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Troy (Point) Paperback – 16 Feb 2001
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Audio Download, Unabridged
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Inside the ancient city of Troy, the cries belong to the women of Troy who have seen their menfolk die and suffer before their eyes. This is the story of two sisters. Marpessa, the younger, is gifted with God-sight and can see the Immortals. She is handmaiden to Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. Xanthe, kind and loving, tends the warriors in the Blood Room, where the wounded are carried in from the battle. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, bored with the endless dreary war, decided to play with the two girls.
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I had some difficulty with the author's treatment of the gods.They would appear frequently to mortals, give them some message about the conduct of the war. Then afterwards the mortal would completely forget everything that had happened including the content of the message. As the result of the visit was completely pointless, what was in it for the gods? What were they trying to achieve if anything at all? The only point of this was the enlightenment of the reader, in which case the gods would need to be aware that they were part of a larger story that was being related out of their time. I found this difficult to comprehend. I had difficulty too with some seemingly unnecessary errors of the mythology. The author credited Ares, God of War, with the idea of the Trojan Horse to bring the war to an end. To credit Ares with the idea that brought destruction to Troy fits with him being a god that thrives on destruction, but as he fought on the side of the Trojans he would be unlikely to aid the Greeks. A more plausible explanation would be to credit the idea of the horse to Athena, the Goddess of War, who wanted the Trojans destroyed.
I was going to give the book 3 stars, but I upped the rating to 4 because I found that it held my attention well and I wanted to find what was going to happen to the main characters as the book drew to a climax. The ending was largely well done and the killing of Astyanax, Hector's baby son, was particularly powerful and had impact.
I preferred this book to Helen of Troy by Margaret George, which I felt was far too long. At least this book didn't drag and I was drawn along by the characters and their relationships.
While the war rages, and Hector leads the Trojan armies in protection of the cities walls against the Greek hordes of Agamemnon, the goddess of desire Aphrodite plays a cruel trick, as is the habit of the Greek gods to toy with the lives of mortals, on two young Trojan sisters, the strong-willed yet gentle Xanthe, and the quiet and spiritual Marpessa by making them fall in love with the same young man, the warrior Alastor.. Meanwhile the stable hand Iason is in love with Xanthe, and Xanthe's friend Polyxena passionately loves Iason . But we also get to see the great events of the Iliad, such as the slaying of Hector by Achilles, and his desecration of Hector's body by dragging it around the gates of Troy, in his chariot, and the delivery of the wooden Horse to Troy leading to the horrific genocide of Troy that we read about at the end-after all this story is about war as much as about romance.
We read about the characters of Helen, Paris, Hector, Adrymache, Priam and the myriad of gods and goddesses and the author's own unique interpretation of them. What follows is an absorbing and sensitive read, if not quite an epic.
It's full of interest and action, and it never became too boring, though some parts were definitely sluggish. The writing is lovely and the notable characters from the poem were well-developed. Her own characters were a bit flat, I feel like I've seen Marpessa and Xanthe before in Geras' other books.
The story never strays from the sub-title - all throughout we see the Gods appear and change the outcome to their whim, talking to then wiping the memories of the mortals for no apprent reason. That would have to be a flaw in my book, since the main charcters, the sisters, seemed nothing much more than tools for Aphrodite to play with; the other characaters were much more interesting to read, yet even they were played around with by the Gods. The ending, on the other hand... Even though I knew the ending, it doesn't take away from the pang I felt, nor the tentative hope for the characters still alive.
Overall, if you like Adele Geras or the Trojan War, this is the book for you!
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