Age Of Bronze: Betrayal (Part One) by Eric Shanower

reissued in full color throughout, with the colors exquisitely done by John Dallaire.

I remember the first time I read the first book in this series. Having been a bit of a Greek mythology buff in my youth, I was completely blown away by how historically accurate Eric Shanower was in his depiction of the stirrings of the Trojan War, but also by how human he made the historical figures, often eschewing tales of gods and “powers” for more prosaic explanations. I never managed to snag a copy of Sacrifice, but when I was offered the chance to review Betrayal, I absolutely leapt at it. Besides, it’s not like I don’t know most of what happened to Iphigenia anyway — tho that said, I’d still love to read Mr Shanower’s interpretation of it, which I’m sure will be as carefully chosen as the rest of his work so far.

This third book in the series takes place after the events at Aulis, with the Achaean army well underway but still a fractious beast. The Achaeans have been trying to wage war against Troy for over three years now, but keep stabbing themselves in the foot. Now that they’ve collected all the men they need and finally understand where Troy is on a map and have found prevailing winds, they’re ready to either treat with or capture some of Troy’s neighbors in order to increase their strategic foothold in the area.

It’s on the island of Tenedos that things start to fall apart for the Achaeans again, as Achilles kills someone he shouldn’t and Philoktetes gets bitten by a serpent. Paris launches a failed assassination attempt, Achilles gets petty, and finally Menelaus and Odysseus get Agamemnon to agree to let them meet with the Trojans in diplomacy one final time, asking for the return of Menelaus’ wife, son and other sundry properties, stolen by Paris all those years ago. But the summit doesn’t go as well for Menelaus as planned, as Helen searches her soul and decides that yes, actually, she’d rather stay with Paris. He might be a selfish shithead when it comes to other people, but he’s devoted to her and her children. He’s also rich and good in ned. There are lots of worse reasons to stay with a dude, ijs.

Ofc, Agamemnon was never going to not sack Troy regardless of the result of the summit, and Menelaus isn’t going to ever be a grownup and let Helen go, despite her telling him — rather poignantly, I thought — that his quarrel is not with her but with the gods who turned her heart away from him. Despite another attempt by certain Trojans to revoke the laws of hospitality, the Achaeans manage to make it back to their ships and prepare for war. And that’s where this book ends, on the precipice of the main… I don’t want to say battle, so perhaps engagement? that would extend over seven more drawn-out years.

As its title implies, Betrayal (Part One) hinges on the treachery of many. Odysseus, Paris and Helen are only three of the more well-known characters shown to be kinda bullshit in the way they do others dirty. For all that, their motivations are varied and, to a large extent, understandable. Everyone’s a little selfish, a little unkind, but also has good qualities: they’re all very human, which portrayals are ongoing testament to Mr Shanower’s genius.

One thing I thought a little odd about this book was the inclusion of the medieval tale of Troilus and Cressida, but hey, if Mr Shanower wants to have a little fun with other fictions, I’m certainly not going to deny him that. That said, it was also a little strange to me that Kalchas was so unerring in his prophecies. Those bits aside, the book is overall a thoughtful, historically accurate interpretation of the Trojan war (with six pages of bibliography!) that I greatly enjoyed. Granted, it’s a bit of a filler in the overall tale, depicting as it does the lull before the real fighting begins, but it’s a valuable, if not outright necessary part of the epic, and is told brilliantly as always by Mr Shanower’s words and art, now supplemented with Mr Dallaire’s gorgeous and also historically accurate colors.

Age Of Bronze: Betrayal (Part One) by Eric Shanower was published December 20 2022 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including

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