Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell (Trojan War Trilogy: Book 1)

Lord of the Silver Bow is the first story in Gemmell's Troy trilogy and it was a joy to read. Although this is the first Gemmell book that I have read, I know that he is often heralded as the King of writing Heroic Fantasy. His skill in this field mixed with a story incorporating some of the greatest mythological heroes of all time seems to me like a perfect mix and aid in making this a stunning historical fiction book.

Although the narrative follows about ten points of view characters, the main protagonist is Aeneas who is mainly known here as Halikaon. Halikaon - The Golden One is a Prince, a legendary warrior, apparently blessed by the Gods, loyal to his comrades and feared by his enemies. The book opens with King Agamemnon being advised by the spirits that Halikaon will lead to his downfall. Following this King Agamemnon then offers the individual who assassinates the Prince their body weight in gold.

I have read the main Epics that are the original texts for the heroes of legend that are presented here. Due to this, I was initially left slightly confused with characters acting unlike how I envisaged they would from the pictures in my mind that I had created previously. I had to take a step back, cast aside my assumptions and as soon as I realised this I had no problems and in fact, the characters are the greatest asset this book has. It does add extra layers to the reading experience though if you are familiar with the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid though. An example being: Odysseus, as presented here is an ugly tall-tale weaving showman and one of his stories that left his gathered audience spellbound is about when he crossed paths with a Cyclops. Odysseus admits to friends that the story was completely made up and that he had never seen a monster in his life but it is a cool reference to the Odyssey where that exact thing happens.

For every known mythological character such as Priam, Paris or Hektor there are Gemmell's excellent creations such as Argurios,  Zidantas and Attalus. Mykene warrior Argurios is probably my favourite but I will not say too much about the character’s personalities or agenda's because that is what makes this novel stand out, however; they are deep and often fleshed out via flashback scenes which also create affinity. The Greek Gods such as Apollo and Hades are mentioned frequently with characters offering up respect, prayer, and sacrifices but I am glad Gemmell decided not to make the Gods present in a physical way like they were in the Iliad. The fact that the Gods do not walk the Earth (at least so far) makes the tale more about the plight of the humans and the individual characters emotions, actions, and destinies.

The first half is quite slow, but not unbearably so and mainly follows Halikaon and his crew from the Death Ship, Xanthos. Early on Halikaon locks eyes with a lovely lady and that is where a love triangle begins. I didn't care too much for this love story but it isn't intolerable as it is majorly feelings felt rather than actions made between those involved. It is set up so that it could get even more confusing and intriguing in Shield of Thunder. There was one other love-story which I thought was very cool and sweet, I think you will know the one I mean. Xander was one point of view perspective character that I didn't really care for, a 12-year-old who seemed more of a device of telling the action taking place from with an uncorrupted often frightened opinion. He may grow throughout the trilogy so I will not write him off yet. The second half was utterly entrancing and I raced through half this 600+ book in one day which must speak volumes for how much it gripped me. The conclusion was entirely fitting and was built up to its culmination excellently. A twist at the end was slightly predictable but that did not stop me going "fuck yeah!!!" when it happened! 

When I dropped my opinions and views on what I thought about this era and the heroes presented I was able to be swept away by Gemmell's obvious genius. I know I am a few years behind some of my friends who have read and loved this trilogy before but I can't wait to get back to the world created here. Amazing historical fiction focusing on excellent characters that also intertwines political unrest, betrayal, brutal sieges, love, and legends. I recommend this highly and if you were like me and had slept on this one for a while, it is well worth your time.
8.5/10, James Tivendale

David Gemmell turns his hand to historical fantasy with the first book in a trilogy encompassing the Trojan War. Lord of the Silver Bow is 449 pages in length and is published by Bantam Press.

Gemmell incorporates epic and historical fantasy into a set of novels set in the era of the Trojan Wars. Drawing upon Greek mythology and using his own inimitable style Gemmell draws us into the fables of Agamemnon, Aeneas (Helikaon), Andromache and Hector. This refreshing re-telling of the Greek epic follows the battle between Troy and Mycanae.

In Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow, David Gemmell takes a break from his usual heroic fantasy and turns his hand to the historical fantasy genre. This may take a few fans by surprise but any who have read Lion of Macedon will know that when the author turns his attention to real-life history he adds his own inimitable fantasy elements and creates a wonderful book that is both accurate and exciting. This is a tale of war, romance and legend featuring honour versus treachery with characters that are very human, flawed and neither good nor evil.

Gemmell has done such a terrific job in bringing the ancient Troy legend to life that he will win himself many new fans that may have previously avoided his work. It was a brave move to leave the comfort of his tried and tested heroic fantasy formula and enter the world of Greek mythology but it has turned out to be a successful one. This is a wonderfully paced, absorbing and believable story with realistic characters. If children were given this kind of fare in their curriculum then their enthusiasm for history may suddenly leap to previously unseen heights.

Lord of the Silver Bow does not feature the Greek gods to as large a degree as you might expect from a story of this type. The focus is definitely on the human, there is no black or white, the characters are multi dimensional and posses the good and bad traits found in every human (although these are heightened, this is Gemmell’s trademark, they are always slightly larger than life).

The best character is Argurios, betrayed by his own King and forced to fight against his own people. The weakest is Andromache, Gemmell has placed a strong female character, a feminist really and although this is admirable she does seem to be too modern for this tale.

Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow is very good, about the ideal length and sets up the trilogy nicely. David Gemmell is not afraid to change his successful formula and has taken on the Troy legend and turned it into an exciting, colourful and action packed tale accessible to modern times. This trilogy will awaken new interest in Greek mythology.
8.5/10, Amanda White

9/10 Amazing historical fiction focusing on excellent characters that also intertwines political unrest, betrayal, brutal sieges, love, and legends

Reviews by and Amanda White

3 positive reader review(s) for Lord of the Silver Bow

David Gemmell biography

Lord of the Silver Bow reader reviews

from UK

I am came across the book by chance and could not stop reading! I am horrified to hear that David Gemmell has died and am now searching for the next in the 'Troy' series. A powerful book with the power to draw you in, and an interesting slant on Agamemnon as a power hungry monster. A believable, enjoyable and entrancing read with the ability to take you out of the humdrum and tedious 21st century and place you in a position of influence and power in a simpler time also bedevilled by politics and megalomaniacs.
10/10 ()

from UK

A really good introduction to David Gemmell I couldn't stop reading and I had to get the whole series.
10/10 ()

from Bedford

Fantastic book. Kept me dying to read on.
10/10 ()

9.6/10 from 4 reviews

All David Gemmell Reviews