Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Black Ships Before Troy” as Want to Read:
Black Ships Before Troy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Black Ships Before Troy

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,004 ratings  ·  290 reviews
Homer's epic poem, The Iliad is brought to life by Rosemary Sutcliff with the skill of a good storyteller, and with the dramatic and haunting illustrations of Alan Lee (Art Direction, The Lord of the Rings).

The book was the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1993.
Paperback, 1st paperback edition, 128 pages
Published 2000 by Frances Lincoln Ltd/Children's Books (first published 1993)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Black Ships Before Troy, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Vee Ryder -- KotlcExclusive
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,004 ratings  ·  290 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Black Ships Before Troy
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
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.
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
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
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

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.
Becky Pliego
I read this one several times with my kids many years ago. I’m glad I picked it up again.
avery ♞ do something revolutionary
It's...okay. I have to read it for class (ew) which kind of sucks the fun out of it. ...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. ...more
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. ...more
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!!
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.
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My s t udents absolutely loved this book!
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Had to read this for school. I liked it a lot.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing

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. ...more
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Archimedes and the Door of Science
  • Las aventuras de Ulises, la historia de la Odisea de Homero, ESO. Material auxiliar
  • In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid
  • D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths
  • The Golden Goblet
  • Where Is the Parthenon? (Where Is?)
  • Ramayana: Divine Loophole
  • Arash the Archer: A Story from Ancient Persia
  • The Story of the Greeks
  • Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha
  • Who Was Alexander the Great?
  • Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire
  • The Bronze Bow
  • Never Give in: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill
  • Tales of the Taoist Immortals
  • Olympics of Ancient Greece: A Nonfiction Companion to Hour of the Olympics (Magic Tree House Research Guide)
  • Gods, Men & Monsters from the Greek Myths
  • Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Thirty-four years after the publication of her dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood returns to continue the story of Offred. We talked...
367 likes · 59 comments
“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
More quotes…