I received these two books from the author in exchange for a honest review. I have decided to do a two for one review considering the fact that these books are relatively short and A Hero’s Welcome picks up directly where The Fall of the Phoenix ends. These two books are alternative history novels retelling the fall of Troy and the aftermath once told to us by the Greek poet Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. By studying Classic’s at university, I was intrigued to see how Daniel Kelly brought his own spin to the tales and they do not disappoint. The differences Daniel writes in his stories are small and subtle but they have huge ramifications to the plot and overall story. Lets take a deep dive and see what this is all about.
We all know the story of Iliad and how the Trojan prince Paris kidnapped the Spartan Queen provoking a war with Greece. Daniel Kelly starts the Fall of the Phoenix with the assumption that you have at least a basic understanding of classical history. In fact, the first chapter is Achilles standing at the Gates of Troy screaming for Hector to come and face him in battle. This is where the deviations start to take place as Hector and Achilles are not strangers but rather consider themselves brothers as they grew up and trained together as soldiers, but Achilles still has to defend the honor of his cousin Patroclus, whom Hector killed in battle. Hector does indeed fall in battle but not by Achilles sword, but be the arrow of a young Trojan boy named Diomedes. Achilles decides to take this boy with him to the Greek camps as his ward and away the story goes. Diomedes was an interesting character to read as he is young and ambitious but he carries with him a lot of baggage and pain.
Daniel Kelly’s writing style is very reader friendly but pacts a punch with the emotional swings. The best parts about these stories are knowing, at least to some degree what to except, and they Daniel will pull a very clever twist. As I sat on my couch chuckling to myself, I actually DM’d Daniel saying “I saw what you did there and I love it!” You will see a lot of those moments in these stories if you know your Greek history. We still get the Trojan Horse and the Fall of Troy but the twists that Daniel introduces sets the stage beautifully for A Hero’s Welcome when the Trojan King sends Aeneas and the Hero’s of Troy to a new world and build a new Troy for its people.
From here we move to book 2 A Hero’s Welcome, which deals with the survivors of Troy, on both sides of the battle. Here we follow several different story lines all taking us to different corners of the Aegean Sea. The two major characters I would say are Agamemnon and the Hero’s of Troy. First we follow Agamemnon as he is making his way across the Aegean following the ten year war with Troy to his homeland of Mycenean. Unbeknownst to Agamemnon, his wife has taken on another lover and when word reaches their ears, they have to prepare for the worst. We also follow Odysseus following the fall of Troy as he is searching the country side and sea for survivors. Finally we follow the Hero’s of Troy led by Aeneas as they sail to Carthage seeking shelter before they will need to continue on their quest. But the ancient city has more instore for the Hero’s then they realize and the beginnings of the Punic Wars are are about to take shape. Even though I knew how they tales of these characters would be told, Daniel once again inserts his own twists into the story and will send you on a ride you weren’t expected to take.
Usually alternative history books are hit or miss for me but with my love of classics as well as Greek and Roman history, I had a smashing time. I will say that these books will not be for everyone. There is very little in terms of fantastical events, creatures, or Greek Gods and this story is a lot more down to earth and meant to be experienced on a personal level. This includes the victories and defeats, the glory and turmoil, happiness and the pain. If you are a fan of alternative history stories, a classics buff, or looking for a good short read with familiar characters then this is the story for you. You will never know whom may be hiding in plain sight!