Sunday, October 26, 2008

Troy: Fall of Kings Review

The Troy trilogy comes to a close with Troy: Fall of Kings, and while the Age of Heroes dies, so does someone closer to the book itself. David Gemmell, the writer of the series, passed away, and his wife completed and published the novel for him. And it's for this reason that I wonder about the way the story wraps up.

The war between the kings of the West and East of the Great Green is in full force. Helikaon, devastated by the loss of his wife, seeks vengeance against his Mykene adversaries and terrorizes them at sea aboard his flagship, the Xanathos. His young foster son, Dex, is now safely in Troy under the care of Andromache as she looks after both him, and her son, the heir to the throne of Troy, Astyanax. Hektor is briefly back in Troy, and concerned with the deteriorating mental condition of his father, King Priam, but is then sent away with the Trojan Horse to hold the lines to the south of Troy. Meanwhile in the north, holding the line in Dardanos, Banokles, a reluctant General of Troy, is assisted by his sword brother Kalliades, when all he longs for is his wife and the contentment he found with her.

On the other side of the conflict, Odysseus, though reluctantly an ally of the Mykene, is becoming fast friends with the legendary Achilles, and Agamemnon, king of the Mykene, launches a daring surprise assault that enables him to begin the fabled siege of Troy.

Troy: Fall of Kings continues the strong character development the series is known for, and the complex personal and political relations there-in. Some characters mainly absent from the last novel, such as Xander and Khalkeus, make a very important return.

In brief, if you enjoyed the previous novels, you will be picking this one up to complete the series. It is an excellent telling of the fall of this once great city, and puts some nice twists on events that we thought we knew. My only real complaint is with how it all comes together and closes in the end.

Overall, while the novel is of the same high quality as it's predecessors right up until the end, in the last few chapters it gets rather anti-climactic, and I wonder if it was always planned this way or if this is the result of Gemmell's death and his wife completing the project. Not that she did a bad job or that the novel's ending is horrible, but I felt several very key characters did not have the departure that they deserved.

Regardless, the key events are well written and very memorable. The siege itself, the dual between Hektor and Achilles, the last stand of the Trojans, the naval battles, are wonderfully and powerfully presented. While the ending itself isn't the most satisfying, the journey is a wonderful ride, and I'd like to thank the late David Gemmell for writing one of the most compelling tales I've read this year. Hats off to him.

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