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Troy in the context of David Andrew Gemmell’s work

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1.Troy in the context of David Andrew Gemmell’s work

British author David Andrew Gemmell had three things common for all of his works – The inspiration of characters by the real people, themes of love and redemption and elements of story inspired by the historical events. In the interview with Stan Nicholls, David Gemmell himself stated that “All my characters are real people dealing with unusual situations - that's where the drama lies.” (Nicholls, "Stan Nicholls Interview."). Though the books describe period of several years there is always something going on in every chapter and the war is just one of these things, leaving characters under the constant pressure and stress about their survival and well-being. Even a simple discussion on variations of bows can turn into content about the best archer which results in the attempt to assassinate the king. In Troy we also have a rare mixture of traits of characters from the two sources – people David Gemmell knew in his real life, such as his wife or step father, and the ones that were “alive” for centuries since Homer wrote Iliad. This leads to change of the stories for many characters together with willingness of author to either preserve them until the end or let them die even though they were supposed to survive the war. Unlike other authors, Gemmell also started with a character and continued to write the character’s story, not knowing what will happen in the next chapter or how the story will end. One of the often recycled themes is then a story of love and redemption, originating from Gemmell’s Christian belief and conviction that anyone is capable of love and that anyone can be saved. Because of that characters, such as Laodike, are able to change on spot as soon as they fall in love or when they reflect on their past selves.

Even though Troy is characterised as a historical fiction series, elements of fantasy are used rather marginally. People believe in supernatural powers same as in ancient Greece, in many different gods and powers given by them. Natural phenomena are ascribed to omnipotent beings and their whims and people accept them as their guardians, while the strongest of men are associated with them as their children. Only fantasy element used by the author is then the power of prophecies which comes in many different forms by both man and woman, one of those is Kassandra who will be talked about later, and is mostly accepted by the society as inseparable part of it. Otherwise all characters are aging and dying, none of whom is having supernatural powers themselves and there are no supernatural animals or beings appearing in the books.

2.Background for the characters

For better understanding of the actions and reactions on the actions of any character in a novel it is necessary to understand the setting of where these actions are taking place. Despite the fact that the perception of every complex character is different from others, it is important to take into account how the action is seen in the context of the book by their social environment. For purposes of this bachelor thesis, setting of the novel was divided into three separate parts. The first part of the setting deals with Time in which the author determines when the story of the book takes place and what is the duration of the book from the first action to the last one. These two parts indicate if characters have time to change (both physically and mentally) and in historical fantasy fiction time also helps with facts, which are indicated and yet were never written directly. The second part of the setting is Place and although multiple places are able to have exact same cultural setting, complete contrast is also possible and in Troy trilogy not uncommon. The most important of these three parts is Society. In the part about the society, the author deals with things such as gender roles, social class the author worked with and the social system the book is situated in.

2.1 Time for change

Trojan War in Europe is one of the best known historical conflicts without one widely accepted date. Since the ancient times, historians were unable to agree when the events happened and dated Trojan War between second half of the fourteen century before the Christian era and the first half of the twelfth century. Gemmell do not clearly state when does his books take place until he mentions several events as barely noticeable remarks in conversations of the characters. The first reference comes in the second half of the first book by Trojan prince Agathon, brother of prince Hector, when he discusses prevailing absence of his brother and states that ‘There was a great battle at a place called Kadesh’ (Gemmell, Lord of the Silver Bow, 406) and Trojan cavalry, which is under the command of prince Hector departed from the city earlier to help Hittite emperor against Egyptian pharaoh, remains near the city of Kadesh. Unlike other events mentioned in the first half of the book Battle of Kadesh is generally dated to 1274 BC. Out of ancient historians this date is closer to when Herodotus dated the war than to when it was dated by Homer and compared to modern dating it is placed fourteen years before the latest date. Besides European and Asian kings mentioned by Homer in his Iliad and Odyssey, David Gemmell also mentions that the pharaoh in Egypt is Ramesses II (Reign 1279–1213 BC) and in the third book mentions Tudhaliya IV (Reign 1237 – 1209 BC) as an emperor of Hittite Empire. Problem with mentioning both of these monarchs as simultaneous rulers of their lands is that the duration of the conflict would be at least thirty seven years, which is in contradiction with the fact that princes Astyanax (son of the King of Dardanos Helikaon and the wife of prince Hector Andromache) and Dexios (son of the queen Halysia), who were both conceived and born during the course of the first two books, are three years old at the end of the Trojan War. This shows that the author of the trilogy made several logical mistakes and did not use historical facts correctly. Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow and the major part of Troy: Shield of Thunder is taking place before the events of the war and describes events and motives leading to the conflict which means that the War in the book takes place between 1272 and 1270 BC.

Besides the logical mistakes the author also makes several subtle clues to other events such as transformation of runaway Egyptian prince Ahmose, disguised under name Gershom, to Biblical hero Moses or existence of settlement called Seven Hills, which is a reference to Seven Hills of Rome. Last event before the epilogue of the third book is an eruption of the volcano on the isle of Thera, which is also historical event, dated to the middle of second millennium BC. All of these events should have different dating than Trojan War.

Chronological or parallel chapters with several time skips (most notably between chapters XXVII and XXVIII of second book with two year difference). Inaccurate work with historical events together with subtle clues to others taking place simultaneously makes it hard to precisely determinate the duration of the story and even though the author worked with events taking place chronologically it is hard to determinate how long the story takes. Age is mentioned for several characters; both main and supporting, but only Astyanax and Dexios have more than one date mentioned. From the first scene of the first book to the epilogue of the second one, it is between a year and a two, which can be considered to be enough time for both physical and psychical development of characters.

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