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Arrow Through the Axes

Arrow Through the Axes - Patrick Bowman Book 3 picks up where Book 2 left off. Our young hero Alexi is now somewhere between 17 and 19 years old and he has done a lot of learning and growing in Books 1 & 2. With the death of an enemy in Book 2, he finds himself escaping the island of the sacred cattle with Lopex and crew. Only, there is this big thundercloud chasing them, raining down lightning bolts. Pretty soon, the ship is torn apart. Alexi finds himself rescued by the young woman who warned him about the cattle on the island. His wounds are tended and eventually he leaves to go in search of his (hopefully) alive sister. His travels take him on many adventures through Greek lands. On the way, he befriends Orestes and meets Agamemnon and the infamous Helen. Later, he meets Telemachus (Tel to his friends) and finds himself in the middle of the ribald wooing of Lopex’s wife (everyone assumes Lopex is dead since he has been gone for so many years).

If you checked out my reviews of Books 1 & 2, then you know I have quite enjoyed this series. While Book 3 was still enjoyable, I felt that Alexi’s character backslid in age and intelligence a bit. Perhaps this was done on purpose to keep Book 3 suitable for a certain age of readers? I am not sure. I did enjoy Alexi’s growth in Books 1 & 2. He lived through the siege of Troy, most of it without parents. Lived through the sacking of Troy and was made a slave. He has been a slave for 2 books and 3-5 years of sailing around on adventures with rough men. So by Book 3, I would think that he would be a little more jaded about a lone woman on a sacred island populated by sacred cattle. Every evening, she makes him a nice tea, and after consuming it, he grows very weak. This goes on for just over a month. Alexi’s father was a healer and Alexi himself has been tending sailors with poultices and concoctions and stitches for years. And yet, he doesn’t suspect this tea. Since this event happens early in the book, I don’t mind using it as an example, but it is not the last example of Alexi’s sudden dimwittedness.

Still, if I set that aside and pretend that Alexi is 12 or 14 again, then the story is quite fun. Two adventures really stand out for me. He meets Orestes and at the court of Agamemnon, he meets Helen. Agamemnon is a little crazy and very possessive of Helen. This spells trouble for even young, innocent Alexi. Helen gets a chance to tell her side of the love story between her and Paris, and that was a nice touch. The second scene that I thoroughly enjoyed was at the very end. I can’t say too much about it, but the title and the cover will click once you get there. It was intense and a very good wrap up to this trilogy (though part of hopes that Bowman goes on to write the further adventures of Alexi, the Adult).

Telemachus was an odd character. His father went off to participate in the siege and sacking of Troy, so the lad grew up with out a father. He is a bit socially inept, yet friendly. I did find it a weak plot point to say that his social ineptness was due to not being raised by a man, so he doesn’t know how to behave as a man. Yet he is traveling with a male companion as he searches for his father, interacting with lots of men. Seems to be plenty of men in this story line, and around his mom’s house (the steward, the hopeful suitors, the slaves, etc.). Later, we see Telemachus become more ‘manly’ which seems to be mostly the character trait of decisiveness (I guess Tel never saw his mom be decisive).

Which points to the women of the story. There are a few and they have small roles. And they are mostly cast in the roles of love interest, slave, wife. We do have one who helps Alexi escape at one point and it would have been nice to see a more balanced arrangement of characters and roles. But this might have been difficult to do and stay mostly true to the ancient original storyline. So I won’t harp on the point too much.

Over all, this has been a great trilogy and a fun retelling of this ancient tale. While I missed having Lopex in the bulk of this story line, I did find Alexi’s adventures through Greece as he searches for his sister to be amusing. Also, it was very interesting to see through Alexi’s eyes how the lengthy siege against Troy took its toll on the Grecian lands, and not just on Troy. The lengthy war was not good for the masses and few people profited from it. The side jaunt over to Agamemnon’s court was quite chilling and it was a good way to show how one of the main provocateurs of the war fared.

Narration: One again, Gerard Doyle is a great voice for Alexi. He kept Alexi’s voice young and innocent, which suited his actions and words for this book. His sad Helen voice was also great.