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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odysseus: The Oath
I've read a few of this author's books before, and I'm not sure if it's his style of writing, or the translations, but they always read as being in quite `simple' language, if I can put it like that - uncomplicated, easy narratives of historical or mythical times, places and people. They're jolly good reads without being demanding.

This story is the first part...
Published 13 months ago by Keen Reader

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed it - but when you are starting with a ...
I tried to read Odysseus and the Illyad before (admittedly when I was significantly younger that I am now) but found it a real struggle. This book is presented in a more modern, novel style. I really enjoyed it - but when you are starting with a 'classic' in all meanings of the word you should expect nothing less.

Very good translation and presentation
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odysseus: The Oath, 12 Nov 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Odysseus: The Oath: Book One (Hardcover)
I've read a few of this author's books before, and I'm not sure if it's his style of writing, or the translations, but they always read as being in quite `simple' language, if I can put it like that - uncomplicated, easy narratives of historical or mythical times, places and people. They're jolly good reads without being demanding.

This story is the first part (of I think, two) which tells the story of Odysseus - most people would know of Odysseus from the history of the Trojan War - the Wooden horse, the trickery of Odysseus, his long journey home after the War. This book starts from the childhood of Odysseus and gives us a taste of his early life as son of Laertes of Ithaca. It's not until quite a way into the book that Troy finds its way into the story, when Menelaus of Sparta arrives with news of Helen.

All the familiar names are here - Hercules, Jason, Antenor, Priam, Aeneas, Diomedes, Nestor, Antilochus, Ajax, Agamemnon, Achilles, Menelaus, Hector, Odysseus and of course Helen. This is an epic tale told many times before, but the author has offered a very fresh way of viewing these familiar stories. I really enjoyed the way the author has entwined myths and legends of Greek history into the story of Odysseus, and it's all done in a way that offers a very united and flowing narrative. The language of this book is, as the author acknowledges himself in an Author's note at the end, a deliberate attempt to offer a taste of the simple syntax and rhythmic writing offered by Homer and it takes the tales of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the Aenead of Virgil, and puts the story into a flowing, flawless narrative for a modern audience. The Heroes, the Gods, the brutality of ancient warfare; it's all brought to vivid life here.

This is a really good novel; a great epic tale brought to new life by an accomplished author. Definitely recommended, and I look forward to the sequel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odysseus: The Oath, 26 Nov 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
I've read a few of this author's books before, and I'm not sure if it's his style of writing, or the translations, but they always read as being in quite `simple' language, if I can put it like that - uncomplicated, easy narratives of historical or mythical times, places and people. They're jolly good reads without being demanding.

This story is the first part (of I think, two) which tells the story of Odysseus - most people would know of Odysseus from the history of the Trojan War - the Wooden horse, the trickery of Odysseus, his long journey home after the War. This book starts from the childhood of Odysseus and gives us a taste of his early life as son of Laertes of Ithaca. It's not until quite a way into the book that Troy finds its way into the story, when Menelaus of Sparta arrives with news of Helen.

All the familiar names are here - Hercules, Jason, Antenor, Priam, Aeneas, Diomedes, Nestor, Antilochus, Ajax, Agamemnon, Achilles, Menelaus, Hector, Odysseus and of course Helen. This is an epic tale told many times before, but the author has offered a very fresh way of viewing these familiar stories. I really enjoyed the way the author has entwined myths and legends of Greek history into the story of Odysseus, and it's all done in a way that offers a very united and flowing narrative. The language of this book is, as the author acknowledges himself in an Author's note at the end, a deliberate attempt to offer a taste of the simple syntax and rhythmic writing offered by Homer and it takes the tales of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the Aenead of Virgil, and puts the story into a flowing, flawless narrative for a modern audience. The Heroes, the Gods, the brutality of ancient warfare; it's all brought to vivid life here.

This is a really good novel; a great epic tale brought to new life by an accomplished author. Definitely recommended, and I look forward to the sequel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Walking in the footsteps of Homer?, 22 Sep 2013
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is the first of a two volume series by Valerio Massimo Manfredi based on the famous works attributed to Homer. This one is derived from the Illiad and stops as Odysseus/Ulysses and the Achaean army (or what is left of it) leaves the destroyed city of Troy and starts heading home.

As the author mentions in his note, he has paid homage to the blind poet and kept quite close to the text of the Illiad, including the role of the Gods in the conflict. In a way, you could almost see this as a modern (but nevertheless skilful) paraphrase of Homer where Odysseus tells the story and takes centre stage, just as he will in the second volume by both authors. There is however more to it than that, with the author adding his own take to what may be an entirely mythical story with little historical truth to it, but doing so in a mostly plausible way.
One significant addition is the King of Ithaka's youth and the author's story-telling about the events that happened before the siege of Troy. So the Trojan War only makes up more or less the second half of the book with the first half painting a picture of a number of the Achaean Kingdoms and their society, and of the Kingdom of Ithaka in particular. One interesting feature is the way he weaves in the heroic adventures of those heroes that he presents as being of the previous generation: the Argonauts, including Jason, Hercules, Theseus, and makes Laėrtes, Odysseus' father, into one of them. So the tragic and mythical story of Hercules is part of the prequel of Troy, although the alleged raid that he conducted against Priam's city is totally omitted from this book.

Another interesting take if the instability of Achaean society that it shows, with the various predatory warlords (with the author using the Achaean title of Wanax for Kings) preying the seas and attacking each other. For those interested in such comparisons, this is also something shown in David Gemmell's trilogy on Troy, although he tells the story from the Trojan side. It also happens to be something that can be proved through both archaeology and written sources (mostly non-Achaean) from the Middle East.

Maybe one of the main and most interesting features in this book (at least to me) was the characterisation. Here is where I had somewhat mixed feelings. I very much liked the psychology of some of the characters, such as the younger years of Odysseus when he was but a "teen-ager", but also the war-weary King, or even that of Achilles and his cousin the gigantic Ajax of Salamis. The human feelings that they exhibit seemed plausible to me, because they "looked and rang" true. On the other hand, I also felt that the author's characters were a bit too "nice" at times, and not always plausible. This was particularly the case of Odysseus, who (according to Homer if I remember correctly) had the reputation of a fearsome pirate and was known as the "sacker of cities" but who is presented by Manfredi as inexperienced at warfare as he arrives before Troy. Another element which I found to be missing is that virtually nothing is said about Agamemnon's own ambitions and motivations for attacking Troy. More generally, by choosing to follow in the footsteps of Homer, Manfredi may have, at times, left to the sides the more pragmatic (and perhaps more realistic) motivations of the Achaean army. The purpose of the whole expedition was not only about avenging the honour of the King of Sparta or complying with a sacred oath. It was also about conquest and plunder on a grand scale.

Finally, the author also adds some interesting twists to the famous epic, which I will refrain from mentioning any further. Suffice is to say that with regards to characterization, the portrait he draws of both Penelope and of her cousin Helen are just as interesting as those of any of the heroes. Four solid stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unputdownable adventure!, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Odysseus: The Oath: Book One (Hardcover)
Well written and researched, a gripping read that paints an interesting and informative picture of the protagonists of the Illid and life in their times.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fills in the gaps., 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Odysseus: The Oath: Book One (Hardcover)
For those that have read the Iliad and Odyssey, this book fills in the gaps about the early life of Odysseus in the usual enthralling style of Manfredi. It is not always clear in Manfredi's books, what is fact and what is fiction but it is possible to enjoy the story, safe in the knowledge that what fiction there is, is based on a thorough understanding of the history of the times in which his books are set.

Events move at a pace until the book catches up with the Iliad and then the story line starts to drag slightly as it tows along the events of the siege of Troy. The book again fills in the gap left between the Iliad and Odyssey when it describes the story of the wooden horse and the fall of Troy, most of this appearing to be based the story as it appears in Greek plays. Again this section of the story flows at the usual pace of Manfredi's books.

I really like this book and enjoyed the creation of a flawed hero figure to describe Odysseus, a feature not as apparent in Homer.

I would have given this book five stars except for the slowing of the pace were the book goes over ground covered in the Iliad.

I am looking forward to the second volume about Odysseus's later life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good retelling of a number of very ancient tales which still have the power to grip, 19 Dec 2014
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Initially I wasn't absolutely sure about this one, from the way in which it begins, but stick with it and it becomes a great read.

Manfredi trawls through the fragmentary remains of the Epic Cycle and many other legends of the great heroes of the events which led up to the Trojan War, and compiles a coherent and believable account (that is, he often describes an impossible and magical situation in a way that seems eminently practical but which could certainly lead on to a more magical re-telling over ensuing years) of the early years of Odysseus and the terrible events which preceded the War. He moves on to the course of the War itself, and briefly incorporates the story of the Iliad in an overview of a conflict that is traditionally said to have lasted ten years, culminating in a chilling rendering of the Sack of Troy again based on a fragmentary account of an ancient epic poem long since lost.

Manfredi can most certainly write, and his battle descriptions are gripping, not least because he keeps things quite basic, making a positive virtue of a simple direct style, not unlike Homer himself. The translation from Italian is really excellent, with only a couple of signs, late on, that the translator was getting a bit tired - for example he wrote "I lay a hand on his shoulder . . . " instead of "I laid a hand . . . ", and starts to use "like" when he means "as (if)" (or is this just an Americanism that slipped through the editing?). The research is impressive, and evidently includes material from very late writers (e.g. Fénélon in the 17th century who identified Mentor as an outright manifestation of Athena, which I at least have not come across in the classical literature, though she certainly takes his shape on occasion to give help), and many others.

I haven't read the second volume yet, and confess I have my doubts about whether it could be as good as this one - it is, by all accounts from other reviewers, simply a retelling of the Odyssey, and as far as I am concerned, therefore quite unnecessary, as Homer already told it far better than anyone else ever could (one reason why his account has survived the best part of three thousand years, which Manfredi's quite probably won't!). Then again, his ability to rationalise and explain the magical elements may well bring considerable insights into play, so I'm sure I shall read it. I would certainly look forward to a re-telling of the last part of Odysseus' life, however, based on the Telegony, another bit of the Epic Cycle that has not survived,

Other books by Manfredi are also well worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fact or Fiction? Your choice., 10 Nov 2014
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I found this an interesting and well written story obviously based around the 'young' Odysseus, his formative years, and up to the fall of Troy. How accurate any of the telling can be is, of course, at best a guess but I feel the author has done his best to tell the tale as he has drawn it from his research and understanding of events. The language employed is easy to understand with little or no 'specialist speak' which in my opinion is the curse of many of these types of stories. I particularly like the fact that the tale is told by Odysseus himself, warts and all. An enjoyable and informative excursion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars HELEN; Goddess - or beautiful slut?, 23 Oct 2014
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In my late years I have gained an interest in all those 'Legends of The Great' which we used to learn in school. 60 years on, they still have as great a pull as when I was a child and I can't recommend anything higher than this tale. "The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships"? No-one under 50 seems to have heard of the Great Helen! Here she loses some of the lustre which surrounded her image, but for the better - showing her more realistically in today's terms! READ!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Troy & everything else as I certainly didn't know it, 24 Jun 2014
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Excellently written story telling a tale that everyone seems to know but this story filled in the gaps and made it so beleivable
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5.0 out of 5 stars Odysseus early years to Troy, 11 Oct 2014
By 
Jude Smith - See all my reviews
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Fills in the (imagined) gaps of Odysseus's life from infancy to the Trojan Wars. This is written in a similar style to Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey. I really enjoyed this book as it is simple to read as well as being an epic tale of life, death and warriors. Descriptions of artifacts, habits, clothing and lifestyle of people in the ancient Greek world are excellent. Thoroughly enjoyable read.
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Odysseus: The Oath: Book One
Odysseus: The Oath: Book One by Valerio Massimo Manfredi (Hardcover - 10 Oct 2013)
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