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In Sparta, southern Greece, a close-knit group search for the buried traces of a formidable ancient power. A latecomer, Ben Mercer finds himself drawn to their brilliance and charisma: to the double-edged friendship of his countryman Jason, Natsuko and Eleschen, and the menace of Max and Eberhard, who idealise the extremes of the ancient Spartans.
Tobias Hill was born in London. In 2003 the TLS nominated him as one the best young writers in Britain: in 2004 he was selected as one of the country's Next Generation poets and shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. His collection of stories, Skin, won the Pen-Macmillan Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. The Cryptographer, his third novel, led AS Byatt to observe that 'Hill is one of the two or three most original and interesting young novelists working in Britain today.' His fourth novel, The Hidden, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.