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The War at Troy Hardcover – 4 May 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; Second Impression edition (4 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007150261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007150267
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 28.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 864,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘I found The War at Troy a triumph of retelling the ancient story of the siege and its aftermath, a readable and freshened version that keeps one turning the pages’
Alan Sillitoe

'an engaging retelling of the whole story, neatly blending mythic archaism with modern psychodrama and satire.'
Guardian

‘I’m awed by the web you’ve spun. Not only the beautiful complexities of it but the fine texture of the threads …Full of wise things.’
Ted Hughes

From the Back Cover

"The people who lived in those days were closer to gods than we are, and great deeds and marvels were commoner then, which is why the stories we have from them are nobler and richer than our own. So that those stories should not pass from the earth, I have decided to set down everything I know of the stories of the war at Troy - of the way it began, of the way it was fought, and of the way in which it was ended."

With these words, Phemius the bard of Ithaca and friend to Odysseus, opens Lindsay Clarke's compelling new retelling of the myths and legends that grew up around the war that was fought for the Bronze Age city of Troy and have magnetized the imagination of the world ever since.

Here are the tales of two powerful generations of men and women, living out their destinies in the timeless zone where myth and history intersect and where the conflicts of the human heart are mirrored by quarrels among immortal gods. Peleus and Thetis, Paris and Helen, Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, Achilles, Odysseus and Hector - all are given vigorous new life in a version of their stories which remains faithful to the mythic form in which they first appeared yet engages the reader in a startlingly contemporary drama of the passions.

THE WAR AT TROY speaks to a world still racked by violent conflict in ways which address important aspects of our own experience while at the same time providing imaginative access to the rich store of mythology which is our heritage from the ancient world.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 11 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover
A fantastic rendition of the events that took place prior to and during the war at troy. Retells the story from the view of both the Argives and the Trojans and both sides are celebrated for their bravery and courage. A marvellous book to be recommended to any reader who is eager to understand the basis of the story.
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Format: Hardcover
The only reason I bought this book was because I wanted to read the true story of Troy without resorting to the poetry and somewhat difficult language used in The Iliad (OK, it's not difficult but it's easier to read in sentences, eh?) Having been introduced to Troy through the film I was surprised of all the events that lay before Helen was taken from Sparta, and for me this was one of the best parts of the book.
Clarke uses great descriptions and language to set the surroundings and bring the reader into Ancient Greece where "they were closer to the God's" than we are. I felt totally immersed in the story and even with the massive number of names and places I never felt lost in the story, but more involved in the struggle of the war.
All in all I would say this was a fantastic read that gives a real insight into life in ancient times, as well as retelling the most famous story in the world.
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Format: Paperback
When I was a child my father used to enthrall me with Bullfinch's Mythology, a book that brought together all the Greek myths (amongst others) and became my night-time reading stories. Heroes and Gods abounded, romance and war filled the childish imagination and it was a delight to hear. What Lindsay Clarke has done is tantamount to the same thing. Taken the Greek and Trojan legend of Troy and, in a more prosaic style, rewritten down Homer's epic for a modern generation.
Simple, but genius and I can't think why no one has done it before.
As such, whilst there is nothing new in the story other than to give us more detail of the protagonists heritage, it is retold with a flowing style that breathes the kind of life into these myths that Hollywood is doing with its current round of sword and sandals films.
We open with the parentage stories of the great Illiad heroes, of Peleus and Thetis, Telamon, Priam, Hesione et al before moving swiftly into the infamous Paris contest, the Golden Apple and the three vainglorious Goddesses, Athena, Hera and Aphrodite. Here, over a small contest does a cursed man (who's father Priam could not bear to see murdered on the prophecies of Cassandra) set in motion a chain of events that has resounded through history - the Trojan War.
Clarke breathes real life into the Argive Princes, Odysseus, Menelaus, Palamedes, Achilles, Patroclus, Ajax - all names that echo through history - giving the reader a palpable sense of empathy with each of them. In here we have Achilles overbearing contempt for his King, Agamemmnon, Odysseus' cunning mind, Ajax's heroic directness all of which are pitted against the Trojans.
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Format: Paperback
If ever there was a timely publication, this was it, since it was published at the same time as the major film release of TROY and in the year of the 2004 Olympics. Clarke's retelling serves to reveal in eloquent prose the characters behind these tales of two powerful generations of men and women on the cusp of history and myth.

Clarke has used the classics - The Greek Myths by Robert Graves and The Iliad by E V Rieu, among others, to retell these tales in modern prose and has succeeded brilliantly.

The characters - there's a helpful glossary of deities and mortals at the back of the book - are all drawn well and believably. You feel for them in their happy and tragic moments. Especially the time when King Agamemnon has to sacrifice his daughter to the goddess Artemis. These scenes are particularly moving as the thirteen-year-old meets her father for the first time in nine years. He must kill her to appease the gods, `for the good of all.' How hollow those words ring through history!

As we know, the gods ceased to have form once nobody believed in them any more. At the time of Troy, men not only believed in their gods, some actually met them.

Unlike the film, which had a limited time-span to tell its story, this book fills in the background to Paris, explaining how he was adopted by a woodcutter and only learned of his true birthright as King Priam's son from the interfering goddess Aphrodite. From that point on, his life is blighted. More than once afterwards, he wished he'd stayed in the countryside. We can sympathise with him and the other characters, knowing what will happen.

In fact, Helen's flight with Paris was merely the excuse that Agamemnon needed all along.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read a lot of novels based around the story of Troy, Helen of Sparta, Odysseus, Achilles and the Homeric epic tales. Some of them have been great, some merely good. This novel falls in the extremely good category. One of the things that many novelisations of the Trojan War struggle with is the depiction of the gods; should they be depicted as `real', or as imaginary emanations? And how would a reader really take to an explanation as to exactly why Helen would, willingly or not (and which was it?), leave with Paris for a life that they must both have known was doomed from the start? These can be tricky things to portray well in a novel. The author has done an extremely good job at this; nothing jarred in the portrayal or the characterisations of the gods (flighty, haughty, capricious) or the mortals (brutal, proud, weary); the story is faithfully followed, and while it is familiar to most, if not nearly all readers, it did not pall in the telling. While the novel covers far more than Homer ever did, it is tastefully sewn in the main Homeric narrative.

The writing is light, engaging and totally readable. I would recommend this extremely enthusiastically to anyone who was interested in reading a novel about the Trojan Wars. For another perspective on the war, try Daughter of Troy by Sarah B Franklin - a marvellous tale of the Trojan War as experienced by Briseis.

The author has written a sequel, Return from Troy, which I am looking forward to immensely. This story will cover the lesser known aftermath of the Trojan War, with Agamemnon returning home, Odysseus seeking to find his way home, and the results of the War for the remaining participants and their homelands.
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