Men of Bronze
Men of Bronze is set in 526 BC during the death throes of the ancient Empire of the Pharaohs. A captain of the Medjay (special forces who patrolled the borders of the embattled kingdom) is the hero. His name, Hasdrabal Barca, is not Egyptian, but Phoenician. This was the first of many difficulties I had with this book. Egypt at this late period was a melting pot of races, so a Medjay warrior of Phoenician blood is certainly within the realms of possibility. The problem is that “Hasdrubal Barca” was the name of a documented member of the Barcid Dynasty of Carthage circa 396 BCE. At first I attempted to connect Mr. Oden’s Medjay Berserker with the historical Barca, but even after I got that sorted, other troubles arose. Although details of daily life and party politics came across as realistic, and although the battle/fight scenes were bloody and exciting, the chapters hopped between characters who were barely introduced before they were killed. Worse, most of them might have strayed in from the pages of Conan the Barbarian. The two-dimensional men are better drawn than the women. Even the heroine, a victim-slave of unbroken spirit and a “healer,” is barely sketched in.