Shield of Thunder  - David Gemmell Book I of this series started off slow but really picked up speed as it reached its conclusion, so I started this book really excited to see where Gemmell was going with this tale. Unfortunately, Shield of Thunder really failed to deliver.

As soon as you begin this book, you notice that Gemmell has skipped forward in time. No big deal really except for one important fact: a tragic event has occurred, which has left our main character, Helikaon, dead or dying. I suppose the author might have done this to build suspense or tension, but it did not work and leaves you more annoyed than anything. So with our former main character in limbo, we are introduced to a brand new character and two, minor characters from book one. Admittedly, Piria has a history with our main heroine, Andromache, but Kalliades and Banokles are now stars of the show.

I will give credit to Gemmell: he makes these three characters interesting by throwing them together in tragic fashion then revealing their backstory. Unfortunately, the sea voyage to Troy with Odysseus(IF it sounds like deja vu after reading Book I I understand completely) just feels like filler material, and the hopeless love of Kalliades for Piria really doesn't ring true. In fact, if not for the story of Andromache in Troy itself, the book would have floundered right here, but once again Troy comes to the rescue. The tale of Hektor and Andromache's wedding games with Agamemnon and Priam scheming against one another keeps you turning the pages, and our old hero, Helikaon, returns. When the games are over and the Trojan War is about to begin, I was again anticipating great things. I was even looking forward to the end of Piria, Banokles and Kalliades quest to find Andromache.

Alas, Gemmell had just teased me.

First, the epic quest to reunite the two lovers -Andromache and Piria - just . . . fizzles out. I won't explain how, but Piria and Andromache's story just ends. No other way to say it. Boom it is gone, and you sit there and ask yourself why Gemmell spent all this time building this up to just end it so suddenly.

Second, Gemmell skips forward in time again. No buildup in the Trojan War; it is just on going. We hear about all these huge battles that have taken place. Characters talk about Hektor's victories and Odysseus' strategic brilliance, but what we get to actually read about is Kalliades and Banokles struggles. And, while I did like both characters, Kalliades dealing with his inability to love anyone isn't really why I read a book about the Trojan War. Oh, Helikaon, Andromache, Priam and the rest make brief appearances but not enough to really matter.

Third, Gemmell has this annoying habit of giving you a character, feeding you a backstory then never returning to him. The Egyptian, Gershom, is a prime example. Book one starts off with him getting lots of page time; we get a detailed backstory with some plot issues twisting around. Then in Shield of Thunder Gershom gets no love. Oh, he makes some appearances, but nothing related to his backstory. And he isn't the only character treated this way by the author. It is beyond irritating.

So while this book is an okay read, I can't say I really liked it nor can I recommend it to anyone wanting to read an exciting epic about the Trojan War. Gemmell keeps this story afloat but just barely. I'm starting the last book, and I really hope it delivers.