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Another Gemmell book, another solid outing. The Dark Prince follows up on the Lion of Macedon. In Lion of Macedon, we follow Parmenion as he rises from a mix-blood outcast in Spartan society to become the Death of Nations. As an unbeatable mercenary general, he eventually comes into the employ of Philip of Macedon. Teaming with Philip, Macedon soon becomes the power in Greece. At the end of the first book, an unlikely string of events conspire to have Parmenion sire Alexander unbeknownst to Philip. However, in doing so Parmenion introduces the chaos spirit into the world, with Alexander as the host.
That’s where the Dark Prince picks up. Alexander is a lonely boy fighting the demon within. People are afraid to touch him because he causes pain and death to those he does touch. If that sounds strange, don’t worry, because it’s about to get stranger. Philip from an alternate Greek reality summons Alexander into his world in order to eat his heart and gain immortality. Strange indeed. Aristotle, an immortal mage – who knew – helps Parmenion reach that alternate Greece in order to save Alexander.
In bizzaro Greece, the creatures of myth are real. Minotaurs, centaurs, and nymphs are commonplace. Parmenion and Alexander reunite and try and save the creatures of the enchantment while fighting off the evil Philip.
You’d think that storyline would be enough for one book, but it’s not. After Alexander and Parmenion make it back, the last quarter of the book follows Alexander’s meteoric rise and fall. Gemmell basically condenses the entire Alexander story into 150 pages.
I enjoyed the book, I guess. It stands in stark contrast to his Troy series. In the Troy books, he takes myth and turns it into historical fiction. In the Dark Prince, he takes history and turns it into myth. It’s an interesting idea, but I think it ultimately falls flat. The short portion of the book that chronicles Alexander’s conquest of Asia is really a cliff notes version of the Alexander story, with Alexander’s sometimes strange behavior explained by the chaos spirit that lives within him.
I’m not sure why Gemmell rushed through the end of the book instead of making this into the trilogy it seemed to want to become. Either way, I found it entertaining if a trifle odd.