Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Iliad - Review

I posted this review on my blog as well Rhinoa's Ramblings but am adding it here too. It wasn't on my list of five books to read for this challenge, but Alyson proposed it and seeing as I read it I though why not talk about it here too!

Rating : 4.5/5

Reason for reading : Various challenges, always meant to get around to it

The well-known story of the Trojan War is recounted here. It was all started when Paris (son of Priam of Troy) ran off with Greek Helen the wife of Menelaus. Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon raise an army and lay seige to Troy consisting of a selection of famous warriors including Odysseus, the two Ajax's, Achilles, Nestor, Patroclus and Diomedes. The Trojan side is led by Hector (eldest son of Priam), Paris, Aeneas, Sarpedon and Polydorus.

The story begins six years into the fighting with an arguement between Agamemnon and Achilles over a girl. Achilles refuses to help in the fighting, even though the Greeks are losing, until his best friend Patroclus is killed by Hector. He then gains his revenge by killing Hector even though his death has been prophesised to follow not long after. The novel ends with Hectors funeral and before Achilles dies and the sacking of Troy.

There is a great collection of characters on both sides and the story is filled with action and some great speeches. It can get a little A killed B, C kills B in retaliation and then D etc. To stop it from being just a list of the names of the fallen and their killer, Homer has a little back story for most of the characters just before they are killed. The methods of killing seem to be mostly by rock or by spear just above the nipple, in the liver or in the eyes or mouth. It's pretty gruesome in places and the killing blows nicely match my imagination of their armour and their weak spots.

My favourite, yet most annoying aspect, is the role of the Gods (mostly Hera and Athena who really mix things up and cause havoc). The Gods are not content to sit on the sidelines and let destiny unfold naturally and as prophesised, they are constantly argueing and getting involved. They often help their favourites by whisking them away from battle or shielding them from attack. They also make things more difficult for the opposition and attack the other Gods in the process. It's like the traditional image of them playing chess or another board game with the human warriors as the pieces.

Overall though, a great book. Again I can see why it is such a classic and I am looking forward to reading The Odyssey in the near future.

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