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The Fall Of Troy

3.19  ·  Rating Details ·  461 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Sophia Chrysanthis is initially dazzled when the celebrated German archaeologist, Herr Obermann, comes in search of a Greek bride who can read the works of Homer and assist in his excavations of the city he believes is Ancient Troy.

But Obermann's past turns out to be full of skeletons and when a young American arrives to question the archeologist's methods and dies of a my
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 2nd 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,053)
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Archaeology in support of poetry
Truth informed solely by belief
Mythology as foundation for worldview

DAMN...this is crazy, unique, and beautiful story.

19th century archaeology may frame this novel, and the ruins of the ancient city of Troy may color it, but those elements don’t begin to describe this book. This work is a sonnet honoring headstrong, unrestrained human passion and the seductive obsession of personal truth over objective facts. That, plus a lush, lyrical stroll through the pages
Mar 05, 2013 Kalliope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It felt like flying, may be because I practically read it in the course of two medium-length flights.

As there are many good reviews of this book, I will not extend myself too much.

Ackroyd is a master teller. He polishes the fascination that his amateur archeologist Heinrich Obermann (a.k.a. Henrich Schliemann) feels for anything Homeric to a degree of brilliance that it naturally reflects back from Obermann himself. Those people living around him, or visi
Dec 04, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: text book archaeologists and sofa time travellers
As a practising archaeologist, I'm automatically drawn, like an old moth to an archaic flame when it comes to historical fiction dealing with the pursuit of archaeology. It's like a sickness but I can't stop reading this kind of book. The fixation started with River God by Wilbur Smith and continued with The Seventh Scroll and it has since been born out by Agatha Christie, latterly by Peter Ackroyd and by cinematic greats such as Indiana Jones and the slightly less great "Mummy" series.

The purs
Dec 13, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: romantics
Recommended to Mark by: Shovelmonkey1
You know how as you read a novel you will often get a picture of one of the characters in your head and after that all evidence to the contrary will have to be subsumed into your image no matter how much mental gymnasticing that might involve. Here, for me, was a classic case in point. The main character, a german archaeologist called Obermann, had the misfortune of resembling in my head the author picture of Peter Ackroyd on the inside cover of my copy. This meant every scene was played through ...more
This was a lot better than I expected it to be, given it was a random find in a charity shop. The central character, Herr Obermann, is an odd one: unlikeable in his fanaticism, and yet attractive in his dedication to his ideas. The supporting characters are not so vivid, but Sophia has a quiet strength which is very appealing.

The story itself is more suspense and quiet threat than action, really. The dialogue is odd, rather stiff, because Peter Ackroyd seems to make a pretty good attempt at repr
Lady Knight
First off, I'm going to admit that there were several times I was ready to give up on this one and only restrained myself as I had no other audiobooks to listen to as I worked.

This really should have been a good read for me as, superficially at least, the book ticked a lot of boxes for me:
Archaeology? Check.
Fictional retelling of real historical figures? Check.
Interesting premise? Check.
Historical setting? Check.
My problem(s)? I hated the characters (and yes I know Obermann is suppossed to be a
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I rather enjoyed this slim novel. If you've read Homer's Iliad and have any interest, whatsoever, about the historical aspects of the discovery of Troy on the Asia Minor coastline, then this book is for you. Peter Ackroyd does a wonderful job of telling an enthralling tale about the discovery of the ruins of Troy and its initial excavation. His two primary protagonists are rather tightly based upon the German amateur archaeologists, Heinrich Schliemann, and his young Greek wife, Sofia, who disco ...more
Darkpool (protesting GR censorship)
Dec 19, 2008 Darkpool (protesting GR censorship) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cathy, Caz, Larry, and others who appreciate good writing
I listened to the Audiobook version, rather than reading this book. There is something of a theatrical quality to this book, and I feel it would make a wonderful film. There is the real sense of inevitability to the story - once the characters have made their decisions the plot thunders inexorably to its conclusion like a Greek tragedy. Michael Maloney, who reads the book, does a wonderful job, and enhances the author's characterisations with his reading. I'm left wondering the extent to which t ...more
May 02, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not another novel about the Trojan War and its aftermath. This was a suspenseful novel about the archaeological excavations of the 19th century; Heinrich Obermann was a thinly-disguised Heinrich Schliemann. This was a fascinating book; it begins with the marriage of Herr Obermann with a young Greek girl, Sophia, many years younger than he. They travel to Hissarlik, where Obermann feels the actual Troy has been buried. Sophia helps him in his work: she feels "if she embraced her duties w ...more
Sep 16, 2007 Spiros rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Peter Ackroyd is his own Evil Twin. As a literary historian, he is absolutely brilliant; he has written insightful, cogent, and stirring biographies of Blake, More, and Shakespeare, as well as incisive overviews of the intellectual life of London and the history of the English imagination. His biography of Dickens may well be the greatest "non-fiction" book that I have ever read. As a novelist, however, he is (to put it charitably) wildly uneven. He has written the wonderful Milton in America, ...more
Jeremiah Genest
Nov 16, 2007 Jeremiah Genest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Ackroyd's intricately plotted little tale, Heinrich Schliemann - the controversial 19th century swindler and fabulist-turned-archaeologist who claimed to have discovered Homer's Troy - becomes the character Heinrich Obermann,who has made an arranged marriage to a young Greek wife, Sophia. Like Schliemann, Obermann has a somewhat sinister cast to his project -- a desire to find physical evidence for racialist theories that the Greeks and Trojans were descended from superior Northern European w ...more
For the first two thirds of the book I found this really quite slow and a bit of a struggle to stick with (the only reason I was able to keep going was the fact that it was only a couple of hundred pages long and I felt that I would be giving up too easily if I couldn't finish a book that short). The last third of the book was quite a bit better and more interesting. I intend to read more of Peter Ackroyd's books so I hope that this book is not a sign of things to come or the best of them all.
I registered a book at!

Not very impressed by The Fall Of Troy. The central character of Heinrich Obermann is the only one who is fleshed out and he is a very unlikeable selfish fantasist, bent on completely destroying a valuable archaeological site in his desperation to make the site fit the demands of his imagination. All the supporting characters are two-dimensional and poorly created so it is difficult to understand their actions an
Nov 07, 2015 Jeanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bizarre book. Entertaining but really bizarre. Obermann is Heinrich Schliemann, Sophia is Sophia and all is fantasy in a stab at historical interpretation. What do we make of Schliemann's little-known Russian wife? She becomes a madwoman whom Obermann keeps around but at a distance. It seems that Ackroyd wanted to explore the outsized boundaries of Schliemann's personality while revising history. The book reads as though Ackroyd jumped up from the hammock, where he was imagining where Schliema ...more
Graham Heslop
What piqued my interest in this work was the ever-present ghost of Homer. The narrative is shot through with references, allusions and ideas from the Greek classics. Ackroyd does this cleverly and often with cutting wit. But where the novel falls down is in the storytelling, which I found prosaic, and that is strikingly ironic. Most of Ackroyd's characters remain underdeveloped but two stand out and demand the reader's attention: Herr Obermann and his Troy. The former is commanding, peculiar lar ...more
Roger Brunyate
Jun 10, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Glorious Rogue

Heinrich Schliemann discovered Troy, that much I knew. I had always assumed him to be some dusty nineteenth-century German professor, treading in the footsteps of the illustrious Goethe. But no. As I now see from Wikipedia, he was a wealthy amateur, opportunist, and rogue. He was German born, yes, but worked mostly in Russia and America, where he became an American citizen; he was a polylinguist, speaking fourteen languages at the time of his death. He made his first million, pos
Apr 26, 2013 Uncle rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Readers of Peter Ackroyd will already be familiar with his interest, some might even say preoccupation, with the concept of history. But for Ackroyd, history itself is not a static monument, but rather a perpetually shifting, unstable idea. Those Ackroyd novels I have read involve scholars of one kind or another. Those in pursuit of historical truth often find themselves disconcertingly uncovering aspects of their own lives and identities which they would prefer remain hidden. And though researc ...more
Jan 28, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When writers play writer games with their subject, resulting novels seem to beg for a book club to help untangle all the layers of metafiction. And for the most part, I finish these books, and think for a while about how deep it is for the novelist to call into question the truth of the narrative, the truth of truthiness, and the truth that truth is relative. Unfortunately for Peter Ackroyd, this is the third or fourth metafiction book I've read in the last six months, and I'm having a bit of tr ...more
Nov 21, 2011 Philip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Fall Of Troy, Peter Ackroyd explores some grand themes against a backdrop of a grander history, but always from the narrowed view of an obsession that denies experience. The story is set in the early twentieth century, a period of great and fast discovery of ancient sites. It is also a time when archaeology is being transformed from a pastime of those with time on their hands to a science for professionals.

Obermann has his mission, an overbearing, all-consuming obsession that drives him
Frank Dahai
Aug 12, 2009 Frank Dahai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peter Ackroyd, the London seer, cockney rebel and analyst of cross-dressing trends, has a disturbing tendency to associate land with intention. In his novels and histories of London and England, he often refers to the land as 'working through' its people and usually in a less-than-nice way, as with the murderers of London for example: they didn't do it, the city did. All of this can suggest a highly-unpleasant 'blood and soil' brand of Fascism, lurking under the surface, especially when it comes ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

The prolific Brit Peter Ackroyd has built his reputation on eclectic, wide-ranging projects that include a dozen novels (such as The Lambs of London, HHHH Sept/Oct 2006) and biographies of Shakespeare, William Blake, Chaucer, and the city of London, among others. The Fall of Troy is a meditation on the siren song of history and a compact, disarming (if ultimately dark) character sketch that explores the limits of belief. The author displays his wit and polymathic interests here, though he cuts t

May 19, 2012 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I believe Ackroyd did a great job with the research and his use of poetic dialogue was brilliant as well as creating a mystery about "Obermann's" knowledge. That said, it was really hard for me to read it (I forced myself because I love reading about Troy), even at just over 200 pages. Obermann (aka Schliemann, no?) is such an unlikeable character (and I'm sure that is intentional), I found it so hard to want to keep reading what awful thing he may have done next.

Also, I think the title should b
Perry Whitford
Sep 24, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it
Another slight but well researched and highly satisfying novel from Ackroyd, this time a fictionalised account of the life and death of Heinrich Schliemann, the businessman, archaeologist and mountebank who thundered across Greece and Turkey in search of the legendary sites of Homer's Iliad.

Ackroyd's version of Schliemann, called Heinrich Obermann, is both a force of nature and an irascible fraud, utterly determined to make his name whatever he finds in his excavations, ready to fabricate artifa
Ann Tonks
Apr 06, 2016 Ann Tonks rated it liked it
The only reason that I haven't given this book a higher rating is because focus of the story telling is a man of such duplicity and madness that I felt uncomfortable on every page. Mind you, the story is fascinating enough that I'll probably do some reading on the subject of 19th century archeology and the story of Troy.
This is my second try of a Peter Ackroyd novel this year, and I come away with pretty much the same impression as with the first, The Lambs of London: not very substantive. Not that every story I reads needs to be life changing or earth shattering; the substance I'm looking for is a voice, an authorial voice, commanding or charming, distinctive or demanding. Ackroyd's voice (at least in these two selections) seems thin and watery. To apply a much used quote, "There's no there there".

The characte
Andrew Langridge
I think Ackroyd is a better biographer than novelist. Still, this is an interesting book about the archaeology of Troy and fact vs fiction in myth. The search for historical fact is so easily impeded by romanticism on the part of the historian.
Jun 09, 2016 Lynne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-2016
I fell for an interesting premise and book jacket copy. I couldn't buy any of the characters. The forced plot gave the author a chance to do some research about Troy, Homer, and archeology.
Jolyon Tuck
When I started reading The Fall of Troy I warmed to the relationship between Obermann and Sophia. By the time they got to Troy I found that I had put the book down and wasn't in too great a rush to pick it up again. As Obermann's approach to archaeology was revealed, so I lost interest in him and his mystery. Around halfway through a discovery is made in the dig that captured my interest again and the introduction of the character of Thornton makes the second half seem worthwhile. Both Obermann ...more
Naomi Di
May 14, 2012 Naomi Di rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Fall of Troy is an obviously veiled fictionalized take-off on the life of the very real Heinrich Schliemann, excavator of Troy.....or is it? I wonder how many liberties were taken. It is a highly unflattering characterization.

Brilliant dialog and characterizations by writer Peter Ackroyd flesh out Heinrich Obermann, a fictionalized Homer Scholar and celebrated German archaeologist archeologist of Troy and his new bride, Sofia. This is a fun and light summer read. The audiobook is narrated by
Jun 17, 2011 Sundry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sundry by: Joan
Very much enjoyed this bit of historical fiction, especially when I mentioned it to my husband, who told me how much of the central character's back story paralleled that of Heinrich Schlieman, the controversial person who went at his archaeological digs pretty haphazardly.

Ackroyd's one of my favorite writers. In this book he draws heavily on the rather melodramatic writing style of the era he writes about. Some of the tropes reminded me of the Bronte sisters' works. Lots of history, mystery and
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Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.

Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age
More about Peter Ackroyd...

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