Troy: Last War of the Heroic Age by Si Sheppard

I stumbled upon Troy: Last War of the Heroic Age (Myths and Legends) while at NetGalley looking for something else entirely.  But my interest in Greek and Roman myths pulled me in.  This seemed something I would enjoy:

TroyWhen Paris, prince of Troy, ran off with Helen, wife of the king of Sparta, it launched the greatest war of the mythic age of Greece. Heroes and gods assembled on both sides, as the combined armies of Greece launched a siege that would last for ten years. During that time, famous heroes, such as Achilles, Ajax, and Hector, would find glory on the battlefield, before being cut down by their enemies. Others, such as Agamemnon, Odysseus, and Aeneas, would survive the war, only to face even greater challenges in the aftermath. Thanks to the Iliad of Homer, and numerous other ancient sources, the story of the siege of Troy has survived for over 3,000 years. In this new book in the Myths and Legends series, Professor Si Sheppard draws together all of these ancient texts to tell the complete story of the Trojan war, from the flight of the ‘face that launched a thousand ships’ to the great wooden horse that brought the city to bloody ruin. Accompanied by both classical and modern artwork, this book is the perfect primer for those interested in the greatest war of the ancient world, and the last great conflict between the gods of Ancient Greece.

It took me a little longer to finish because I became distracted by other books but it turned out to be a handy primer on this ancient epic story.

The book has a couple of components. One is a pretty straightforward retelling of the story contained in the Iliad including pretty detailed battle scenes. Alongside this are breakouts that include artwork inspired by the story both ancient and modern.  There are also some breakouts focused on the history and archeology of the story and the region.

I thought the retelling aspect was well done. Granted I am not enough of an expert to offer much criticism but it read to me like a useful summary for students and those seeking an understanding of this classical tale without reading the source material. And it really is a classic story.

I, however, read it on my Kindle and this made it hard for me to judge the other aspects.  For whatever reason, the artwork and sidebars didn’t really format well on my Kindle (I received an ARC from NetGalley). This made it hard to judge the artwork and sidebars but also broke up the story in disorienting ways.  You would have to note where the straight narrative broke off and then pick up again when it restarted after the art or historical interlude.

The only other complaint was that at times the names and characters get a little overwhelming.  So and so killed so and so, when you really have no idea who so and so was and then forget whose side they were on.  A reference guide to names and the same for Greek gods and goddesses would have go along way.

But as a basic introduction to this foundational tale, this volume was pretty handy and one you could recommend to any one wanting just the basics.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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