The Trojan War is the subject of David Gemmelísl new series Troy, which begins with The Lord of the Silver Bow. The god Apollo is called Lord of the Silver Bow, but it also what some call the Dardanian prince Aeneas. A man of many appellations, he prefers to be called by his nickname Helikaon, but most often others call him the Golden One because not only is he brave and skillful in battle and commerce, he is also lucky, as if blessed by the gods. He has not always been fortunate, however, suffering greatly as a boy. He is therefore also given to great rage and seeks vengeance when wronged.
The first half of the book is dominated by Helikaonís story but naturally introduces many other characters. Odysseus appears as an old king and trader with a gift for telling tales. We also meet Priam, king of Troy; Argurios, the most famous soldier of the bloodthirsty Mykene; and Andromache, beautiful and aloof princess bound to wed Priamís oldest and most-beloved son, Hektor, but in love with Helikaon. Two of the more minor characters include Gershom, an Egytpian prince and warrior exiled from his own people; and Xander, a young boy taken to sea by Helikaon in his huge galley ship.
Not far into the book, the stories of various characters begin to intertwine. Agamemnon, king of the Mykene, backs pirates led by the ruthless and unprincipled general Kalonos and also plots to become a major power in the region. The last half the of the story takes place in the golden city of Troy, as the characters arrive for various reasons and battle looms.
David Gemmell writes in straightforward prose that provides an accessible depiction of the ancient world. He draws in bold strokes, however, and there is very little gray in the story. The city of Troy is mostly golden and beautiful; its seamier sides are alluded to, but there is no life to them. The characters are also cast rather rigidly one way or another, which makes them two-dimensional. There is no question that Helikaon, Argurios, or Andromache will be true to themselves, and Kolonos is evil, pure and simple.
But thatís okay. With a story like the history of the Trojan War to work with, Gemmell need not make the people as complicated as the serpentine politics. There is plenty of action, between storms at sea, pirate raids, and to-the-death, hand-to-hand battle. Plus, there is love and marriage, very rarely the twain meeting.
The beginning of the book is a bit slow, but I found the book hard to put down after passing the midpoint. If you are looking for an action story rather than one with fully-realized characters, you wonít be disappointed by this tale of heroism, love, and fate. Note to any pacificists out there: this period of history was bloody, and Gemmell doesnít shy away from such scenes. His descriptions lack excessive detail, however, which lessens their realism and effect.