If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book which is the first in a trilogy by David Gemmell. It is set in Ancient Greece and Asia Minor (now Turkey) during the build up to The Trojan War. The story follows the fortunes of a young boy called Xander who, on his first time aboard a boat, gets caught up in the most dramatic story of Ancient times.
Through Xander’s eyes we can marvel at the golden city of Troy and are introduced to our main characters: Helikaon, Argurios and the Lady Andromache. All three are paragons of virtue, courage and honour, but they have their faults and weaknesses, being all the more likeable for it.
In this book, Xander is very naïve, tossed on the currents of life as well as literally tossed on the currents of the sea. He doesn’t play a huge role in the rest of the trilogy but he bookends the tale, again taking a lead role in the final chapters of Fall of Kings and, in his small way, he shows more courage and heroism than most of the leading characters.
These books are my favourites of anything I have ever read. This first one is now lovingly bandaged with sellotape as I’ve read it so often. I adore the settings and the drama but what draws me back again and again is the characterisation and the emotion which comes as a result. Still, I have to read chapter thirty-five through a blur of tears.
Through Gemmell’s writing, within the space of a couple of lines, I have felt a strong empathy with a murderous pirate, a greedy merchant and a deadly assassin as well as the more likeable characters.
One of my favourite characters is Odysseus. In traditional Greek tales he is a handsome God-like hero. This Odysseus is overweight and extremely ugly. He is, however, a wonderful story-teller and through his tales we learn how he created his own myth as well as providing much of the supernatural mythology of Ancient Greece.
Owing to its huge cast, I found myself getting a bit confused the first time I read this, particularly in the first few chapters. If that happens to you, please persevere, then hopefully you’ll come to love this wonderful series as much as me.
A no brainer – five bites. Or am I allowed to give it six?