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Black Ships Before Troy

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,809 ratings  ·  273 reviews
Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, is one of the greatest adventure stories of all time. Rich with arresting imagery and memorable characters, its powerful metaphors still permeate modern culture. This brilliant retelling offers young readers an exciting introduction to the heroes of ancient Greece while providing the complete story of the battle of Troy. The legendary beauty, ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 6th 2000 by Frances Lincoln Ltd (first published 1993)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Sean Barrs
This is the perfect book for those that want a taste of Homer's Iliad before attempting the full work. Although aimed at a younger reading audience, Sutcliff's writing is concise and gripping; thus, this will be as equally beneficial to adults. This, when brought together with the excellent artistic skills of Allan Lee, makes for a lavish retelling of the Iliad.

The story begins with two lovers, a Trojan Prince (Paris) and the wife of Menelaus King of Sparta (Helen). Helen's beauty captured the h
...more
Esteban del Mal
The verdict of a seven-year-old:

"There's too much killing! They shouldn't have done that over one stupid woman! They should've just talked things out!"
Stefan Hull
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great introduction to the Iliad. It was dark and gruesome, but that allowed the moral quandaries to dance center stage. Through the entire story, even the youngest readers can’t help but judge good and evil, right and wrong, justice and mercy.
Nicky
I didn't know, when I asked for this retelling of the story of Troy for Christmas, that it was illustrated by Alan Lee. It was enough for me that it was written by Rosemary Sutcliff! And even without the illustrations, it's well done: Rosemary Sutcliff brings a lot of pathos to it, with moments of insight and tenderness. I thought the moment from the Iliad with Astanyax being afraid of his father's helmet was well done, but there were other good bits. In most ways, though, it stuck close to the ...more
Stacey (bookishpursuit)
A simple, middle grade to YA telling of the Illiad. After reading Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles, and Circe, I have been driven to become more proficient in these Greek Myths, so I am starting with simpler tellings, and will ramp up, until hopefully, I feel ready to read Homer's masterpieces.
The BookSeeker
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting read. Taken from Grecian mythology, something a people once believed to be true, something from history, the tale can be baffling. (Who wanted to believe their gods-blessed heroes massacred a city?) Steeped in violence, sprinkled in mythology, this book may not be one you’d like to pick up.
Then again, it claims to be history…
For content, check out the BookSeeker- Black Ships Before Troy

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Trace
Luke's review:

This was about a 10 year long war called the Trojan War between the Greeks and the Romans. And there was large wooden horse which was Odysseus' idea which help the Greeks to win the war.

It was terrific and exciting and it had lots of action.

Momma's Note: We listened to the audio version of this book which was read by Robert Glenister, and I can heartily recommend it. Robert Glenister is a fabulous narrator and captured the attention of my young son.
avery ♞ do something revolutionary
It's...okay. I have to read it for class (ew) which kind of sucks the fun out of it.
Sean O
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How good is this book?

1. I read almost exclusively on the Kindle because of presbyopia. But I read this physical book gladly.

2. I somehow managed to lose the book while traveling, so I immediately ordered a replacement.

Ok, so you know know at what lengths I've gone to read this book. Now marvel at the lengths the Greeks took to defeat Troy.

This is a prose retelling of the Iliad, written in a manner appropriate for all ages. Well, all ages interested in fairly epic tales of ancient battlefiel
...more
Joel Simon
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Iliad for children. Can such a book exist and be good at the same time? The answer is a resounding "Yes!" Not for very young children, mind you, because you can't really dress up war, death and destruction for little ones, but if you want to get an 11-13 year old started on some Greek mythology, this is the way to go (and there is an Odyssey to go along with it too!).

The story, as we all know, is fascinating -- from the Judgment of Paris, to the wooing of Helen of Troy, to the death of Achil
...more
Angie
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this with the kids for a children's book club. If it weren't for the book club, I probably would have stopped reading it to them but I would have kept reading for myself. There is a lot of violence in the Trojan war...and since I have never read the Illiad, I didn't realize how much violence is in the story. But I don't know how much they really understood. There are dozens of characters to keep up with so half of the time I was telling them which side a character fought on. And even towa ...more
Diane
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-my-classroom
I'm pleased to have such a well written version of the Iliad (including the Aeneid's fall of Troy) for my sixth graders! Sutcliff does such a wonderful job with language in this translation that I plan to focus our English lessons on word choice, metaphors, similes, personification, extended metaphors, foreshadowing, and prediction. Additional lessons will include an historical timeline, Homer and Virgil, a discussion of translations to suit a particular audience, historical evidence of Troy and ...more
Poiema
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a children's version of the Iliad, though not beneath the dignity of an adult. Sutcliff brings the many battle scenes alive in her meticulous telling and is very skilled in her use of vivid imagery. The character development is such that you are able to "see" people as neither good nor bad, but as humans who are capable of either. I think this is especially important in a children's book, because children by nature like to categorize characters in black or white, and literature like this ...more
Alan Teder
Excellent Iliad 101
Review of the paperback of Rosemary Sutcliff's (1920-1992) posthumous 1993 text-only original, currently (Nov. 2018) incorrectly* merged in Goodreads with Alan Lee's later graphic novel adaptation from 2000**

Newcomers to Homer's Iliad will likely be surprised to read that it begins with Achilles' quarrelling with Agamemnon and ends with Hector's funeral i.e. all sorts of iconic mythological fiction tropes such as the Achilles Heel and the Trojan Horse do not appear in it at al
...more
Gavin
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book to anyone with children. They need to know the Iliad, and this is a great start.

Told in an entertaining way and with great illustrations.

The Chattanooga library has a copy, so you don't have an excuse.
Leah Beecher
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it
This is the re-telling of The Iliad for kids. Rosemary Sutcliff is a great juvenile historical author for children. A homes-schooler go-to! This book is no exception. Lots of beautiful illustrations,a good descriptive narrative that did not read like a hacked condensed book for kids. But this condensed version is still very, very, long. I am sure to keep true and include all the elements of this very long piece of Greek literature. Did I mention long? I don't know much about ancient Greek litera ...more
Jamie Collins
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent version of The Iliad for reading out loud. Illustrated by Alan Lee, famous for his illustrations of The Lord of the Rings books. The prose retains some recognizable elements of the original (there's the occasional simile about lions hunting their prey) while being obviously much more succinct (she takes only two or three sentences to describe the Shield of Achilles.)

This version encompasses more of the story than The Iliad: it begins with the quarrel between godesses that led to Pa
...more
Jennifer
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This retelling of The Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff (complete with artwork) is considered to be for children, but it is a fantastic introduction to Homer's works for people of all ages. She captures the essence of Homer's epic poetry in prose form, with all the anticipation, action, and emotion intact. Highly recommended for read-alouds with older elementary age children, or for adults who are afraid to try the full text, yet. This smart intro will probably whet your appetite for the real thing, an ...more
Jan
This was a tad dry and I was surprised by the level of violence being that is considered a book for kids. I realize that there was quite a bit of violence involved in the story of Troy but the retelling was rather graphic and I would suggest previewing it before sharing with your youngsters. There were sections of equisite writing but not enough to sustain me through it all. 2.5 stars
Christine
Do I have say more than this is read by Robert Glenister? Oh, okay. Sutcliff's young adult/child version of Troy is actually a pretty good combination of the various Troy cycles, though she does not go into the evens after the Fall of Troy. It's actually quite good.
Sarah
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Rosemary Sutcliff's retelling of the Iliad. She keep a quick paced while reflecting Homer's style.
Vicky
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
LOVE this book! Love the pictures and the beautiful word pictures and how the Iliad is accessible to children!

2nd time through, still LOVED it!!
LuAnn
Jun 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Well rewritten from The Iliad, but all about war, so violent and gory and senseless. Now I know why I never read The Iliad. The Odyssey is more enjoyable.
Jennifer
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My s t udents absolutely loved this book!
CJ
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Had to read this for school. I liked it a lot.
Kara
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: myth

The Iliad in prose form with illustrations. Perfect level for those beyond picture book versions of the ancient myths – but not up for full on Alexander Pope.
Amanda Engelking
Aug 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Apparently, the story of the Trojan War wasn't much to tell. This book was dull, violent and confusing. It was a book club book, otherwise I would have never read it.
Alicia Whitt
May 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
I hated every moment. This book was the worst book ive ever read. 0 stars.....
James hunter
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although Homers Odyssey is a classic you gotta give Rosemary Sutcliff a pat on the back, she definitely hit it out of the park. When i was really young my father tried to read the book to me but evidently I was more interested in the pictures, so it was really fun to revisit a child hood memory.

Now when Paris is picked to decide which one is the better looking the gods seriously messed up, (Aphrodite is the god of love so of course hes gonna pick her(duh 😣😣😣😣😣😣😣😣😣😣😣). Anyway after that mess up
...more
Kirsten
Oct 28, 2019 added it
Shelves: gr9-semester-1
I'm not going to give this a rating, it seems a bit unfair for some reason. This is about the Trojan War, and the story of it. Given this is simply just Greek Mythology, flat-out with no changes, it shouldn't get a rating. If you like Greek Mythology, I do recommend this. It's informative and clear about what happened. Well, if you don't like it (I don't), you shouldn't read this. It will bore you. Overall, I can't say I enjoyed Black Ships Before Troy, only because I'm not a fan of Greek Mythol ...more
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Rosemary Sutcliff, CBE was a British novelist, best known as a writer of highly acclaimed historical fiction. Although primarily a children's author, the quality and depth of her writing also appeals to adults. She once commented that she wrote "for children of all ages from nine to ninety."

Born in West Clandon, Surrey, Sutcliff spent her early youth in Malta and other naval bases where her father
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“Always, in these times, I am wretched save when sleep comes to me. Therefore, I have come to look upon sleep as the best of all gifts.” - Helen, about the war” 5 likes
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