Review: A Song of War by Various

Sunday, October 16, 2016
Title: A Song of War
Authors: Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, Russell Whitefield
Genre: historical and mythic fiction, retellings
Series: N/A
Pages: 483
Published: October 18 2016
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 4.5/5

Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy's gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess' son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood.

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

Through a wide array of voices and perspectives and several hundred pages, these talented seven authors string together a cohesive and passionate overview of some of the most famous events of the ages. Carefully using some of the most familiar but ignored faces from inside the legendary city of Troy while also giving voice to a few of its relentless enemies, A Song of War deftly re-imagines and reinvents a new iteration of the oft-told story of Helen from the beginning to its end, while still staying true to the heart of the tale. 

Kate Quinn and Stephanie Thornton are two authors who excel at characterization and motivation for both known and new historical personalities, even when they are working with less than 70 pages to do so. The book begins with their contributions (The Apple is first and is followed by The Prophecy) and the POVs of Hellenus, Andromache and Cassandra are given new, believable life under their hands. The strong execution carried throughout A Song of War is laid down in its foundation here. These first two offerings are female-dominated stories, which means they choose to feature narration from characters largely ignored by Homer. Thanks to the skillful maneuvering of Quinn and Thornton, this beginning offers up a plausible and interesting new version of the inception to the famous story.

The middle contributions of this anthology-novel are similarly well-handled and fresh in both nature and choice of narration. Featuring a blend of skirmishes both bloody and political in scope across each Song, these additions are from both new and familiar authors. Russell Whitefield's contribution is a complex narrative that gives a distinct voice and creates some surprising empathy for a war-weary Agamemnon in The Sacrifice. This strong but careful approach to plotting  is continued in the pivotal battle between the hope of Troy, Prince Hector, and the savior of the Achaeans, Achilles, in Christian Cameron's subsequent The Duel. Libbie Hawker's addition of The Bow is a natural continuation of the previous momentum with the tale of Penthesilea and Achilles' end, and is one that manages to evoke new emotions from even the most familiar of scenes. 

A Song of War was never a story that was going to end happily, though not all the names featured were destined to die in Troy's fall. The ending may have been foretold and the body count is high, and yet the two remaining authors keep the emotion invested and the book's energy moving. Vicky Alvear Shecter's The Horse is of course centered on Achaean hero Odysseus, and sets the stage rather neatly for SJA Turney to complete the cycle with The Fall. These two tales are closely intertwined and happen so close together; reading Odysseus' unparalleled success against Diomedes is to see the glory of Troy begin to end. I also have to note that ending the anthology with Aeneas' escape is a clever and appropriate move for the two legends it connects. 

Starting with Pompeii in A Day of Fire and then followed by Boudicca's Rebellion in A Year of Ravens to the fall of Troy here with A Song of War, these historical anthologies have yet to disappoint me. By choosing to showcase opposing sides of a conflict or by characterizing a villain into more than one-note antagonist, they have routinely created believable and new versions of history and legend. Each book is an exercise in providing new interpretations of motivations for actions of famous figures to fit combined storylines and it has continuously succeeded. 

Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, October 15
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Sunday, October 16
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, October 17
Review at

Tuesday, October 18
Review at A Book Drunkard

Wednesday, October 19
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, October 20
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, October 21
Review & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Saturday, October 22
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, October 24
Review at Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, October 25
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, October 26
Review at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, October 28
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, October 31
Review & Excerpt at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, November 1
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, November 2
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, November 3
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, November 7
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, November 8
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 9
Review at Historical Readings & Reviews

Friday, November 11
 Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at The Book Tree

Saturday, November 12
 Excerpt at The Reading Queen
Review at The True Book Addict


  1. What a fabulous review, thank you Jessie! I am thrilled that you loved A Song of War and I appreciate you hosting the blog tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

    1. Thanks, Amy! I had a great time and can't wait for the next one from the H team :)


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