This is my first stab at doing book reviews beyond just a couple of sentences, so please bare with me! I’ll try not to make most of my review into just a summary of the plot. What I will try to do is give my best impressions of the book, and whether I think it was worth my time to read.
I finally finished this book. It took a month, which is unusual for me. It wasn’t the length of the book, but I was distracted by other things. Mostly different television shows. But maybe that says something about the book itself.
I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, but there was never anything that made me not want to put it down.
Anyway, I will give you the general premise. The book is the story of the early career of Parmenion, a half Spartan soldier who eventually becomes one of the greatest generals of the time. He eventually serves under King Philip of Macedon, and in a later book, under Philip’s son, Alexander the Great.
I initially picked up this book while reading one of the threads on Goodreads. I enjoyed David Gemmell’s Troy series and I like Alexander the Great as an historical figure, so I thought this book would be right up my alley. And it was, but it really didn’t stay that way.
I am not much of a military fantasy person, I tend to prefer political intrigue over detailed descriptions of battles and military strategy. (I do realize this is a story about a general). Obviously, some battles and military talk in a fantasy novel is usually a given, but some stories focus more on that than others. There was some political intrigue going on, namely the efforts to liberate Thebes. This happens around the middle of the book, and to me it seemed to drag on for quite awhile.
Character wise, I really liked Parmenion, and I somewhat identified with his struggles, but at times I wanted to just tell him to get over it and move on. I think it would have added to his character more if we had gotten at least a glimpse of his earlier childhood, before his training as a soldier. There was a bit of romance in the book as well, which I can take or leave, but it was brief and seemed to be added in just to break up the military/battles. There’s definitely magic and mysticism thrown in, which was interesting, but played a bigger part in the story than I would have thought. It almost seemed out of place for the world the author was creating.
All in all, if you liked David Gemmell’s previous works, you should definitely give this one a try. However, I prefer his Troy series (Lord of the Silver Bow, Shield of Thunder, and Fall of Kings). Its been awhile since I’ve read it, but it I remember the Troy series feeling bit more sprawling and epic. It focused on the story of the Fall of Troy, more from the point of view of Andromeche and others.