Top critical review
11 people found this helpful
on 28 December 2003
Bradley is a fine author that I normally greatly enjoy, but I find this one of hers has little to recommend it. It is one of her very few novels that is classified as 'general fiction', though why it should so filed seems odd to me, as it is at least as much a fantasy set in historical times as her Mists of Avalon. It tells the story of the fall of Troy, complete with all the characters from the famous Greek epics, the main character viewpoint being that of Cassandra (or, as spelled in the book, Kassandra).
For this interpretation, Bradley posits that the Gods and Goddesses of the time are real, and only in very brief points does she give the possible interpretation that they may be merely the inventions of fevered dreams. Kassandra is still the prophetess of Doom, trying to warn all and sundry of her visions, which naturally nobody will take seriously until they come to pass. As an idea for a novel, this seems quite good, but unfortunately the book does not succeed as either an historical novel or as a fantasy. The mix of the two here is very uneasy, unlike the brilliant job she did with Mists of Avalon. I think my main problem was with the secondary characters - just about all of them except Helen seemed like they were strutting on a stage, mouthing their pre-ordained lines. And sometimes her explanations for the legends, like the Trojan horse or Achilles heel, seem too mundane and matter-of-fact to have spawned the legends as we know them.
Kassandra herself is well portrayed, a believable woman, but as the book progresses she becomes a mouthpiece for Bradley's main theme of independence for women from the tyranny of men. While this theme is not inappropriate given the subject material, here it was to the point where it was too strident, to where I almost felt I was reading a feminist tract rather than a novel of epic happenings surrounding the fall of Troy.
A good idea, but a flawed execution. Bradley has done much better.