This week I finished listening to The Falcon Of Sparta by Conn Iggulden on Audible. I’ve recently read two other books by Iggulden called Darien and Shiang. I’m not sure what category to put those books into, possibly fantasy or magical realism. I really enjoyed Iggulden’s writing though so I wanted to read more of his work. Iggulden is better known for his historical fiction, which is a genre I love so I decided to dive into one of those. I nearly went for a book about the War of the Roses (and probably still will at some point). But that’s a period in history I often read about so I went for The Falcon Of Sparta as it’s not a period I know anything about.
I found the story really interesting. As with all historical fiction, I found myself wondering how much of the story was true – a bit of light Googling when I finished suggested that most of it was as far as it’s possible to know when going that far back in history. I got the impression that Iggulden is an author who does his research well and builds up an authentic story around it.
With historical fiction, I also always find myself wondering if I should know more about the story, but my history knowledge from school is pretty terrible (my parents still regularly reminisce about a teacher telling them that ‘history is not Danielle’s bag’). So the story of a Persian prince’s quest to wrestle the throne from his older brother and the subsequent fallout from that civil war was new to me. There were some parts that really surprised me about the story and it took a completely path to what I expected. I guess that’s the benefit of historical fiction – life goes down paths that we might not believe so easily if the story was an original one. Also this story has survived over 2000 years so it’s obviously a good one which Iggulden brings to life with believable characters and writing that didn’t disappoint.
Because I listened to this on audiobook, there are a couple of extra boxes a book has to tick. First up I’m usually listening whilst doing something else (in this case, I mostly listened whilst decorating the kids’ room). That means a story has to hold my attention otherwise I find my mind wanders easily. The Falcon Of Sparta mainly did that except I found that some of the battle scenes lost my interest (I’m not massively into battle scenes) and I found some of the characters hard to keep track of at the beginning because I wasn’t familiar with any of the names.
The other aspect specific to audiobooks is the narrator. At first, I thought it was narrated by Michael J Fox and got regularly distracted throughout the book that the narrator didn’t sound like I remembered Michael J Fox sounding, especially when Teen Wolf came on the TV. Turns out that’s because it’s not narrated by Michael J Fox. Michael Fox, without a J, was however a great narrator. Easy to listen to without his narration drawing attention from the story.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading another of Conn Iggulden’s stories. For now, I’ve hit pause on ‘The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read’ so I’m reading ‘The Last Banquet’ by Jonathan Grimwood and listening to ‘How Not To Be A Boy’ by Robert Webb.