Why the Trojan Horse Almost Certainly Wasn’t a Horse

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle explores the origins of the story of the Trojan Horse

If you had to name the famous work from classical antiquity which told the story of the Trojan Horse, which work would you name? The work of literature which offers the most in-depth account of the Trojan War, and the defeat of the Trojans by the Greek forces, is Homer’s Iliad, the epic poem about the last stages of the war. And yet the Iliad makes no mention of this crucial part of the Greeks’ victory over their enemies. Readers will look in vain within Homer’s poem for mention of the Trojan Horse.

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The Dark Side of Fantasy: David Gemmell’s Wolf in Shadow

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle salutes the master of heroic fantasy and one of his most curious novels

Like many people, I came to David Gemmell through Legend, his 1984 debut which would go on to become a classic of modern fantasy literature, and one of the most definitive novels in the subgenre of heroic fantasy. Unlike most, though, as I read my way through David Gemmell’s entire back catalogue, I found myself rating other novels far higher than Gemmell’s debut. Legend has heart, and it signalled the arrival of a distinctive new voice in fantasy, but, as Gemmell himself admitted, the writing wasn’t always perfect. He learned a lot in the years that followed, and, to my mind, the prequel he wrote nearly a decade later, The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend, is his most perfectly crafted piece of storytelling.

In between these two ‘Legend’ books, though, David Gemmell wrote a great deal: among much else, he produced Waylander, which introduced readers to the crossbow-carrying assassin who many readers rate superior to Druss the Legend; the standalone Knights of Dark Renown; and Wolf in Shadow, the first in a trilogy of novels centring on the gun-wielding Bible-reading Jon Shannow. The last of these had a curious origin in an especially dark time in Gemmell’s life, and the result was one of his most unusual and intriguing novels.

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The Best David Gemmell Novels Everyone Should Read

Selected by Dr Oliver Tearle

In the 1980s, with his debut novel Legend (1984), the British author David Gemmell revolutionised heroic fantasy. Drawing on the stories of Robert E. Howard and the novels of Michael Moorcock and J. R. R. Tolkien, Gemmell also took inspiration from his favourite novelist, the prolific writer of Westerns, Louis L’Amour.

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Book Review: David Gemmell, Rhyming Rings

In a new series of posts, Dispatches from the Secret Library, our founder-editor Dr Oliver Tearle considers a surprising title from his bookshelves

When the British fantasy author David Gemmell died in summer 2006, he had been hard at work on Fall of Kings, the final volume in his epic trilogy retelling the story of the siege of Troy from Homer’s Iliad. His widow, Stella, heroically took on the task of completing the novel, working from her late husband’s notes. When Troy: Fall of Kings (Trojan War Trilogy): 3 was published the following year, his legions of fans thought it was the last new David Gemmell title we would ever see published.

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