Wednesday, November 3, 2010

YA BOOK REVIEW: Black Ships before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff

Rosemary Sutcliff was a prolific British historical novelist who wrote primarily for children/YA but also some adult or cross-over books. I’ve been meaning to read her work for a long time, and finally settled on Black Ships before Troy, which was first published posthumously in 1993. (This book could actually fit in any of my categories: historical fiction, YA, or golden oldies!)

In all honesty, it’s my least favorite of the Greek Week readings. Good points are that it is comprehensive and yet, at the same time, it’s short and a very quick read.

My problem with it is that it’s fairly dry. It reads less as a novel and more as though it were a narrative summary of the Iliad—fleshed out a bit to round out the story—but a summary nevertheless. It’s a very good introduction to the story of Troy for anyone who wants to get a handle on who the main players were and a straightforward account of what happened. But for me, what was lacking was the emotional involvement I usually feel with the characters in various retellings. I know this is tragedy– I usually care more.

So, if you’re concerned your background knowledge in Homer might not be up to snuff, consider this a quick readable Trojan War primer. (There is also a companion volume: The Wanderings of Odysseus that I haven’t read, but that I suspect would be similar.)

1 comment:

  1. Please don't let you be discourage by this book.

    Rosemary Sutcliff is one of my favorite authors. I haven't read Black Ships Before Troy, so I cannot comment on it, but her books on Roman times are excellent.

    You may read my review on one of them (The Eagle of the Ninth) at my blog site: