Another great read but might’ve worked better if I’m not binge reading it.
Shield of Thunder is the second book in the Troy trilogy by David Gemmell and in the case of this book, I think I’ll start my review with the parts I didn’t like. Binge reading this book immediately after the first book was quite an odd experience. Not only the book starts with the characters sailing to Troy again just like the first half of the first book, after all the time I’ve spent reading Helikaon and the other characters that I’m starting to get familiar with, the first of of the book—with the exception of Odysseus—had the narrative centered on two new main characters, Kalliades and Banokles. It took me quite a while to get used to Kalliades and Banokles and part one of the book honestly almost made me put the book to my DNF pile. I was honestly super bored with the first 120 pages and the sudden changes in the main characters reminded me a lot of The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett. Plus, there was also a non-explained time skip in which pivotal events have occurred off-screen.
“Nothing of real worth can ever be bought. Love, friendship, honour, valour, respect. All these things have to be earned.”
Luckily though, because the storytelling structure was similar to The Desert Spear, once the book entered part two and the main character started appearing again, my experience became significantly better. This of course doesn’t mean that Kalliades and Banokles were thoroughly boring. It’s just that in my opinion the first section of the book should’ve been intertwined with Helikaon, Andromache, Hector, and Achilles storyline instead of forcing the readers to read only Odysseus, Kalliades, and Banokles POV for more than 100 pages. That said, part one of the book really did help in fleshing out Kalliades and Banokles characters for the later section of the novel. Gemmell really put a lot of emphasis on friendship and love in this installment and he was able to do that because of Kalliades and Banokles friendship.
“I may be stupid, as you say, to believe in honour and friendship and loyalty without price. But these are virtues to be cherished, for without them we are no more than beasts roaming the land.”
In the matter of prose, Shield of Thunder was once again extremely well-written just like the first book. As events have started to escalate, Gemmell also portrayed the horror and tragedy that can come from war with many talents. Take a look at this passage for example:
“There is a darkness in you. In all of us, probably. Beasts we keep chained. Ordinary men have to keep the chains strong, for if we let the beast loose then society will turn upon us with fiery vengeance. Kings though…well, who is there to turn upon them? So the chains are made of straw. It is the curse of kings, Helikaon, that they can become monsters. And they invariably do.”
There were some exceptional passage and scenes like the one above. Not to mention that Hector and Achilles also have a more important role in this installment; I loved Gemmell’s retelling of Hector. However, I do wish that some of the battles didn’t happen off-screen. Gemmell is a pretty damn good author in building momentum. The emotions and tensions before a battle is going to happen was so damn real and well-written but the executions of the action scene itself were mostly pretty short or happened off screen which disappointed me a bit.
Overall, I did have a great time with Shield of Thunder despite a few issues. The set pieces have been placed and everything should be leading towards the tragic Trojan War in the next and final book of the trilogy. I will read the conclusion of the trilogy pretty soon.
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