Troy series: Characters
The Troy trilogy by David Gemmell is a fantasy series based on the Trojan War. Its many characters are mixed: some are based on original characters from that legend, whereas others were invented by the author.
- 1 Major characters
- 2 Minor characters
- 3 Family of Priam
Helikaon is arguably the main character in the trilogy. He is based on Aeneas. According to tradition (mainly the Iliad and the Aeneid), Aeneas was the son of Aphrodite and, as king of Dardania, was one of Troy's leading allies. He survived the city's fall, and escaped to Italy, where he founded the race that would later become the Roman people.
Gemmell's Aeneas is rather different. Helikaon's father was king of Dardanos. His mother went mad, and believed she was Aphrodite. She attempted to fly off a cliff in front of the boy and plummeted to her death. This caused immense psychological scars for Helikaon. Where he had been bold and adventurous, he became pale and reserved.
Then Odysseus arrived. Helikaon's father was contemplating killing him, and so agreed to let Odysseus take him to sea, hoping he would meet his death there. However, Odysseus turned Helikaon back into the hero he had been becoming before his mother's death.
Years later, they were returning to Dardanos. Odysseus spotted an assassin amongst his crew, and realised that Helikaon's father still wanted the boy dead. He cornered the assassin, so he had no choice but to kill Helikaon's father instead.
Helikaon's father had remarried and had a second son, Diomedes. When the king died, it was expected that Helikaon would kill his stepmother and half brother. However, he spared them; in fact, he allowed the throne to pass to the young boy.
Helikaon and Odysseus founded a colony in Italy, and called it the Seven Hills. The implication is that this is Rome, which famously was built on seven hills.
Helikaon is depicted as normally kind and generous, but sometimes is ruthless and murderous, massacring his enemies even when they have surrendered and earns the nickname The Burner after burning a crew of pirates after they surrendered.
In the end, he overcomes his desire to defend Troy in an attempt to kill Agamemnon, and escapes from the fall of Troy with his lover Andromache after learning that Astyanax is his son, and journeys to the Seven Hills.
The epilogue takes place at his funeral, where it reveals that he lived a long life after becoming King of the Seven Hills.
The Andromache in the original legend has a very small part to play. She is merely the wife of Hector. However, Gemmell turns her into one of the most important characters. It could be suggested that this is because of Euripides's play Andromache, set after the Trojan war, that brings her character to a more developed and important status.
Princess Andromache. daughter of King Eetion of Thebe under Plakos, a city-state south of Troy, was sent away to be a priestess on the island of Thera. No men were allowed there, and she had a homosexual relationship with another priestess, Kalliope.
Then Andromache's sister, who was to marry Prince Hektor of Troy, was secretly murdered by Troy's queen, Hekabe (Hecuba). One of the most crucial themes of the second book in the trilogy is a prophecy concerning Andromache. Hekabe and Priam wanted the subject of this prophecy to marry Hektor. When Hekabe realised that she had been sent the wrong daughter, she killed her.
Andromache has a very strong personality. It develops over the series. She starts off fiery and hotheaded, refusing to bow to King Priam although knowing that she risks her life in doing so. As she matures, her character and temperament become steadier. She becomes wiser, no longer making rash decisions.
The deaths of Laodike and Kalliope have a major effect on her development as she feels responsible for their deaths.
She bears Helikaon a son, Astyanax. For a long time, Helikaon does not know that it is his. He finds out when the pair flee to Rome following the fall of Troy. The series ends with Andromache at Helikaon's funeral, years later.
King Odysseus of Ithaca, in both legend and series, is the one who comes up with the plan to sack Troy. However, he is a very different person in the series, whilst his character remains fairly similar.
Odysseus is known as the Ugly King. He is deeply in love with his wife Penelope, and is most well known for his fabulous storytelling. These stories are, by implication, the birthplaces for many Greek myths.
He is a merchant king, but was formerly known as the sacker of cities. He had the king of Dardanos assassinated for hiring an assassin to kill his own son, Helikaon. He and Helikaon are great friends and found a colony together in Italy that would one day become Rome.
When Priam finds out what Odysseus did to Helikaon's father, he declares him an enemy of Troy. Odysseus is forced to side with the city's attackers, although he loathes Agamemnon and his fellow kings.
Eventually, he abandons the siege in disgust when Agamemnon has another allied king, Achilles, murdered by treachery. Odysseus is last seen sailing away before a series of tsunamis unleashed by the volcanic eruption of Thera. He is not heard from again, and Helikaon assumes he is dead since his ship couldn't have survived the onslaught, but his eventual fate is never revealed. At the end of the book, Andromache, at Helikaon's funeral, mentions Odysseus' son Telemachus and Penelope have been waiting for his return ever since, maybe a hint at the character's long journey home in Homer's Odyssey.
Agamemnon is the Greeks' commanding general. In the trilogy, he is the villain. He is sometimes referred to metaphorically as "the Lion", a title apparently used by the kings of Mycenae, or the "Battle King".
He is the crafty, power-hungry ruler of the Mykene empire. He needs more wealth to finance it, and so decides to get hold of the Trojan treasury. He at first does not directly attack the city: he finances pirate ships to attack it. Then he attempts to break into the city without letting the blame fall on him.
However, when Helen refuses to return to Agamemnon's brother Menelaus, Agamemnon uses this as an excuse to declare war on the city.
During the war, he arranges the deaths of Achilles and Hektor in a duel. This loses him the trust of many of his officers.
He finally captures Troy, only to find out that the treasury is depleted. Then the Hittite emperor arrives and expels him from the city.
Agamemnon pursues Helikaon to Thera, believing him to have smuggled the treasure out of Troy. Once there, he is caught up in its eruption and is killed.
Priam is the king of Troy. He was traditionally killed by Achilles' vengeful son.
In Gemmell's series, he is ruthless, heartless, cunning and crafty.
Priam is ageing. He once had many sons, but by the start of the trilogy they have been whittled down to six. He is known to have had at least five killed himself. He cares for none of these sons except Hektor. He humiliates them all, constantly comparing them to Hektor. He likes to play jokes on them: for example, he makes his massively fat son, Antiphones, who could not be borne by any horse, Master of the Horse. He is despised by them.
Priam is very lustful. Although he has always loved his wife Hekabe, he has had children by many other women. Throughout the trilogy, he lusts for the beautiful Andromache. He believes that she will bear him a son who will ensure the eternity of Troy, and when she apparently bears him a son, Astyanax, he is sure that the boy is Troy's last hope. It appears that this ambiguous prophecy is actually a reference to Rome, the fathers of whom Astyanax will one day rule. Priam is not his father at all; Helikaon is.
Through Fall of Kings, Priam steadily goes senile. As Troy falls, he tries to take Astyanax. Kalliades rescues the boy from the top of the tallest building in the city. Priam and his son Polites remain until Greek soldiers corner them. Polites is beheaded as Priam jumps to his death.
Hektor is Priam's favourite son. He is renowned as a great warrior and general, and one of the finest soldiers ever. However, he hates killing, despite being so good at it. He is one of the most purely good characters in the series.
Hektor loves his wife Andromache. He has been rendered impotent after an injury in a fight, and so agrees to bring up as his own her son by Helikaon. For most of the trilogy, they are the only two to know who the boy's real father is.
Priam dotes upon his son, seeing him as the only man of worth among his many children. He is Priam's heir, and loved by the people.
Hektor commands the Trojan Horse, Troy's mighty cavalry. He is greatly loved by the soldiers under his command and knows all of their names and those of their families by heart. At the start of the trilogy, Hektor is missing after fighting the Battle of Kadesh. However, at the end of the first book he returns in time to save the city from the Mykene attackers. The author uses the term "Trojan Horse" as wordplay: he insinuates that the term was literal and referring to the elite cavalry corps of Troy, rather than the wooden hollow horse mentioned in legend.
Hektor beats Achilles in a fistfight at his marriage celebrations. When he later kills his second in command, Patroklos, Achilles challenges Hektor to a duel.
In the duel, Agamemnon makes sure that Hektor gets a poisoned blade. This mortally wounds Achilles, and Hektor is set upon for cheating. Enraged by the conspiracy, Hektor and Achilles die side by side, fighting off Agamemnon's bodyguard.
Banokles is a Mykene turncoat warrior. He is introduced to the story along with his best friend Kalliades. They both fought together in the attack of Troy featured in the first book where they fought their old friend Argurios.
Banokles becomes a general at the end of the war for Thraki. He dislikes his position yet his Thrakian troops save the Trojan Horse and Rhesos's son Periklos, and kill Peleus.
Banokles marries a Trojan whore, Big Red, whom he loves dearly. However, she is murdered by a baker who is in love with her when she refuses to leave Banokles. This causes him to throw himself into his duties as a general.
When Troy is falling, he makes sure that his friend Kalliades escapes before fighting beside the last Trojans. He laughs at the idea that, as Troy's most senior general now that Priam is dead and his heir, Astyanax, has left the city, Banokles is, in fact, Troy's last king.
As the last man standing fighting for Troy he stands on a staircase and fights the advancing troops. After taking nearly twenty of the Mykene men with him he meets Ajax Skull-splitter. They fight but Banokles eventually loses and is knocked wounded to the ground. The Mykene king Agamemnon orders Ajax to kill him, but he refuses, telling the king to do it himself. Agamemnon stabs Banokles in the chest.
When he was a child, Kalliades's village was attacked. As he hid in a flax field, his sister was raped and murdered nearby. This scarred him for a long time afterwards.
Kalliades is Banokles's "sword brother" and best friend. He starts off as a warrior under the command of Kolanos and is sent to raid Troy and kill Priam with the elite of the Mykene army, but they are thwarted by Argurios and Helikaon. Priam releases them on the condition that they kill Kolanos painfully. When they returned to Mykene, Agamemnon ordered that all these soldiers would be killed on what he called the "Night of the Lion's Justice". Banokles saves Kalliades's life and they run away and meet some pirates who have captured and raped Kalliope, under the name of Piria, who then kills the captain. Kalliades saves her from being killed by the pirates. After killing the new pirate leader in a duel, Kalliades, Banokles and Kalliope gain passage with Odysseus who takes them to Troy in time for the wedding games of Hektor and Andromache in which Kalliades participates as a sprinter in the name of Ithaka.
After the conclusion of the wedding games, Kalliades and Banokles go to reunite Kalliope with her lover, Andromache. When they arrive, Mykene bandits are attacking Andromache. Together they manage to save her but Kalliope dies in the fight. Kalliades, who has fallen in love with her, is stricken with terrible grief. He becomes aloof from Banokles.
As they saved his wife, Hektor makes Kalliades and Banokles part of the Trojan Horse, where Kalliades becomes an officer. They are then sent to Thraki and get embroiled in the war to defend it from the Mykene. After it becomes clear they have lost, the Trojan Horse retreats to Troy and Kalliades defends a pass to help secure their retreat. He is wounded, but the return of Banokles with 50 men saves him. Kalliades at last realises that all his life he has had a subconscious death wish. This experience makes him finally forget the past and live life properly.
They then retreat to the shore where they find Hektor and the Trojan Horse fighting Peleus and his armies. Banokles's charge wins the battle and results in the death of Peleus. Kalliades and Banokles stay with the Thrakians as the rest of the Trojan Horse departs.
They are given the task of stopping the Mykene from capturing the fortress of Dardanos and thus surrounding Troy. They return to Troy when they realise that it is in danger, and help defend it from the Mykene landed at the Bay of Herakles. Kalliades befriends a soldier called Boros, who has saved his life. However, Boros turns out to be an enemy spy and kinsman to Alektruon. Thanks to him, at last the siege is broken and he fights to protect Priam's palace. He saves Astayanx from Priam, who has now completely lost his senses. He then helps Helikaeon and Andromache escape by taking Astyanax down the wall on his back, with the intention of returning and dying in Troy. However, Banokles cuts the rope he used to climb down from the palace, meaning that Kalliades cannot get back. He is grateful; his honour was forcing him to go back, but now he no longer wants to die he thanks his friend for this last gift.
After leaving Troy, Kalliades gains passage with Odysseus when they meet on Thera. However, the boat is apparently sunk by Thera's eruption hours later. Since Odysseus presumably survived, Kalliades must have as well. Since Kalliades had just been saved, only an unambiguous death could mean that he dies. Since the Odyssey holds that Odysseus was the sole survivor, the story is either changed as in many cases, or Kalliades was separated from the king.
Kalliope, a runaway princess from Thera, is also the daughter of King Peleus of Thessaly and sister of the mighty Achilles. She is only in 'Shield of Thunder', the second book in the series.
In 'Shield of Thunder', the reader meets her when she is under the alias of Piria. She has run away from the Island of Thera, following prediction by a seer that tells her that she must save the life of Andromache, her one-time lover (Kalliope is homosexual). However, pirates capture and rape her. The pirates' passengers are the Mykene exiled warriors, Banokles and Kalliades. Piria kills the pirate captain, but Kalliades saves her from the vengeful crew. The pair, along with Banokles, flee from the pirates, and are picked up by Odysseus. Kalliades has cut her hair following her rape. Odysseus knows who Kalliope really is, but does not let on as he knows that if she is caught, she will be executed for running away from Thera.
Kalliope slowly comes to trust her two companions, and so, when Odysseus has brought them to Troy, allows them to accompany her to Hektor's farm to find Andromache. She is about to sacrifice some blood under the moonlight to Artemis when Kalliades stands in her place.
They arrive as Mykene bandits attack Andromache. They save her life, but Kalliope is hit by an arrow and killed.
Argurios is a legendary Mykene warrior. Initially introduced when he travels on Helikaon's ship the Xanthos to Troy as a spy for the Mykene king Agamemnon to gather information about the city. During the journey to Troy he is walking with Helikaon when they are attacked by the Mykene commander Kolanos. Argurios states that he must obey the law of the road and defends Helikaon against the forces of his own country and is declared an outcast by Kolanos.
In Troy he is attacked by assassins, surviving but is badly wounded by the attack. He meets Laodike, daughter of king Priam, and falls in love with her. Agathon, son of Priam, conspires with the Mykene commander Kolanos in a plot to overthrow Troy. They attack the palace and Argurios and Helikaon stand side by side defending a narrow staircase in the palace. He is severely wounded after being shot with an arrow by Kolanos, a move which is deemed cowardly, especially by the Mykene, and is taken to one of the palaces rooms by the surviving troops. There he and the wounded Laodike eventually die from their wounds lying next to each other.
In the second and third books the people of Troy, the two former Mykene warriors, Kalliades and Banokles, and even some of the Mykene themselves, regard him as a hero.
Gershom enters as a survivor of an over-burdened ship wrecked at sea in a storm. Clinging to driftwood he is found and taken on board the Xanthos by Helikaon and given a purpose and hope. As his story unravels he is found to be an exiled Egyptian prince, with a price on his head. Befriending Helikaon and the young healer-to-be, Xander, he becomes a steadfast, straightforward thinking character.
Kassandra has other plans for him though. He avoids the seer as she moves to push him into unknown areas of his mind, coaxing him by predicting minor acts in the future. One night, while the Xanthos is beached, she tells Helikaon that she will be with Gershom, yet disappears, leaving Gershom to find her in an opium smoke filled cave.
Upon having the same visions of the destruction of Troy as Kassandra, his past is unveiled to him: he was taken from his real parents to replace a stillborn pharaoh's son, and should actually have been raised a slave, not in the luxury of the palace. He leaves the crew, departing for his homeland with his future in mind.
In the final chapters of Fall of Kings we hear of Gershom requesting the Pharaoh to 'let my people go' under his old name, Ahmose. When the volcano on Thera erupts, it drives thousands of frogs, locusts, flies and mosquitoes into Egypt. It hides the sun for three days, and with the pollution brings the death of many which, according to Ahmose's aide Yeshua the people attributed to him.
In short, Gershom becomes the Biblical hero Moses in a subtle series of clues.
A young boy, he enlists into the crew of the Xanthos in light of his father's death at sea under Helikaon. He is first taught to become a sailor; however, when he reaches Troy, he soon becomes one of their many healers of the House of the Serpents. In the first novel, he befriends Argurios and helps him recover from his grievous wounds. In the final book he is injured on the battlefield outside the lower town and is captured by the Greek forces. He is saved by Odysseus, who knows him and protects him. He continues to tend to the wounded enemies of Troy, but when the city is finally breached he escapes and makes his way to the remaining few hundred Trojan troops holed up in the palace.
Penelope is Odysseus's wife, whose first son died years previously. When she first married Odysseus, she disliked him, but came to love him after tending to him when he fell badly sick. In the final book, she is captured and tormented by pirates, until her husband and a band of allies rescues her. She tells Odysseus that, though she is getting old, she is pregnant. At the end of the trilogy, she and her young son are awaiting Odysseus's return after he disappeared following the eruption of Thera.
Bias is a half-African crew member on Odysseus's Bloodhawk, and is close to the Ugly King. He is described as a skilled knife fighter and javelin thrower, though at Hektor's wedding games, he claims that because he is getting old, he cannot throw a javelin as far as he used to. He loses an arm in a battle in Cyprus against Helikaon's crew. When pirates overrun Ithaka, Bias goes into hiding, but continues to defend the island, picking off drunks and stragglers who stray too far from the pirates main camp.
He is a general in the Thessalian army until his father Peleus is killed by Banokles and his troops. Achilles then becomes king and goes with Agamemnon to attack Troy. Fearsome in battle, he and his Myrmidons are a major factor in the attacking forces winning the battle for the strategically important Scamander plain. He eventually calls Hektor out for a duel, after he kills Patroklus, and the pair meet in front of the walls of Troy. In the duel, Agamemnon makes sure that Hektor gets a poisoned blade. This mortally wounds Achilles, and Hektor is set upon for cheating. Hektor and Achilles die side by side, fighting off the attackers.
Agamemnon puts his brother Menelaus on the throne of client kingdom Sparta. Unlike his brother he doesn't have blood lust and likes to raise cattle. They use Troy's refusal to send him Helen as his bride as a pretext for invasion. Menelaus is one of the kings to die on Thera and was broken to find his sister dead.
An aging prostitute, who is approached by a drunken Banokles who declares her the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Eventually he tracks her down and asks her to marry him, to which she reluctantly agrees. She is murdered by one of her former clients, who couldn't bear to live without her, while Banokles was away fighting.
A Mykene general, he is the leader of the forces that attack Troy in the first book. He eventually kills Argurios with a bow and arrow. When their attack fails, King Priam allows the forces of the Mykene to return home - as long as they make sure Kolanos does not. He is then tortured and killed by his former troops, including Kalliades and Banokles, on their journey home.
Khalkeus is an antisocial inventor who appears frequently throughout the books. He is nicknamed by some as "the madman from Miletos" for his ideas, on ways in which to improve various work such as ship building. He is trusted by Helikaon, who funds his work. Khalkeus builds him the Xanthos. He later discovers a new kind of metal with which to make swords that are stronger than normal bronze (iron). After Troy is invaded he can no longer get funds from Helikaon, so he turns to the Mykene king Agamemnon, who gives him gold so long as he gets the finished work. After finally managing to uncover the secret to making iron swords, he rushes to take the first of its kind to Agamemnon. Arriving at the Scaean Gate, he orders several Mykene soldiers to take him to Agamemnon. They say no and begin to leave. He calls them idiots, causing one to turn back and stab Khalkeus in the chest. He lies outside the walls of Troy and dies with his invention in his hands. However, Kassandra suggests that the Hittites will find him, and work out how to copy his methods, so his work will not be lost.
Family of Priam
Priam, Andromache and Hektor are the most important members of the Trojan royal family. However, many of its members are notable characters, particularly Priam's wife, Queen Hekabe. His numerous miscellaneous sons are also listed here:
Agathon betrays the city to the Mykene in the first book, but the attempt is thwarted and he dies. In the original myths, he is Priam's youngest son.
In the first book Antiphones is portrayed as greedy and gluttonous and is involved in a plot to bring down Priam. He quickly regrets his actions after hearing that Agathon intends to kill all of the royal family and attempts to inform Helikaon but is attacked by some of Agathon's Thrakian mercenaries. He manages to kill all three of his would be assassins but is heavily wounded. He then reports his brother Agathon's plot and is thus able to save the city. After surviving his wound, he works hard to lose his vast bulk and becomes a notable general in the Trojan War. However, he is wounded during the fight on the Scamander plain after leading a charge into the enemy to allow his men to escape. Odysseus finds him and they talk until Antiphones dies from his wound.
Known as Dios, Deiphobos is initially rude and standoffish to Andromache and Argurios. But when Agathon attacks the Palace he fights alongside Argurios and Helikaon. He is the only one of Priam's sons to fight in defence of the palace. Over The Shield of Thunder he becomes good friends with Andromache. In Fall of Kings, he is assassinated by Mykene agents when they mistake him for Helikaon.
Priam's wife is ruthless and cruel, and much loved by Priam. When Andromache finds out about her many crimes, including the murder of Andromache's sister Paleste and that she plans to murder Odysseus and Antiphones, she poisons her.
Kassandra is a good friend of Andromache. She is a fey child, a seeress, although no one ever believes her prophecies, much like the historical Cassandra, who was cursed with foresight. She knows the fate of Troy long before it happens and the eruption of Thera. Also she predicts that Gershom/Prince Ahmose is destined to return to Egypt as Moses. In Troy: Fall of Kings, she is sent to Thera, where she dies in the eruption.
Paris is scholarly, and a coward. He is deeply attached to his brother Dios, and is very upset when he is assassinated and feels guilt over his death because Paris froze when Dios was attacked. He falls in love with Helen of Sparta, and their marriage is the pretext for starting the Trojan War. When the first attackers land near Troy, Paris and Helen are in the fort they land by. Paris charges at Achilles and attempts to kill him but is easily defeated. Helen then jumps to her death along with her Children.
Polites is ordered by his father Priam to arrange Hektor and Andromaches' marriage celebrations. Then he organises the games that are held at Troy. Upon his success at these daunting tasks, he is put in charge of organising the defence of the city. He is the last of Priam's sons, following Hektor's death. He dies the day after Troy is breached, and is beheaded whilst Priam is leaping to his death.