Friday, 20 June 2014

Lit Nerd Recommends: Troy and the Greeks

Last night I treated myself to a standing ticket for The Last Days of Troy at The Globe. As well as being a brilliant play, full of mortals and immortals, blood and tricks, it reminded me of many of my favourite books. It also made me wonder how many times a person can fall in love with a subject, ie the Trojan War. I'll let you know on that when I've finished falling in love with it. I love The Iliad and The Odyssey (the later perhaps a tad more), and almost as much as I love the originals, I love modern re-tellings and adaptations or really anything that remotely alludes to the subject. I touched on one or two of these in a previous 'Lit Nerd Recommends', but here I'm going to share those that are specifically linked to either The Iliad or The Odyssey.

1. Ransom by David Malouf
This is a stunning rewrite of The Iliad which focuses on when Priam visits Achilles to ransom his son's body.

2. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Atwood's imagining of Penelope's role in The Odyssey is simply brilliant.

3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I read this before I started blogging but if I'd read it after, my review will have been just as glowing as Charlotte's.

4. Troy by Adele Geras

I found a copy of this in a villa in Italy whilst on holiday with my family. We're talking something like 9/10 years ago. I promptly bought myself a copy when we returned and never looked back. I can still remember elements of the story and I doubt it will ever leave me.

5. The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason

This is a beautifully written novel which re-imagines many of the key scenes in The Odyssey.

6. The Fall of Troy by Peter Ackroyd

Ackroyd is a crazily talented chap. I love his non-fiction and both my Mum and I loved this dark, intense novel which focuses on a couple who are in search of the lost city of Troy.

7. Cassandra by Hilary Bailey

If I was going to choose a favourite player in the Trojan War it would probably be Cassandra. This novel focuses particularly on her experiences.

8. Helen of Troy by Margaret George

Ah, the face that launched a thousand ships. This is the war narrated by Helen - interesting stuff.

9. The Trojan Women by Euripides

Not so much a modern take (clearly) but I loved this play which focuses on the end of the war.

10. The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young
This is perhaps a tenuous link, but the language of The Odyssey is woven throughout this novel. Young links Odysseus' journey to the return of soldiers from the First World War.

Bonus Recommendation:
11. Troy (the film version). I'm sorry but seriously, hello Brad and your sweaty yet perfectly formed body. Ahem.

Now I know there are so many more books out there on this subject so if you know of any, please share!

Have you read any of these? Do you share my enthusiasm for the Trojan War?



  1. I've never seen a book list on blogs I liked more! Thanks so much; I just read the Odyssey, Penelopiad, and Who Killed Homer, and am hoping to continue the ancient Greek theme throughout the rest of this year. That last one sounds especially appealing considering that I'm doing a WW1 theme this year.

    Have you seen the 1997 version of The Odyssey?

  2. At last... someone else who enjoyed the Brad Pitt version of Troy. Loved it - and him in it!

    1. It's a great flick -- my only grievance is that Paris is the one who kills Achilles. Paris doesn't deserve such honors!

  3. This is *just* the list that I wanted right now - Hanna just read The Song of Achilles and I was reminded about how much I flipping adored that book and then when we were in Greece, all of the ruins had me itching to get into some more Ancient Greek goodness. I love The Penelopiad too so I'm taking it as given that I will love the rest of your list and it's all wishlist bound! Especially numbers 4 to 8, which just sound basically the best. Thanks all round is what I'm saying!


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