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on 26 November 2015
Classic story Greek classical writers would approve of.....Mr Manfredi has become one of my favourite authors - his background as an Archaeologist means that he is able to add colour to historically accurate facts and bring the characters to life. A must read for fans of "Troy" and "The eagle of the ninth".
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on 5 November 2009
Firstly, I have to say that I bought this book after reading Manfredi's excellent novel `The Last Legion' and started reading this with all the due expectation that it would be another inspiring piece of historical - if what somewhat author licenced - ancient Greek fiction. However, it seems that my own opinions of this book appear to be quite similar to alot of other peoples thoughts on the story.

To be honest, I really wanted to stop reading it after about 120 pages, but stuck with it and it actually got a little better in the middle, before the author decided to kill everyone off in a last few silly paragraphs, which I feel was either the result of the author being extremely lazy, or the publishing company pushing a deadline that hurried the ending on the author. You decide !

I also had some major issues with a book. Introducing characters with no description, history or characteristics that just appear in and out of a novel and the author think that the reader will find this lack of narrative acceptable ? If you want in-depth characters - DO NOT READ THIS BOOK (reminded me of Pressfields Alexander) ! A constant repeating of what one character says being repeated by an second person ! Greek heroes that all decide to commit suicide on the rocks and abandon their wives and children rather than fight a couragous battle to the end like the glorious 300 ? The brief inserts of Greek mythology, soothsayers and creatures just do not work and detract from the storyline. The Greek `heroes' one minute being immensely brave and then the next attacking unarmed and helpless villagers ! Oh you brave Greek conquerors of troy !!!

Lastly, the book is supposed to be about Diomedes and his fight to find and build a new city and civilization, but of the 275 page novel only about 100-125 pages are dedicated to this - the other 150-175 taken up with Menelaus's fight with the Queens of Greece uprising against their husbands to once again control the country. Funny how the people who wrote the back of the book managed to miss that off the back of the book !!

Hugely dissapointing, though I will certainly give the author another chance due to the enjoyment of the The Last Legion. 2 out of 5 (just for the middle !)
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on 16 May 2016
Enjoyable read with a slightly different feel to some of his more historical novels. I think the attempt to create an 'epic' / homeric atmosphere does work to a degree. I like the use of lesser known legends as subject matter but I think he could have woven the two plots together more effectively at the end. The climax of the story is actually a bit of an anti-climax with the end coming rather hurriedly as if he got bored with the story and wanted to get it over with.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 1 November 2014
As other reviewers have mentioned, this book is in fact The Talisman of Troy published under a different title and without any warning from the publisher or Amazon. Regardless of whether this is due to carelessness or cheap marketing tactics, which I was lucky NOT to get caught by simply because I had not read the Talisman of Troy before, this book is well worth reading for several sets of reasons.

The first set is the author’s choice to tell the story of the other ancient Greek Homeric heroes who returned after the fall of Troy. As indicated by the commercial trailer, the focus is on Diomedes, the Achaean King of Argos, but also on Menelaus, King of Sparta and brother of the great warlord Agamemnon, King of Mycenae and overall commander of the Achaeans during the war. So the contents of this book go beyond the sole fate of Diomedes.

As mentioned by the author in his note (which he is careful NOT to describe as a “historical note”), what he has tried to do – quite successfully in my view - is to recreate the stories of the return of these other warlords which seem to have also been the subject of epic “Homeric” poems just as that of Odysseus. This may seem speculative and cannot be historically proven in an irrefutable way. However, it is plausible and it does have the merit of explaining how the literary traditions in Ancient Greece and Rome about the returns of this other heroes emerged and developed. Accordingly, it is from these literary traditions that can be found in the classical works of Aeschylus (and in his Orestian trilogy in particular), in Sophocles, in Euripides and, much latter, in Virgil, that Manfredi has extracted the materials for his own novel presented in a somewhat “Homeric” style. This may look like a case of “reverse engineering” of sorts, for lack of a better term. It is likely to interest anyone interesting in myths and legends, but also those with an interest in classical literature and in theatre, both classical and modern.

A second set of reasons for finding this book interesting is that it combines these Homeric myths with what little we known about the controversial (for historians) end of the Bronze Age and the wide scale disruptions and devastations that accompanied it. Accordingly, the novel includes various raiding “Sea People” including some of the Achaeans themselves (those with Menelaus) coming from across the Mediterranean, and their attack on Egypt during the reign of Ramses III in particular. It also includes what seem to be multiple diseases of unknown origins decimating the pre-existing populations of what would become Italy and their replacement by new settlers, including the “Lats”, ancestors of the Latin populations settled in the Latium, and “the Teresh” which have come from the East and seem to be the ancestors of the Etruscans. Finally, and for the Balkans and Greece, there is the traditional explanation of the slow motion migration and invasion of “the Dor” (the Dorians) armed with iron weapons and presented in Ancient Greek tradition as being the return of the Sons of Herakles.

Then there is another historical explanation which is blended with the Homeric myths of the vengeance of Orestes and Elektra. These are the stories of the Achaeans kingdoms (Mycenae and Argos in particular, although Achaean Crete is also mentioned) rend apart by civil wars as the brother and children of Agamemnon seek to avenge his murder and reconquer the thrones occupied by the usurpers. Whether these disruptions really occurred as mentioned in the book or not, they do seem to have some base and they – or similar historical events would go some way in explaining the relatively sudden fall of what is conventionally (and perhaps somewhat inappropriately) termed the “Mycenaean civilisation”.

A fourth set of reasons, beyond what happens to the exiled Diomedes who almost suffered the same fate as Agamemnon but survived is related to the book’s original title. This is about the magic Talisman of Troy, a powerful idol that makes its holder invincible and which is the real reason for the war against Troy. A related twist is a rather original (although perhaps a bit far-fetched!) interpretation of Helene’s abduction but the Trojan prince Paris, which was the pretext for the war.

One little reservation, however, is that I felt that the author had a tendency to “overdo” at times Diomedes’ distress and despair as his wondering becomes endless and meaningless. A related point is his incredible day-long duel against Aeneas, although, to be fair, this is part of the “Homeric” pastiche that Manfredi has attempted to recreate.

All in all, and despite these few reservations, I very much enjoyed reading this one and would warmly recommend it for any fan of Greek myths, of literature, and of adventure stories. Four strong stars.
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on 7 November 2014
Manfredi is the best I've read on Greek classical (fictional) history. He captures the essance of what they were trying to achieve in that period of time. And hes getting better with every new book. My hat is off to you Valerio.

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on 9 February 2013
Another great book by Valerio who always seems to write the kind of books I love to read.
I liked the story and its well written
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on 7 March 2013
Well written,as are all Manfredi's books.. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction. A really good buy.
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on 8 June 2015
Usual high standard from a brilliant author.
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on 30 July 2015
Manfredi knows how to tell a good story
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