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Can’t mess up the Iliad?

Discussion in 'Historical Fiction' started by Andersson, Sep 15, 2015.

  1.  
    Andersson

    Andersson Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the Colleen McCullough thread I was reminded that I have read three books based on the Iliad and all of them have been very good.

    The Song of Troy by Colleen McCullough
    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
    The Songs of the Kings by Barry Unsworth

    Are all books based on the Iliad this good (and does all of them have to be named the song of something)? Maybe it’s such a good story that it’s hard to mess it up?

    Are there any other examples? I know that David Gemmell also wrote a series but since I haven’t enjoyed his other books I haven’t tried it yet. Maybe I should?
     
  2.  
    Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner Writing and reading Staff Member

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    Have you read The Iliad itself? I think some people fear it'll be a difficult read, but my Penguin Classics version isn't at all - it sits perfectly at home in a modern fantasy/historical fiction library.
     
  3.  
    Ray McCarthy

    Ray McCarthy Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.

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    It's possible to mess up anything. But any translation of it I've read is fine as Brian says. Of course we probably don't exactly have the original. Some imaginings only seem good because you haven't read the original.
     
  4.  
    Andersson

    Andersson Well-Known Member

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    I actually have the Iliad somewhere I think. I tried to read it many years ago but didn't get very far. I can't remember exactly why I couldn't get into it so perhaps I should give it a second try (if I can find it).
     
  5.  
    svalbard

    svalbard Well-Known Member

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    Warrior in Bronze and King in Splendour by George Shipway tell the story from the POV of Agamemnon. I will nail my colours to the mast and say that they are two of the finest HF books I have had the pleasure to read. They take in everything from Hecules as a dangerous mercenary, to Achilles as not quite the man he is portrayed as in the Iliad.

    Agamemnon is the stand out character. He is a brilliantly realised late Bronze Age King attempting to hold his kingdom together as the world changes around him.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6.  
    Bugg

    Bugg A Lerxst in Wonderland

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    Has anyone here read Glyn Iliffe's series of books called 'The Adventures of Odysseus'? I've picked them up many times but never taken the plunge. Just wondering if they're any good.
     
  7.  
    MWagner

    MWagner Well-Known Member

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    I read the Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley back in the day. I recall it being pretty good.

    Funny timing, I just downloaded a preview of Warrior in Bronze to my Kindle app yesterday. Now I'm even more keen to read it.
     
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  8.  
    svalbard

    svalbard Well-Known Member

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    I hope you enjoy it. I have being involved in a long running, but enjoyable debate with a friend of mine about which is the better book. For over 20 years he has held up Warrior In Bronze whilst I have argued that the sequel is a far superior book... both are equally good.

    The Mouse God by Susan Curran is not a bad book about the Trojan War. If I recall correctly it is told from the POV of Briseis.
     
  9.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    I'd agree with you so long as you skip all the lists of names. I'm sure most (non-academic) modern readers always do anyway.

    You can get both verse and prose translations on Gutenberg. I know they have Pope (verse) and Butler (prose) as I have both of those. I think they also have other translations as well.
     
  10.  
    Bugg

    Bugg A Lerxst in Wonderland

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    I read the Robert Fagles translations of both The Iliad and The Odyssey and enjoyed them very much. I'm quite interested in reading the Stephen Mitchell translations, too - I sat in Waterstone's one afternoon and had a brief glance at his version of The Iliad and was still sitting there reading it half an hour later :)
     
  11.  
    Andersson

    Andersson Well-Known Member

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    I couldn't find my copy of the Iliad, it's probably in my old room at my parents' house (it's been a long time since I last saw it). But as several people have pointed out it's available from Project Gutenberg. I did download a copy but after reading a few pages I have to say that it's just not for me.

    This sounds more up my alley. So much in fact that I have already gotten in on my Kindle and looking forward to reading it. Thank you for the recommendation.

    By the way, I like your profile picture. From Boy's King Arthur if I'm not mistaken.
     
  12.  
    Connavar

    Connavar Well-Known Member

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    There are im sure many good historical fiction about the fall of Troy. David Gemmell is the better writer of heroic fantasy,historical fiction than most of those authors mentioned this thread imo. His Troy series is worth a try.

    The Illiad cant be messed up ever imo thanks to good translations. I have read 3 different translations ei read the epic poem 4 times. The first one was a weak translation but the other 3 times was wonderful,timeless read of the least overrated piece of literature ever.

    The list of names are fun at the first but you can get a headache if you focus too much on them. I think its brutally efficient listing all those names telling you the young warriors whole family history and then killing them of horribly thats awesome to read :D
     
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    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    :D I seem to remember I read the first list of names and even tried to remember them. But I started skipping the subsequent ones.:rolleyes:
     
  14.  
    Bugg

    Bugg A Lerxst in Wonderland

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    Sounds like what I did with the songs in LotR :ninja:
     
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  15.  
    Bugg

    Bugg A Lerxst in Wonderland

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    This thread has inspired me to (finally) take the plunge and buy King of Ithaca, the first book in Glyn Iliffe's series about Odysseus. I started it this morning. Fifty pages in and I'm enjoying it so far. The writing has a sort of Gemmell/Iggulden flavour to it, although not as good as either at this point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
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  16.  
    svalbard

    svalbard Well-Known Member

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    Let us know your verdict. It is difficult to find good HF for this era.
     
  17.  
    Bugg

    Bugg A Lerxst in Wonderland

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    I enjoyed it. It's a very quick, easy read. Both the writing and characterisation need a bit of work, I think, but it was his first book so hopefully it will improve. The comparison for me would be Iliffe's Odysseus vs Gemmell's Odysseus. I thought Gemmell's version sprang off the page quite brilliantly. By contrast, Iliffe's version is likeable, brave, and noble but he's not infused with the vitality Gemmell gave him. The action and the pacing are good, though, and the gods and mythical beasties are all there - it gave it a Jason and the Argonauts feel at times, I thought.

    The story of this particular book . . .

    starts with Odysseus as a prince and charts his rise to king, how he met Penelope, how he got that bow, and incorporates Sparta and the betrothal of Helen


    I'll definitely read the second book at some point. I picked up Warrior in Bronze for 99p on Kindle, too. Looking forward to it.
     
  18.  
    svalbard

    svalbard Well-Known Member

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    I hope you enjoy Warrior in Bronze. I have just reread it on Kindle. There are formatting issues with it, but it still reads ok. It brought back fond memories when I was first discovering a historical basis for the old legends of Europe.
     
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    Davidjb

    Davidjb Well-Known Member

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    Armour of Achilles by Glyn Iliffe was really good (according to my review) whereas Song of Achilles was less good. I've enjoyed a few tales linked to the Illead but I prefer the Odyssey personally. That tales far more fanciful.
     
  20.  
    AnyaKimlin

    AnyaKimlin Confuddled

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    My struggle has always been that I was the right age to watch Ulysses 31, religiously (that and Mysterious Cities of Gold were must sees) - a cartoon Odyssey set in space. Boy did it mess up my Greek mythology. I can never remember which is the real one and which is the cartoon. After the cartoon anything else based on that part of the Iliad has always been a little dull.
     
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