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The Complete Series

Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships (Volume 1)
Age of Bronze: Sacrifice (Volume 2)

all reviews by alison

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Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships
ISBN: 1582402000
By Eric Shanower
Image Comics 2001

The rises over the cliffs of Mount Ida, revealing a scatting of small farms among carefully tended olive trees. Farmers are walking over their lands, and a young man is sleeping in the grass while his cows graze nearby. Little knowing that 10 years of tragedy and turmoil for his land and family are spread out just over the horizon, Paris dozes. Breaking the spell of this peaceful scene, a delegation from King Priam of Troy gallops into Paris' father's paddock, demanding the family's best bull as a victor's prize for the King's upcoming games. Angry over the King's unreasonable demands on his family, Paris vows to journey to Troy, compete in the games, and win the bull back as a sacrifice to the Gods. And so one of the most important stories of Greek history is set in motion, with a hot-headed teenager escaping the farm where he was brought up to look for fame and glory in the big city. Paris gets to Troy where he soon finds himself face-to-face with King Priam, forcing Paris' farmer father to reveal that the boy who is competing for the prize bull is in fact a long-lost son of the Trojan royal house. Now a prince of Troy, Paris' youthful confidence and tendency to brag aren't doing him any favors in the complex political maneuverings of the court around him. He craves action, and soon enough finds it in a visit to the house of Menelaus of Sparta, husband of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. Shanower's story moves forward relentlessly, each moment falling into place like a puzzle piece to make up the story of the rush of events that led to the Trojan War. A teacher of mine once explained that the crux of Greek tragedy lies in the audience's knowledge of the terrible fate that awaits the characters, and our feeling of being powerless to prevent their inevitable plunge into self-destruction. Shanower certainly captures that sense of men and women caught up in a web of events that is far beyond their vision or control, and it is fascinating and poignant to watch fate steer them without much foreknowledge down their ordained path, one step at a time. A Thousand Ships is a much better read than The Illiad in my opinion, a nice blend of myth and history, the familiar and the strange. The series is intended for adult and older teen readers, and thus has its fair share of sex scenes and nudity, but nothing is gratuitous or out of place within the flow of the story.

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Age of Bronze: Sacrifice
ISBN: 1582403996
By Eric Shanower
Image Comics 2004

Paris returns to Troy from his visit to Sparta in triumph, beautiful Helen at his side, expecting accolades from King Priam and his princely brothers. Instead, Paris' theft of Menelaus' bride shocks the Trojan royal house who see his exploit as a foolhardy move that will inevitably lead to a costly war with Greece. After much cajoling, King Priam is finally induced to welcome Helen and Paris, who settle into the castle as if they were born to rule. Meanwhile, Agamemnon, High King of the Greeks, has committed to war against Troy at last, agreeing to salve the wounded pride and love of his brother Menelaus. Following a prophecy, Agamemnon puts young newcomer Achilles at the head of his attacking forces, relying on this beautiful but untried warrior to guide the battleships of the Greeks into Trojan harbors. Of course Achilles has never actually seen the beaches of Troy, and therefore assumes that all is well when the Greek fleet reaches an unknown shore, leaping from the first boat to engage his javelin with the enemies waiting on the sand. Instead of mighty Troy, however, Achilles and his warriors have run aground in Mysia, home of King Telephus the son of the legendary hero Herakles. Agamemnon and his crafty advisor Odysseus manage to salvage some good will out of this embarrassing diplomatic disaster, but Achilles is temporarily disgraced and the war with Troy looks to have come to a standstill without ever really beginning. Nearly a year later, thanks to tireless recruiting, cajoling, bribery, and politicking among chiefs and petty kings, the Greek fleet is assembled once more on the shores of Aulis, and its warriors are ready to sail against Troy to recapture Helen. All is not well in Aulis, as strong winds blow ceaselessly towards land, locking the Greek ships in harbor and preventing the assembled army from leaving. Soldiers go hungry and grumble as their superiors chafe at the delay and complain to Agamemnon. The High King consults a seer for advice, and learns that he alone has the power to appease the gods and stop the wind, if he is willing to make one terrible sacrifice. The sense of a tragic doom deepens as Agamemnon wrestles with his conscience and his army's impatience, all the while knowing that he can't delay his own tragic fate at the cost of his war's success.

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