Shield of Thunder (Troy Series #2)

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Overview

The second novel in David Gemmell’s bestselling Troy trilogy. Interlacing myth and history, and high adventure, this is epic storytelling at its very best.

War is looming, and all the kings of the Great Green are gathering, each with their own dark plans of conquest and plunder.

Into this maelstrom of treachery come three travellers: Piria, a runaway priestess nursing a terrible secret; Kalliades, a warrior ...

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Shield of Thunder (Troy Series #2)

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Overview

The second novel in David Gemmell’s bestselling Troy trilogy. Interlacing myth and history, and high adventure, this is epic storytelling at its very best.

War is looming, and all the kings of the Great Green are gathering, each with their own dark plans of conquest and plunder.

Into this maelstrom of treachery come three travellers: Piria, a runaway priestess nursing a terrible secret; Kalliades, a warrior with high ideals and a legendary sword; and his close friend Banokles, who will carve his own legend in the battles to come.

Together they journey to the fabled city of Troy, where a darkness is falling that will eclipse the triumphs and personal tragedies of ordinary mortals for centuries to come.

From the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Prolific historical novelist Gemmell continues his imaginative and addictive Trojan War trilogy with this second installment (after Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow). While King Agamemnon schemes and "dreams of a war with Troy," rival monarch Priam of Troy maneuvers to secure his city's future through the marriage of his son Hektor to Princess Andromache of Thebe Under Plakos. Born with a birthmark resembling the shield of Athene—"the Shield of Thunder"—Andromache will, according to prophesy, bear the Eagle Child: a king who will never be defeated and whose city "will be eternal." Faithful to Homeric legend, there is enough intrigue, treachery and sanguinary violence to keep readers riveted as Priam publicly humiliates King Odysseus of Ithaka, who had hoped to remain neutral in the coming conflict. With Odysseus and the demigod warrior Achilles among his allies, Agamemnon attacks Troy in a war for hegemony. Seamlessly blending legend, mythology and history, Gemmell vividly recreates the world of the Greek city-states in all of their nobility and pettiness. Lively and seductive, this is historical fiction at its page-turning best. (Mar.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Bonnie Kunzel
The sequel to Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow (Del Rey, 2005) is a brilliant retelling of the Trojan legends in which the author takes considerable poetic license. His Priam is lecherous, intent on sleeping with Andromache, his son Hector's new wife. She acquiesces after learning that a battle wound has left Hector impotent. Pregnant by her true love, Helikaon (King Aeneas), to survive she must make Priam think that the child is his. Doing so is vital because Andromache is the Shield of Thunder, bearing the shield-like birthmark on her head as proof that she is Athene's chosen, destined to fulfill the prophecy, "Beneath the Shield of Thunder waits the Eagle Child, on Shadow wings, to soar above all city gates, till end of days, and fall of kings." After learning that Hekabe, Priam's wife, poisoned her sister to bring the Shield to Troy for Hector, Andromache kills the dying woman, both for revenge and to keep her from poisoning Odysseus. Priam turns against his former friend after learning of his role in the murder of Helikaon's father (to save the life of the young King Aeneas from assassins sent by his own father), thereby ensuring that Priam and Odysseus will be on opposite sides in the upcoming war. Nonstop action, blood, and gore galore-in keeping with the subject matter-more historical fiction than fantasy, this page-turner is sure to please fans of both genres. Tragically, the author died in 2006 while working on the third book.
Library Journal

Historical fiction or fantasy? This second volume in the "Troy" trilogy, which began with Lord of the Silver Bow(2005), may confuse readers a bit. At the close of the first book, Hektor appeared to have fallen in battle, leading one to believe that Gemmell was following in the footsteps of authors such as Harry Turtledove by creating an alternate history in which Troy did not fall to the Greeks. In fact, the first novel is merely a prelude to the second installment, in which Gemmell continues his dramatic retelling of the historic conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans. During a gathering for games and chariot races at Troy, the enmity between the two culminates in war, plunging the region surrounding the Great Green (Mediterranean Sea) into bloodshed and chaos from which no one will survive unscathed. Here, readers will meet the same wonderful characters from the first book (and from Greek mythology and literature): Odysseus, storyteller, warrior, and trader; Andromache, betrothed to Trojan hero Hektor; and the treacherous and wily King Priam. This is a wonderfully readable story filled with blood feuds, fierce battle scenes, remarkable courage, and devastating betrayal. It will keep the reader enthralled long after bedtime. Highly recommended for all public libraries.
—Jane Henriksen Baird

School Library Journal

Adult/High School
The events and characters in this story only loosely follow those set down in the epic Greek poems and legends. To begin with, Gemmell dispatches the likes of Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo as active participants and the Achilles here does not have a sea nymph for a mother. All of the actors are human, and they live, love, and die with great passion. The relationships are deep and complicated. Relatives kill one another, and the fates of cities are often in the hands of traitors. Gemmell brings his Troy to life with confidence and creates rich new players and plotlines that complement the classics even as he rewrites them. Hektor, for example, has been emasculated from a battle wound but he gets the chance to beat up Achilles anyway. The battles are chaotic and exciting, and the author does a good job of keeping the myriad opponents and allies straight. This second book in the series is a perfect follow-up for teens who have enjoyed Homer or Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's 300 (Dark Horse, 2007).
—Will MarstonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From the Publisher
“This is how the oldest tales should be read and known. Gemmell is a master of plot, but his triumph is creating men and women so real that their trials are agony and their triumph is glorious.”
—Conn Iggulden

“David Gemmell carries us away to a four-cornered, wholly convincing cosmos, so masterfully done that the reader thinks ‘Ah, this is what it was really like.’”
—Stephen Pressfield

“To anyone who enjoys an action-packed historical epic.”
—Joanne Harris

“The loyalties and betrayals, the love and the hate, the endless, everlasting courage of the men — and the women — of both sides are brought to life in this vivid, inspirational recreation of the Troy myth.”
—Manda Scott

From the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780593052228
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers Limited
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Series: Troy Series , #2
  • Pages: 449
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Gemmell’s first novel, Legend, was first published in 1984 and went on to become a classic. His most recent Drenai and Rigante novels are available as Corgi paperbacks; all are Sunday Times bestsellers. Widely regarded as the finest writer of heroic fantasy, David Gemmell lived in Sussex until his tragic death in July 2006.

From the Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Book One

The Gathering Storm

Chapter One

A black wind rising

Penelope, queen of Ithaka, understood the nature of dreams and the portents and omens that dogged men’s lives. So she sat on the beach, a gold-embroidered shawl around her slender shoulders, and glanced at the sky from time to time, watching for passing birds and hop- ing for a better omen. Five swallows would predict a safe journey for Odysseus, two swans good fortune; an eagle would indicate a victory—or, for Odysseus, a trading success. But the skies were clear. A light wind sprang from the north. The weather was perfect for sailing.

The old galley had been repaired, debarnacled, and recalked ready for spring, but new timbers and a coat of fresh paint could not conceal her age, which showed in every line as she lay half in and half out of the shallow water.

“Build a new ship, Ugly One,” she had told her husband countless times. “This one is old and tired and will be your downfall.” They had argued about it for years. But in this she had no power to sway him. He was not by nature a sentimental man; his affable demeanor hid a core of bronze and horn, yet she knew he would never replace the old ship he had named after her.

Penelope sighed, a gentle sadness settling over her. I am that ship, she realized. I am getting old. There is gray in my hair, and the time is swiftly passing. But more significant than the fading of her chestnut hair or the increasing lines upon her face, the monthly flows of blood that indicated youth and fecundity were becoming less frequent. Soon she would be past childbearing age, and there would be no new sons for Odysseus. The sadness deepened into sorrow as she remembered pale Laertes and the fever that had melted away his flesh.

On the beach Odysseus was striding angrily around the galley, his face red, arms gesturing, bellowing at his crewmen, who hurried to load the cargo. There was a sorrow among the men, too; she could feel it as she watched them. A few days previously their comrade Portheos, whom they called Portheos the Pig, a fat, jovial, and popular young man who had sailed with the Penelope for many summers, had died. His young wife, pregnant with their fourth child, had awoken at dawn to find Portheos dead on their pallet bed beside her.

On the Penelope two crewmen were hauling on a heavy bale of the brushwood used for packing cargo in the hold. Suddenly one lost his grip and stumbled, and the other was catapulted into the sea after the stack of wood. Odysseus swore colorfully and turned to his wife, raising his arms in a gesture of despair.

Penelope smiled, her spirits lifting as she watched him. He was always happiest when about to leave for foreign shores. Throughout the spring and summer he would roam the Great Green, buying and selling, telling his stories, meeting kings and pirates and beggars.

“I’ll miss you, lady,” he had told her the previous night as she lay in his arms, her fingers gently curling into the red-gray hair of his chest. She had made no reply. She knew when he would remember her—at each night’s fall, when the dangers of the day had passed, he would think of her and miss her a little.

“I will think of you every day,” he added. Still she said nothing. “The pain of your absence will be a constant dagger wound in my heart.”

She smiled against his chest and knew he felt the smile.

“Don’t mock me, woman,” he said fondly. “You know me too well.”

On the beach in the dawn light she watched him as he stomped across the sand to speak to Nestor, king of Pylos and her kins- man. The contrast between the two men was remarkable. Odysseus, barrel-chested, loud, and angry, attacked each day as if it were a mortal enemy. Nestor, slim, gray, and stooped, was a small point of calm in the storm of activity on the beach. Although Nestor was only ten years older than her husband, he had the demeanor of an ancient; Odysseus was like an excited child. She loved him, and her eyes pricked with unaccustomed tears for the journeys and perils he faced.

He had returned to her only a few days before, accompanied by Nestor, after a reluctant voyage to Sparta at the request of Agamemnon, king of Mykene.

“Agamemnon is intent on revenge,” old Nestor had said, sitting in the megaron late in the evening, a cup of wine comfortably full in his grip, one of his hounds at his feet. “The meeting at Sparta was a failure for him, yet he will not be diverted from his path.”

“The man is obsessed,” Odysseus said. “He summoned the kings of the west and talked of alliance and peace. Yet all the while he dreams of a war with Troy—a war he can only fight if we all join with him.”

Penelope heard the anger in his voice. “Why would any join him?” she asked. “His hatred for Troy is a private matter.”

Nestor shook his head. “There are no private matters for the Mykene king. His ego is colossal. What touches Agamemnon touches the world.” He leaned forward. “Everyone knows he is angry at being thwarted by Helikaon and the traitor Argurios.”

“The traitor Argurios, is it?” Odysseus snapped. “Interesting what makes a man a traitor, is it not? A fine warrior, a man who had faithfully served Mykene all his life, was declared outlaw and stripped of his land, possessions, and good name. Then his king tried to have him killed. Treacherously, he fought for his life and that of the woman he loved.”

Nestor nodded. “Yes, yes, kinsman. He was a fine warrior. Did you ever meet him?”

Penelope knew he was seeking to defuse Odysseus’ anger. She masked a smile. No one with any sense wanted to see Odysseus in a fury.

“Aye, he sailed with me to Troy,” Odysseus replied. “An unpleasant man. But every one of those Mykene would have been slaughtered at Priam’s palace had it not been for Argurios.”

“As it was, they were slaughtered when they returned home,” Penelope added quietly.

“It was called the Night of the Lion’s Justice,” Nestor said. “Just two escaped, and they were declared outlaw.”

“And this is the king you wish to support in a war?” asked Odysseus, swigging mightily from his wine cup. “A man who sends valiant warriors to fight his battles and then murders them when they fail?”

“I have not yet offered ships or men to Agamemnon.” The old man stared into his wine cup. Penelope knew that Nestor had not argued against a war but had kept his own counsel among the kings gathered at Sparta. “However, Agamemnon’s ambitions affect everyone,” he said at last. “With him you are either friend or foe. Which are you, Odysseus?”

“Neither. All men know I am neutral.”

“Easy to be neutral when you have secret supplies of wealth,” said Nestor. “But Pylos depends on trading its flax up into Argos and the north. Agamemnon controls the trade routes. To go against him would be ruinous.” He glanced at Odysseus, and his eyes narrowed. “So tell me, Odysseus, where are these Seven Hills that are making you rich?”

Penelope felt the tension in the room rise, and she glanced at Odysseus.

“On the edge of the world,” Odysseus replied, “and guarded by one-eyed giants.”

Had Nestor not been drinking heavily, he would have noticed the harsh edge in Odysseus’ reply. Penelope took a deep breath, preparing herself to intervene.

“I would have thought, kinsman, that you might have shared your good fortune with others of your blood rather than a foreigner,” Nestor said.

“And I would have,” Odysseus said, “save that the foreigner you speak of discovered the Seven Hills and opened up the trade route. It is not for me to share his secrets.”

“Only his gold,” Nestor snapped.

Odysseus hurled his wine cup across the room. “You insult me in my own palace?” he roared. “We had to fight for the Seven Hills against brigands and pirates and painted tribesmen. That gold was hard-won.”

The angry atmosphere lay thick in the megaron, and Penelope forced a smile. “Come, kinsmen. You sail for Troy tomorrow for the wedding feast and games. Do not let this night end with harsh words.”

The two men looked at each other. Then Nestor sighed. “Forgive me, old friend. My words were ill advised.”

“It is forgotten,” Odysseus said, gesturing at a servant to bring him another cup of wine.

Penelope heard the lie in the words and knew that Odysseus was still angry. “At least in Troy you will be able to forget Agamemnon for a while,” she said, seeking to change the subject.

“The western kings are all invited to see Hektor wed to Andromache,” Odysseus said glumly.

“But Agamemnon will not be there, surely?”

“I think he will, my love. Sly Priam will use the opportunity to bend some of the kings to his will. He will offer them gold and friendship. Agamemnon cannot afford not to go. He will be there.”

“Is he invited? After the Mykene attack on Troy?”

Odysseus grinned and imitated the pompous tones of the Mykene king. “I am saddened”—he spread his hands regretfully—“by the treacherous attack by rogue elements of the Mykene forces on our brother King Priam. The king’s justice has been meted out to the outlaws.”

“The man is a serpent,” Nestor admitted.

“Will your sons compete in the games?” Penelope asked him.

“Yes, they are both fine athletes. Antilochos will do well in the javelin, and Thrasymedes will beat any man in the archery tourney,” he added with a wink.

“There’ll be a green moon in the sky that day,” muttered Odysseus. “On my worst day I could spit an arrow farther than he could shoot one.”

Nestor laughed. “How coy you are with your wife in the room. The last time I heard you brag about your skills, you said you could fart an arrow farther.”

“That, too,” Odysseus said, reddening. Penelope was relieved to see good humor restored.

On the beach the Penelope was finally fully loaded, and the crew members were straining on ropes in the effort to get the old ship refloated. The two sons of Nestor were there, both waist-deep, their backs against the timbers of the hull, pushing her out into deeper water.

The queen of Ithaka stood and brushed pebbles from her dress of yellow linen and advanced down the beach to say farewell to her king. He stood with his first mate, Bias the Black, dark-skinned and grizzled, the son of a Nubian mother and an Ithakan sire. Beside him was a massively muscled blond sailor named Leukon, who was becoming a fistfighter of some renown. Leukon and Bias bowed as she approached, then moved off.

Penelope sighed. “And here we are again, my love, as always,” she said, “making our farewells.”

“We are like the seasons,” he replied. “Ever constant in our actions.”

Reaching out, she took his hand. “And yet this time is different, my king. You know it, too. I fear you will have hard choices to make. Do not make bullheaded decisions you will regret afterward and cannot change. Do not take these men into a war, Odysseus.”

“I have no wish for war, my love.” He smiled, and she knew he meant it, but her heart was heavy with foreboding. For all his strength, his courage, and his wisdom, the man she loved had one great weakness. He was like an old warhorse, canny and cautious, but at the touch of the whip he would ride into fire. For Odysseus that whip was pride.

He kissed both of her hands then turned and stomped down the beach and into the sea. The water was chest-high before he grabbed a rope and hauled himself up on board. Instantly the rowers took up a beat, and the old ship started to glide away. She saw him wave his arm, silhouetted against the rising sun.

She had not told him of the gulls. He would only scoff. Seagulls were stupid birds, he would say. They have no place in prophecy.

But she had dreamed of a colossal flock of gulls that blotted out the sun like a black wind rising, turning the midday sky to night.

And that wind brought death and the end of worlds.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Superb storytelling

    Helen resides inside the safe walls of Troy under the protection of her husband Menelaus. Her former lover Paris fumes helplessly outraged by his beloved being in the arms of another. Meanwhile using the rescuing of Helen as a ploy, King Agamemnon of Mycenae begins to gather armies and a thousand ships to sail across the Great Green Sea with plans to invade Ilium so he can loot and destroy the great city of Troy. King Priam of Troy prepares his city for the war by arranging a marriage between his son Hektor and Princess Andromache of Thebe as he anticipates the Greek siege that he feels he can outlast until his new marital ally arrives to help him Priam also believes the Princess will one day bear the legendary Eagle Child monarch and so having her inside the walls adds to his confidence of survival.--------------- Across the Great Green Sea men seeking to become heroes or running away from troubles merge under Agamemnon¿s banner. However, strange bedfellows arise when Priam debases King Odysseus of Ithaka, who planned to remain out of the war. Insulted Odysseus leads his mighty military joining Agamemnon¿s assault on Troy as the war ignites on the Plains of Ilium.----------------- The second Troy thriller as did its precedent (see TROY: LORD OF THE SILVER BOW) pays homage to Homer, but also to talented author David Gemmell who passed away recently. Mr. Gemmell provides a deep look at the legendary figures involved in the tale of Helen of Troy as he gets behind the scenes to ¿expose¿ those who used her to launch the thousand ships. The tale remains true to its Ancient Greek roots, yet has a modern day feel to it as political intrigue and avarice become key motivators. As with the Lord of the Silver Bow, Shield of Thunder is a superb rendition of a classic that can be read without the first story, but clearly builds on the saga of Troy as Mr. Gemmell provides a fitting tribute as a great legends teller.-------------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2013

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  • Posted August 31, 2009

    Fantasy taken from the pages of the Iliad

    David Gemmell, in his Troy series, pulls legendary figures from the dead and pumps life , strength, love and loss into their beings. His greatest character in the work isn't from the Iliad however,but from the Aenid as Aeneas, known as Prince Helikaon of Dardania. I will digress and say that for maximum enjoyment, read Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow; Troy: Shield of Thunder, and Troy:Fall of Kings. Stella Gemmell finished Fall of Kings when the fantasy world lost one of its greatest minds when David Gemmell passed away in 2006. Now back to the series. The three books tell of great men caught up in powerful men's wars. The women are beautiful as you would expect from Troy and Greece , but they are doomed for tragedy in their loves. Even Andromache, who escapes Troy with her true love ,Helikaon , is not immune from sorrow. Married to Hektor,who cannot produce children,but impregnated by Helikaon before the marriage, Andromache has to scheme to hide Helikaon child as Hektor's own. The noble Hektor accepts her confession and marries her anyway if she promises to keep his secret private. The problem is that King Priam knows his secret and he is looking an Eagle Child born of the house of Priam that will keep Troy from falling. Reluctantly ,Andromache goes to the king once a month and sleeps with him . The agreement is until she becomes pregnant, which she already is ! Helikaon himself struggles with the war because it pits him against his best friend in the world ,Odysseus. Such are the on-going struggles throughout the Troy series. I peersonally own 25 out of David Gemmell's 31 books that are in print. I plan on owning the remaining six soon. You should start with the Troy series !

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    ANOTHER MASTERPIECE

    I immediately became a David Gemmell fan after reading the first book of this series, "Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow". The unpretentious prose simply flows without a dull chapter or page. The dialogue is natural, unforced and effectively reveals character. This story is told through a myriad of heroic and not so heroic characters. Unlike many books, I didn't resent leaving the plight and struggles of one character for that of another less interesting character. I was just as interested in the canny Kalliades and the simple giant Banokles as I was of the Bard and strategist Odysseus, and the tragic and heroic Helikaon, Andromache and Hector as well as a host of other characters. It is a credit to Gemmell's writing style that we don't get confused and get the characters or the numerous sub plots mixed up. There is plenty of action as we are led to understand that the Mykene didn't simply march up to the walls of Troy and lay siege to the city. This was a world war. We see all the nations and city states of the region drawn into the conflict and the stage set for the final battle. The only disappointment associated with "Shield of Thunder" was to learn of David Gemmell's death.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    A reviewer

    The lively retelling of the Troy legend continues in this action-packed novel. The lands around the sunlit Aegean are in turmoil as petty kings strive for dominance. Hektor, Odysseus, Aeneas - here known as Helikaon - and Achilles all reappear, not as mythical figures, but as flesh-and-blood men who struggle, like anyone else, with the human condition. The women - Andromache, Kalliope, and others - hold their own in strength of body and spirit. All in all, a worthy successor to Lord of the Silver Bow.

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