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Old 03-26-2011, 05:22 PM   #8722
ATDrake
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End of semester stuff is killing my free time, so once again my leisure reading list is being determined by "what's due at the library first?"

That would happen to be Glyn Iliffe's The Armour of Achilles, part 3 in a Trojan War retelling whose first 2 parts I have not read.

This is a loosely Odysseus-centric epic. And by loosely, I mean that while Odysseus's deeds are certainly one of the main foci, and there's some stuff about what's going on with Penelope back in Ithaca woven throughout the narrative, the viewpoint character is mostly one Eperitus, ostensibly the captain of Odysseus' guard. His name is actually one of the pseudonyms that Odysseus uses in the actual myths, and he's a wholly invented character who seems to have been inserted into the backstories of the other canon characters in order to observe and comment.

He's not a bad character actually, but this novel seemed very focused on epic one-on-one battle scenes and power-jockeying with somewhat less motivation-and-internal-reasoning shown, though there's a sufficient amount of that for both Trojans and Greeks.

Kind of like the Bayeux Tapestry, come to think of it. A whole lot of carts being loaded up and fighting being lavishly depicted, but only a little "Hic Haroldus Rex etc." explanation of it all. Oh, and the gods make partisan walk-on appearances, which probably shouldn't surprise me, but at first seemed slightly out-of-tune with the "bloodily realistic war-weary" tone that was set.

Iliffe puts a brief but handy author's note in the back describing the mythical basis of his story and the departures he made (interpreting a couple of events to put Odysseus' motivations in a better light, since he's supposed to be the "hero" of the series and all that), which is always welcome. A couple of "classic" characters are called by their lesser-known alternative names in order to not spoil their part in the plot, I think.

Overall, an interesting and well-enough written work, although probably the one-on-one combat scenes could have been trimmed without any loss. I don't think I'd buy these books myself unless perhaps PanMacmillan UK were to discount the lot to about $2.99 on special promotion to which I could apply Kobo discount coupons, but I'm interested enough to look up the other volumes at the library.

Mild recommend if you like historical novel retellings of the Trojan War that are a little tilted towards the battle-recounting side.
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