When Olivia Coolidge writes fiction, it reads like literate history, which limits the readership but offers much satisfaction to the few. The life of Metiochus, son of Miltiades (Athenian commander at Marathon), is poised from early childhood against the intrigues of the Greeks, later against their reluctant allegiance to and rebellion from Darius the Great and the crucial confrontation between the Greeks and the Persians at Marathon. But Metiochus is more than an excuse to recreate events; neither is he tossed from Greece to Persia merely to distinguish between the two cultures. When he first sets eyes on the captor who will lead him to Darius, he determines ""that in the three months journey he (will) make the commander see him first as a slave among slaves, then as a man, and at last as an equal."" Accepted as an equal by the Persians, he lives as a Persian and dies at Marathon as Darius' ally; he has reflected on how different his life might have been but accepts it as fate. In a juvenile this is tantamount to a settler supporting his Indian captors in a raid--but the book shouldn't be praised only for not following a formula. In each of his roles Metiochus convinces as a natural but not Untroubled leader and great occasions are composed of precise moments--especially Marathon With its impact of bodies against bodies like battering rams. The author knows and respects her material and the reader will too.