“From one adventure to another the pace never lets up. Like Homer’s original, Glyn Iliffe’s series is destined to become a classic!”
That's the strapline I gave to Glyn Iliffe for the cover of this book and I think it about sums it up. The Trojan War is over and it's time - at last! - for Odysseus and his men to go home. Back to the wife and child he hasn't seen for a decade. But it's not going to be that easy is it?
Anyone who's ever read the Odyssey will know there's still a lot of story to be told and Glyn uses this book to do so. Gone are the schemes and plots to get inside Troy and, in their place are fantastic islands populated by bizarre monsters like the Cyclops. Truly this is a tale of magic and adventure!
And yet, the characters Glyn has created are - here more than ever before - portrayed as REAL people, with real flaws and emotions. They attack an innocent village, for example, purely so Odysseus can gather some more plunder (wealth and slaves) to take back from the long war. This is how it was back then and the author doesn't shy away from it - it's just a part of life, but it really shows us the type of hard men we're dealing with and it's a great counterpoint to all the fantasy that permeates the story.
The battle scenes are excellent - vivid, exciting and brutal, while the pacing of the tale is just about perfect, drawing the reader in from the very start and not letting go until the end. And it's a long book so you're really getting your money's worth here, as Odysseus and his side-kick Eperitus lurch from one horrible situation to another, even visiting Hades along the way.
Glyn Iliffe has been lucky in a way with this series because much of the tale has been written for him, so he "just" has to flesh it out in his own style. BUT that can also be a curse and I think the end of this particular book shows that. If you know the story of Odysseus from Homer's original you will know his voyage home is not an easy one - far from it. And as a result this novel is very dark, with a lot of death and sadness and I did feel it started to become rather oppressive just as it neared the end.
But things finish on a hopeful note and the next book is set up perfectly!
Glyn is now self-published and I think this new novel really proves his mettle as a writer. Given his original books had the benefit of major in-house editors, cover designers etc I can say this, and his previous self-published book The Oracles of Troy, stand alongside them and, in fact, are probably BETTER.
The Voyage of Odysseus should be out NOW - I hope you pick up a copy, but DO start at the beginning if you haven't read the previous books. They're ALL excellent.
Steven A. McKay, author of Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord Book 1)
This review first appeared on my website and I was given an advance copy of the ebook by the author.