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MARATHON by Boaz Yakin Kirkus Star


by Boaz Yakin, illustrated by Joe Infurnari

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: June 19th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59643-680-0
Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Retold in expressionistic blurs of action, this account of the battle of Marathon chronicles at once a glorious win for the underdogs and an awe-inspiring personal achievement.

Cruel Hippias, former king of Athens, is on his way back with a huge army of Persians to reclaim the throne and crush Athenian democracy. As the city’s squabbling and much smaller forces hustle to meet the invaders, Eucles, Athens’ best runner, is charged to race the 153 miles to Sparta in hopes of finding an ally. Battling heat, sun, bandits and pursuing enemy troops, Eucles makes the trek, then makes it in reverse with the dismaying news that the Spartans will not be coming in time. He joins the savage fight and then runs 26 more miles over rugged mountains to Athens—dying on arrival but not before both announcing the victory and warning of an impending surprise attack by sea. Using sepia washes to indicate present time and black and white for flashbacks, Infurnari fills patchwork panels with glimpses of rugged faces, slashing swords and jumbles of martial action with “KLAK” “CHK!” sound effects. Yakin draws from ancient historical and legendary sources but adds invented incidents to round out Eucles’ character and elevated dialogue to heighten the epic atmosphere: “The gods have laid a feast both bitter and sweet before me.”

Among the most historically and culturally significant battles ever fought, Marathon gets righteous due—and so does its greatest hero. (Graphic historical fiction. 12-15)