Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell

Brilliant read, both sad and uplifting.

This begins David Gemmell’s trilogy about the fall of Troy, though this book starts before the long war kicked off. It’s told from multiple viewpoints, some only a few paragraphs, other’s get much more screentime. Our main POV’s are Helikaon, a prince of Dardania, Andromache, sent as a bride to Hektor of Troy, and Argurios a warrior of the Mykene king Agamemnon. Though there are a few more major ones such as Odysseus and Gershom an exiled Egyptian prince.

The story starts slow, building the tension between the two megalomaniacs that are Agamemnon and Priam. Agamemnon is sending his captains to raid ships of Troy and its allies, under the guise of ‘pirates’ but all players understand what is going on. Agamemnon also receives a prophecy that Helikaon is part of his doom so directs all his warriors and captains to try to kill him, though it can’t be traced back to him. It’s this decision that causes pretty much all that follows.

David Gemmell is one of the few author’s I know that can handle so many POV’s in a book. Usually it drives me mad but he has some knack that makes it seem natural, I don’t know how he does it but he can make a character come to life with only a few lines. The main characters are all brilliant. Only on this read that I truly appreciated how dark Helikaon actually is, in pretty much every story he would be a bad guy. A relatively honourable bad guy but still definitely a bad guy. Thinking about it, there really isn’t anyone who you’d consider a good guy, all have their dark side, even Andromache can be fairly callous.

The world he’s created is brutal. The ordinary person would leave in constant fear of raids, rape and slavery. I don’t know how accurate this is to the actual time period but it does seem alien. Character’s think differently, there’s no pondering whether slavery etc is a problem, it’s simply accepted along with everything else. I like that he doesn’t try to bring modern sensibilities to the characters though there could be some I’m not aware of.

The story moves along briskly but allows time for the characters to develop and the game to play out. The end, indeed the whole story has a melancholy feel as if the character’s know their world and age is coming to an end. Great read.

5 stars

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