

author at marathon
Author at Marathon Battlefield
For most of his adult life Jon has pursued and nutured a passion for history, both ancient and military, which has motivated him to read and research extensively on these subjects. This well-spring of information, combined with a college major of English Literature, inspired his writing. Beginning over twenty years ago with magazine articles focusing primarily on WWII armor and tactics, he has since embraced historical fiction as a way to populate history with living, breathing personalities, and hopefully kindle this same interest in history with others. Within his own family this seems to have worked—both a daughter and two sons chose history for their college majors.
One single culture has captured his curiousity and admiration—Ancient Greece. This fascination only grows in intensity for Jon, and has compelled him to travel to Greece, not for the cursory excursion of a tourist, but to walk on the same dusty roads, scramble over every toppled stone, tromp across the unchanged battlefields and stand upon Democracy's threshold. In Jon's words: "It is amazing with what precision the ancient writers have described their land, for Pausanias, Herodotus and Thucydides prove as valuable in navigating the country as does any modern guide book.
"Beyond the pitifully brief treatment Ancient Greece receives in standard high school history courses, there is so much more to learn, to admire and to be in awe of. It is sad that we, the new guardians of Western Civilization, are so ignorant of our fore-bearers. We owe them much".
Why theses stories?
"The study of ancient Greece has always fascinated me, but the recent events, including the attack on 9-11 forced me to re-assess what is it about our culture in the West that fosters ideas like freedom, individuality and intellectual liberty. This question brought me back again to ancient Greece, to the people who passed on these values to us, and like us had to fight to protect them. 2500 years ago the Persian Invasion of Europe nearly snuffed out these notions entirely. The battle of Plataea and the events leading up to it have been neglected by authors, so I decided to write the novel I always wanted to read.
"In the case of Shades of Artemis, it was a profound admiration I developed for the Spartan Brasidas after beginning research into the Peloponnesian War—a patriot in the true sense of the word.
"Marathon and the battle there enables all that follows..."
Jon is a member of the Historical Novel Society, a great place to visit if you want to know what is going on in the world of historical novels. He also is the advisory editor for Sparta - Journal of Ancient Spartan and Greek History
Anyone interested in ancient Sparta will enjoy Helena Shrader's website and her novels.
Please send any questions or comments to Jon Martin:

All photos and maps provided by J.M.