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The Song Of Troy [Paperback]

Colleen Mccullough
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 12 2010
The tragic and terrible drama of the war between Greeks and Trojans, the long siege of Troy, and the impact of one woman's beauty on the fate of two nations, is played out again in this dazzling novel based on Homer's ILIAD.

Meet enchanting Helen, who we first encounter as a spoiled teenager and whose passion for the handsome, reckless Paris leads to the betrayal of her husband, King Menelaus, and the fall of the House of Troy. Powerful King Agamemnon with his terrifyingly ambitious wife Klytemnestra and his soothsaying mistress Kassandra. Odysseus, doomed to wander the Aegean for twenty long years; brave Achilles, who is haunted by the mad shade of his mother; the heroes Hektor and Ajax, and many more.

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From Publishers Weekly

Never one to shy away from a good saga, Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds) tackles the Trojan War in The Song of Troy, a retelling modern in idiom but faithful to the original where it counts. Narrated by several of the key participants (Achilles, Agamemnon, Helen, etc.), it follows the war from the beginning, when Helen leaves her husband, Priam, for Paris of Troy, to the end, when Odysseus uses the wooden horse to sneak his soldiers into the city. Not aimed at classics scholars, this is a laudable interpretation of the epic, rendered with both sweep and intimacy.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

McCullough's excellent retelling of the Trojan War saga will appeal both to readers familiar with the famous Greek tale and those with a fledgling interest in the subject. Written in a clever, almost conversational tone, McCullough's version of the 10-year siege of Troy by the armies of Greece unfolds slowly and dramatically, with each chapter narrated by one of the conflict's major players. The trouble begins when the mythical beauty Helen flees Greece to be with her Trojan lover, Paris. This liaison provides the king of Greece with a long-awaited reason to attack Troy. The war drags on for a decade, until Odysseus hatches his brilliant Trojan-horse plan, which brings the war to its ultimate bloody conclusion. McCullough packs the novel with a host of colorful characters who tell the tale of the horrible war from both sides: Helen and Paris, the impassioned lovers at the source of the conflict; the "king of kings," Agamemnon, who, in his desperation to win the war, sacrifices his youngest daughter; the sad old man King Priam; the clever Odysseus; and the tragic warrior Achilles. This vivid portrayal of the people and events of the Trojan War is actually a rewritten version of McCullough's first novel, which was never published. A personal agreement between her and this publisher--not her usual one--now leads to its appearance in print, and her many fans will find it difficult to put down. Kathleen Hughes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entrancing Song Jan. 7 2005
As a student of Archaeology and Classical Studies, I am frequently hard-pressed to find accurate and intelligent variations and interpretations of ancient works by modern authors. McCullough's 'Song of Troy', while it admittedly takes several liberties with character personalities, follows the original 'Illiad' with startling accuracy of actions, but also gives insight as to different reasons WHY the characters may have taken these actions.
It must be remembered that the Illiad, while it will always be the authoritative voice, does not provide extensive insight into character development. For example, Achilles in the Iliad actually leaves the action quite early on and does not return until the later books near the end... McCullough has taken this and other events and tried to fill in the gaps, making the characters and their actions more human, and therefore better understood in the context of the original poem.
I can see how a purist might not appreciate this, but the reality is that there is no 'pure' version of the original either -- this was a poem that was handed down orally for generations before being written down, and for all we know we could have a substantially different version than was, say, being recited in Sparta or Pylos at the time. We know certain segments were altered for the audience, and it just so happens that someone somewhere finally decided to write their version down. Is it so wrong now, that a modern-day storyteller would tell the story again, altering it slightly for their audience? It doesn't break the purity of the original, it merely shows the continuation of this ancient tradition, following in the footsteps of Homer himself.
McCullough's 'Song of Troy' is entrancing and captivating, and will bring the famed story to life as you read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Did not like it at all May 25 2004
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
I am not exactly sure why people like this book so much. I found it boring, dragging, and filled with unsympathetic characters. Even my favourite hero, Hector, doesn't come out in the best of lights, not to mention all the others. Helen for one, is a nasty piece of work, and makes me wonder why anyone would want anything to do with her.
Another thing that bothered me was some grammatical mistakes, fragment sentences and typographical errors. These things should have been caught by the editor. As to characters' names, I found it annoying that Briseis is called Brise here. If you're going to write a book that is based on an earlier work and you use the names in the same format as in the original, then at least you should be consisten about it. All the other characters are named correctly (some with slight variations in spelling, i.e. 'k' instead of 'c' and vise versa, which is acceptable) except Briseis. Maybe I am too picky and a perfectionist, but I think as a novelist, one should pay attention even to the little details.
Lastly, I don't think you can improve on the original. This book has nothing on Homer's Illiad, and I am sorry I have wasted my time reading it.
Not recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Trojan war retold in a humane & modern way. Nov. 17 2000
By Uri Raz
Ms McCullough tells the story of the trojan war in a most interesting way - a political context is presented, the characters' psyche, set of mind, and motivations are presented, and the plot is broken into chapters, each told by a character around which that part of the plot turns, e.g. By Helen, Achiles, and Priamus.
The storytelling is great - I was touched by the scene in which Priamus leaves Troy and comes to Achilles and asks him to give him Hector's body so he could give him proper burial, which is minimalist yet touches the heart.
This way the plot comes to life, rather than being retold as a myth or dry history, and makes for a great reading.
The book is written as prose and doesnt go into great detail when it comes to describing material which isnt a part of the plot (e.g. the ornaments on shields), which makes it more readable than a faithful translation of Homer's Illiad (it's noteworthy that Ms McCullough used material not only from Homer but from other sources as well, such as Virgil and Hesiod).
This book makes for a long reading - it took me several hours of reading over a two weeks period - but I enjoyed it a lot, and recommend it with all my heart.
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