As Robert Harris is taking his sweet time with his Cicero trilogy, I have been on the lookout for a new historical fiction series to sink my teeth into. I can’t remember exactly how Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell ended up on my kindle, but after skipping over it repeatedly I finally succumbed to the boredom and took the plunge. Initially it showed promise. I had hoped it would offer me another glimpse into the ancient world that Robert Harris had shown me. However, the book reveals itself to be a rather disappointing drama. In the end it is nothing more than an armoured soap opera.
The story revolves around Helikaon, a prominent trader and the Prince of Dardania, and Andromache, a Princess ‘promised’ to Hektor of Troy. Hektor rides off to war and is presumed lost, and I can’t really be bothered outlining the story further. Anyone who has ever seen a B movie or read a fairy tale should be able to surmise the rest. From the moment you meet Helikaon and Andromache you realize what is going to happen, and it is all downhill from there. The fact that you meet Helikaon and Andromache at the very beginning of the story should tell you how much I enjoyed this book.
If you have not already surmised as much, I have quite a lot of problems with this book. If I wasn’t dammed determined to get my money’s worth, I wouldn’t have bothered to finish it at all. The overarching storyline is the same thing we have all encountered time and again. Noble hero falls in love with his best friends girl and all that. But Gemmell also fails to make up for the lack of substance in the plot with substance in any other element of the story. The fight scenes are few and far between. They are also over dramatized and under described; the ‘odds’ are built up, the motivation of all the antagonists are well delved into, often delved into to an unnecessary length. But the “actual fight” is woefully inadequate, with many parts of the action scenes missing altogether. The characters also lack depth, and many seem to be there only to serve as a function of the of the story. The character of Odysseus is a prime example. If you are going to include such a legendary mythical figure, why not make him more than a shadow of your archetypical eccentric bard? All in all a thoroughly disappointing book, and one that deserves my lowest ever rating. This is one of those rare occasions when I regret having bought a book on my kindle. I sorely wish I had something to hurl in disgust.
Title: Lord of the Silver Bow
Author: David Gemmell
Pages: 496 (Paperback)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Josh’s Rating: 0.5/5
Amazon Link: Lord of the Silver Bow