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400 BC:  THE STORY OF THE TEN THOUSAND by Lewis Helfand

400 BC: THE STORY OF THE TEN THOUSAND

By Lewis Helfand (Author) , Lalit Kumar Singh (Illustrator)

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: May 31st, 2011
ISBN: 978-93-80028-61-3
Publisher: Campfire

Despite plenty of spattered blood and armored warriors sporting the oversized thews of Conanlike barbarians, this fictionalized graphic rendition of Xenophon’s Anabasis fails to give the renowned retreat much life or drama—or even to tell a coherent story. The narrative of foot soldier Eustachius opens with the realization of the Greek mercenaries that they’ve been suckered into taking on the entire Persian army and then follows the core that survives the battle of Cunaxa (and the death of Cyrus, their employer) on its more than 1,000-mile march through hostile territory back to Greece. It is brought to grinding halts first by an overlong flashback to peaceful times and later by a lurid but superfluous dream. Not only does the soldiers’ relentless bickering form a distracting backdrop to the exhausting marches and costly battles, but much of the visual action is squeezed into small inset panels where it shares space with boxes of wordy dialogue and commentary. Furthermore the art looks sketchier in some panels than others, and the characters (particularly when their faces are obscured by wraparound helmets) tend to look alike. Fans of Frank Miller’s epic 300 (1999) may be lured by the similar title, but will come away disappointed. (Graphic novel. 12-15)