Lord of the Silver Bow is my first foray into David Gemmell’s work and I must admit, it was a golden read.
David Gemmell has been an inspiration for many modern fantasy authors these days, there’s even an annual Fantasy award named after him that has been established since 2009. It’s quite crazy that it took me this long to finally get to reading Gemmell’s book, especially after hearing from many authors whose books I’ve read and loved mention that Gemmell is one of their main inspiration.
“Be lucky, Xander, and be brave. You will find that bravery and luck are often bedfellows.”
Lord of the Silver Bow is the first book in Gemmell’s Troy trilogy and it’s also his final series before he passed away. From the title of the trilogy, I think it’s safe to conclude that the trilogy will eventually be concluded with the tragic Trojan War. This war is most likely one of the, if not the most important and famous event in Greek mythology; it’s definitely one that I highly enjoyed learning about back in middle school. That said, I won’t say that I’m an expert on this subject. If you want to know how the plot and characters in this book differed to the original text, I suggest checking other people’s review rather than mine.
“Fear is an aid to the warrior. It is a small fire burning. It heats the muscles, making us stronger. Panic comes when the fire is out of control, consuming all courage and pride.”
Instead, I’d like to use my review to talk about the single thing that made me enjoyed this book immensely, Gemmell’s prose. It was incredibly stunning. I didn’t know what I was getting into but I was completely swept away by his writing. His prose was beautiful, full of inspirational and philosophical phrase, and every sentence has an urgent effect of completely sucking me into the story. For example:
“Danger lies in the extreme. A man who is always cruel is evil, a man who is always compassionate will be taken advantage of. It is more a question of balance, or harmony, if you will.”
It pretty much means “anything that’s too much is never good” but with the right context, that kind of prose was incredibly impactful to me. Here’s another one, this time about love:
“Love is not about conquest. The truth is a man can only find true love when he surrenders to it. When he opens his heart to the partner of his soul and says: “Here it is! The very essence of me! It is yours to nurture or destroy.”
Sure there were a few moments where the pacing of the book that felt a bit too slow, I will even admit that some POV and sections in the middle part of the book bored me a bit. However, the last 30% of the book and the overall quality of the writing truly outweigh the flaws. There were a lot of scenes that were done exceptionally like how the main character, Helikaon—based on Prince Aeneas—attained the name Helikaon, the Golden One, and the Lord of the Silver Bow. Plus, Gemmell’s way of building up momentum in the climax sequence and the execution of it was utterly engaging and heroic. Although there wasn’t a lot of character development except for Argurios, each character’s personality and feelings were still well fleshed out and the characters’ voice felt distinctive from each other. Even though there were more or less ten POV in this book, it was pretty easy to distinguish them from each other.
Despite the number of events that have happened in this book, the story did seems like an introductory installment for the purpose of familiarizing readers with the characters more than anything else; I think of it as a prelude before the upcoming chaos in the sequels. I will immediately continue to the second book in order to re-experience the Trojan War tale through Gemmell’s retelling. Lord of the Silver Bow was a glorious start to the Troy trilogy; truly a magnificent combination of myth, history, and legend in one package. I highly recommend this book to fans of Greek Mythology, the Trojan War, or historical fiction.
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