I bought this book when it first came out with good intentions of reading it right away, but like always, stuff kept getting in my way. So, when I finally sat down and read it, I was mad at myself for letting such a good book sit unread for so long. It is supposed to be a trilogy, but with the recent death of David Gemmell, no one knows the fate of book 3 except the powers that be. I hope it gets completed because it is a very engaging story.
From the back of the book:
Three lives will change the destiny of nations.
Helikaon, the young prince of Dardania, haunted by a scarred and traumatic childhood. The priestess Andromache, whose fiery spirit and fierce independence threatens the might of kings. And the legendary warrior Argurios, cloaked in loneliness and driven only by thoughts of revenge.
In Troy they find a city torn apart by destructive rivalries. And beyond its fabled walls blood-hungry enemies eye its riches and plot its downfall.
It is a time of bravery and betrayal.
A time of bloodshed and fear.
A time for heroes.
I don't know how many times I have said this, but Troy and Arthurian history is probably my favourite part of history. I am drawn to novels set in this time period more than any other. David Gemmell is one of those authors that I have always meant to read. He has a lot of books that sound good, but I just never got there. Then one day, back in April, this book was peeking out at me from the fantasy section. I probably would have bought it back when it was available in hardcover, it looked so good, but the bookstore here rarely gets hardcover books in. So, I bought it, and then I got busy and read other things.
I now know that I love David Gemmell's writing style. It is hard to take a well-known legend and make it your own, but Gemmell does a fabulous job with this. I was engrossed in the novel the whole way. So much so that I am getting book 2 as soon as it comes out, and I have been looking up other David Gemmell novels that I want to read. Like Jack Whyte, I find myself drawn into Gemmell's world. Gemmell has totally rewritten that Troy myth, and I think he did a very good job.
We have the main hero, Helikaon. He is the king of the seas, and a prince of Dardania. Treated horribly by his father, he is still battling the scars of his childhood. One minute he is like a god, people look up to him, but then he loses his temper and everyone that has scorned him had better watch their back. He gets his revenge in very ghastly ways. He has assasins on his back, but he always seems able to stay one step ahead of them, even if it means help from the people that become his friends. Helikaon is a great character, even when he does wrong, because he has the good of his people in his heart.
Then we have Andromache. What a character. She is the strong female sort that I am always looking for in novels. It is a male dominated world, ancient Greek and Rome, but Gemmell, like Whyte, manages to include females that are above ordinary for the time. She is her own person, and you know she is dominant when she refuses to bow for the King of Troy. She is well-respected by her peers and goes above and beyond other women in this novel. She too has a shaky past, but seems to have discovered a way to rise above it.
Argurios was not someone I expected to like at the beginning of the book. He is actually Helikaon's enemy, but he is loyal. When he is a passenger on Helikaon's ship, he defends Helikaon instead of doing the low thing and taking advantage of his passage to kill him. He falls in love in this novel, and with this love we discover the man that was underneath the hard exterior. He refuses to give into charity, but he will do anything he possibly can for the woman he loves. The enemy in love with the king's daughter, it opens the most amazing possibilites and leads to one of the saddest moments in the book.
These are just three of the characters that parade across the pages of Gemmell's novel. At the end of the book, when Troy is attacked by their enemies, it is these three that rise above the others and take command. It is them that are the heroes of the novel in many ways. They have all faced so much, but in the end they are able to rise above it in the most amazing ways. This is an action-packed novel that will leave you wishing for more.