Jerry Pournelle/S.M. Stirling
Prince of Sparta (1993)
Reviewed: 1998-05-31

Continuing the Falkenberg/Sparta series in Pournelle's CoDominium universe, this somewhat uninventively titled novel is the immediate sequel to Go Tell the Spartans and shares the same set of protagonists on both sides. Contrary to the previous novel, this book reads like a solo work of Stirling, suggesting that Pournelle's involvement in the actual writing was slight at most.

It turns out that the Helot rebels were not decisively defeated in the campaign in the Illyrian Dales at the end of Go Tell the Spartans. Their leadership has remained intact, they continue to receive off-planet support, in fact more than ever before, they have regrouped and are now again on the attack, both as guerillas in the outback and as terrorists in the capital. The war between the Royal Spartan Forces, trained and supported by Falkenberg's Legion, and the Helots becomes increasingly desperate. Meanwhile, the CoDominium is falling apart.

Prince of Sparta contains some very engaging military action. There are deeply moving scenes of war, death, and atrocities that should bring tears to the eyes of all but the most hardened readers. It certainly gets you thinking. E.g. how many lives of your people are a terrorist's civil rights worth? The book builds on the previous volumes of the series, so it may only be of interest if you have already read those, but it is much better. The only regret I have is that the political science part (Pournelle's forte) is too short with regard to the events at the end.

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