Not quite as good as the first but still very good.
We start off shortly after the events of the first book. Things haven’t quite come to a head yet, war has not been officially declared, but things are looking more ominous. Andromache and Hektor are due to be married so all the great and mighty on the great green have been invited to the wedding, each with their own agendas at it.
So after spending the first book getting to know our main characters, Gemmell proceeds to ignore them for the first half of the book and focus on two soldiers who had a little bit of time at the end of the previous book, a girl who had barely a mention and Odysseus. We do go back to the other characters after a while but it is a little disconcerting at the beginning. However like the great the storyteller that he is, Gemmell soon makes you care as much about these characters as the others and you forget all about how new they are.
Things definitely take a turn for the dark in this book. There is even more mention and incidents (very brief) of rape and slaughter. This could be a turn off for some people, I think it’s handled well in that it is not glossed over and has consequences but honestly I can’t say for certain. At one stage there is zero difference between the ‘good’ guys and ‘bad’ guys, they are both doing exactly the same thing and as I mentioned in the first book, I would really not like to be an ordinary person at this time period in our world.
The sadness is even more pronounced now, especially in the second half. Gone are the tales round the camp fires, and friends have found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. We all know how this trilogy is going to end so I know it’s not going to get any better but I still can’t wait to find out how Gemmell is going to do it. Though these are dark books, there are always moments that shine and that helps. A great middle entry, though not quite as good as the first.