The Song Of Troy Paperback – May 12 2010
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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.
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
The Song of Troy is a fabulous look at the ancient tale of the Trojan War. Ms. McCullough spins a marvelous yarn about a fascinating period. Read morePublished on June 13 2001 by Kindle Customer
A bit disappointing to me. Tale of the Seige of Troy as told from the various participant's stories. No character development that compares with mccullough's Roman saga. Read morePublished on May 22 2001 by Noel Molloy