|Submitted by Ben |
(Feb 09, 2008)
I'm a huge fan of ancient history, especially the Greco-Roman era, and for a long time I read nothing but non-fictional and biographical books on the subject. I got Gemmell's second installment to the 'Troy' series ('Shield of Thunder’) from the library on a whim of curiosity not expecting much from it. The era of Troy had never been as great an interest to me and I wasn't entirely sure I'd enjoy a fictional story based on the subject matter. I was very pleasantly surprised. Gemmell had taken Homer's wonderfully interesting characters and made them even more so by giving us a closer look at their personalities. So naturally I had to go back and read 'Lord of the Silver Bow' and was even more pleased with this book. The way he decided to tell different aspects of the legendary story, instead of just the same legend containing a beautiful woman and a thousand ships crossing the Great Green, gave myself as a reader a whole new outlook on this era. This was a genius idea since we never hear much about the events leading up to the siege of Troy even though for 10 years battles raged on before the ‘city of gold’ fell. Since we really don't know much about this era except for the work's of Homer and archeological findings, Gemmell has created a fictional back story thus far that feels like it could be actual history, and for all we know, it might be. In 'Silver Bow' he even goes as far as to offer different theories as to what lead to the battle for Troy giving a more realistic and less fantasy back story that makes it feel has if we're reading a genuine story with real characters. I do enjoy fantasy-oriented stories but to read a realistic telling of this particular story made it that much more compelling for me. Gemmell does a remarkable job of character dissection showing that even the greatest heroes have vulnerabilities and inner conflict. The reader is not force fed who is evil and who is good but instead he allows the reader to make there own decisions. Even the most noble of the book's characters has inner demons and is capable of great atrocities and the ruthless can show acts of honor and kindness. This is very refreshing for a reader because it forces you to open your mind and realize that all people are capable of good and evil. There is no flawless hero like we so often see. Continuing with that theme the book is full of great qualities but if forced to choose it's biggest strength for me it would be the characters. Each one is written with great detail which I'm sure was no easy feat because there are dozens of key ones. Gemmell has an incredible skill of writing characters you can thoroughly enjoy whether you like them, hate them or are just plain unsure how you feel about them, each and everyone is very intriguing. I've read reviews that accuse the book of being too slow at times and I couldn't possibly disagree more. It's wonderfully paced and is always keeping you guessing with well-planed and well-timed twists. Is it a perfect book? No, but who cares? I'm not a critic but I've read thousands of books and 'Lord of the Silver Bow' is right up there as one of my all time favorites. I can't wait to read the final installment to this brilliant work. I said before that prior to reading Gemmell's books I had little interest in the era of Troy but that has since changed immensely. 'Lord of the Silver Bow' is one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable novel I've read in quite sometime.