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A Thousand Ships

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  11,645 ratings  ·  1,884 reviews
In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective.

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them…

In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojan
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Hardcover, 348 pages
Published May 2nd 2019 by Mantle
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Josh Hedgepeth I disagree with Natalie. I felt Haynes' narrative gave a broader look at the war that still told a complete narrative. The Silence of the Girls is mor…moreI disagree with Natalie. I felt Haynes' narrative gave a broader look at the war that still told a complete narrative. The Silence of the Girls is more zooming in on one area of it which is a narrative unto itself. Haynes' work is a unique approach that may feel someone disjointed, but it all comes together to tell a cohesive story if in a non traditional manner.

I don't think its just some trend. Both of these stories are telling a different story than what it's based on. The point is that these are parts of the stories that have never been told. Perhaps it will start a wave, but is that a bad thing? If there are stories untold, I would love to see them written.(less)
Candace I found nothing like an "infodump" in "A Thousand Ships." Very much in the Madeline Miller story, but spread wider to offer more points of view on eve…moreI found nothing like an "infodump" in "A Thousand Ships." Very much in the Madeline Miller story, but spread wider to offer more points of view on events both before and after the fall of Troy. Really excellent reading!(less)

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jessica
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
sometimes it feels as if my hearts only purpose is to beat for greek mythology and this book is a gift, straight from zeus himself, to give me life.

this retelling of the trojan war, including the actions that lead up to it and the consequences that followed, is quite refreshing. whilst classic myths tell about the glory and conquests of men, this focuses on the often overlooked presence of women.

elegantly written from the narration of calliope, the goddess of epic poetry, the reader is given a
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Will Byrnes
Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another. - the opening of The Iliad by Homer
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I’m not sure I could have made it more obvious, but he hasn’t
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Eimhear (A Little Haze)
"There are so many ways of telling a war: the entire conflict can be encapsulated in just one incident. One man's anger at the behaviour of another, say. A whole war - all 10 years of it - might be distilled into that. But this is the women's war, just as much as it is the men's, and the poet will look upon their pain - the pain of the women who have always been relegated to the edges of the story, victims of men, survivors of men, slaves of men - and he will tell it, or he will tell nothing at ...more
Roman Clodia
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: skim-read-to-end
I find it extraordinary that a classicist can claim that the women from the Trojan cycle are 'forgotten, ignored... hidden'. As if all those Athenian plays built around the figures and words of the women in these stories never existed: Euripides' The Trojan Women, Hecuba, Andromache; Aeschylus' Clytemnestra; Ovid's Heroides which rewrites epic from the points of view of women such as Penelope, Helen and Laodamia, even Ovid's Metamorphoses which gives us a subversive Calliope alongside the other ...more
Hannah Greendale
Third "read" of the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction longlist.

DNF at page 57.

This is a slight improvement on the 2019 Women's Prize longlist nominee on the Trojan War, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, which claimed to offer a female perspective on the war but was ultimately dominated by the viewpoint of its male characters.

Natalie Haynes honors the women, raising their voices to provide a broader perspective on the war and its aftermath. She flits from one woman to the next, introducing
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Henk
Dec 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel I would have enjoyed this book more if I knew less of the source material. Now a lot of the short chapters feel more like a retelling or even an infodump than truly a stand alone story with fully realized characters
Survivors, victims, perpetrators: these roles are not always separate. People can be wounded and wounding at the same time, or at different times in the same life.

A Thousand Ships starts of with poetic visions of what razing a city means, fires so bright that people and birds
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Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
Looks like female-orientated classical retellings are continuing into 2019 and you will not see me arguing with this delightful trend at allllll
Neale
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction.

4.5 Stars.

This is another retelling of the Trojan War. The novel covers events which happened before and during Homer’s two epic poems, The Iliad, and The Odyssey. However, with this retelling we have something which has not been done before. The story is told from the female characters perspective. Be they mortals, queens, or gods, all the characters are female, with the male characters taking a back seat.

The story begins with the sacking of Tro
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Dannii Elle
I am conflicted. This delivered what it set out to do, which is an account of the Trojan war from a multitude of female perspectives. My issue was that this is precisely what it did. This was a retelling of the most straight up kind. The perspectives were sometimes too brief for me to get a feel for the character behind it and others were dwelt on but never returned to, so that I felt my growing empathy severed before it had a chance to plant its roots. I appreciate Haynes for delivering this st ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Q:
When a war was ended, the men lost their lives. But the women lost everything else. And victory had made the Greeks no kinder. (c)
Q:
She could see her own future as clearly as she saw everything else. Its brevity was her one consolation. (c)
Q:
She remembered the warring sensations when her father introduced them: immediate devotion mingled with a desperate presentiment of grief. (c)
Q:
Unable to bear the conversation of her parents or friends or servants, she found herself repeating the looped wal
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Sara
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars.

A Thousand Ships is an epic undertaking, tackling not only The Trojan War but it’s long and drawn out aftermath, all told from the women’s perspective. Always there, ever present, this is their story. From slave to queen to goddess, this is how they all became involved in the mighty Trojan War and what befell them when the great city burned.

I would say that before going into this you need at least a small amount of background knowledge re
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Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Now published in paperback.

I’m not offering him the story of one woman during the Trojan War, I’m offering him the story of all the women in the war. Well, most of them (I haven’t decided about Helen yet. She gets on my nerves). I’m giving him the chance to see the war from both ends: how it was caused, and how its consequences played out.


I read this book due to its longlisting for the 2020 Women’s Prize - for which it has now been shortlisted.

I had already been drawn to it by: my enjoyment
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Hannah
I am, in many ways, the perfect reader for this book: I have been interested in and reading books about the Trojan War for around 20 years, and thus have an emotional connection to these women already and general knowledge about what happened when in this sprawling story. But this also means that when Haynes makes character decisions I do not agree with, I super do not agree with them. My favourite book of all time is Kassandra – which should give you an indication how seriously I adore her. Als ...more
Eric Anderson
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Haynes begins her novel with the explicit and noble mission to give voice to women from Greek mythology – many of whom were only ever portrayed as minor, unheroic and simplistic characters. This is a necessary and much-welcome endeavour because, aside from the feminist point of view this adds to these male-dominated tales written by men, telling the story from the women’s perspective gives a rich opportunity for retelling these classic stories and shows there is still so much more to say about t ...more
Rosa
meh. just because a novel is written about women and/or from the perspective of women doesn't automatically make it feminist, y'all.

A Thousand Ships, despite its great premise (the story of the Trojan War told from the POVs of the women) - doesn't offer anything new and I do not understand the hype surrounding it at all. There have been other (better written) retellings of the Trojan War by women and about women long before this one.

There are probably a dozen different women telling a part of th
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✰ Aileen ✰
I have sung of death and of life, of joy and of pain.
I have sung of life after death.
And I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows.
I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold. I have picked up the old stories and I have shaken them until the hidden women appear in plain sight. I have celebrated them in song because they have waited long enough. Just as I promised him: this was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. A war does not ignore half
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Emma
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A straightforward and light narrative retelling with an episodic structure that works against emotional connection and can't escape the lure of male voice/action. Disappointing.


ARC via Netgalley

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BrokenTune
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5*

Calliope:

Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung.
I have sung of armies and I have sung of men.
I have sung of gods and monsters, I have sung of stories and lies.
I have sung of death and of life, of joy and of pain.
I have sung of life after death.
And I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows.
I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold.
I have picked up the old stories and I have shaken them until the hidden women appear in plain sight.
I have celebrated them in song because they
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Marquise
Not as terrible as her Oedipan retelling, but Haynes' take on the Trojan War has the same issues as the former, starting with her repeated mistake that in wanting to retell a Greek myth in a more modern mindset-friendly redo, she ends up missing the point of the original. In this case, the reason for the Achaeans going to war with Troy is absurd to the point of unbelievability. I don't mind that they shift the traditional blaming it on Helen for a different casus belli in retellings, it can be d ...more
Hugh
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize 2020
I am a little undecided about this one, perhaps because there have been so many recent novels that are reworkings of Greek myths, and to stand out is becoming more difficult. I admired Haynes' idea, to explore the women whose roles in the myths were either minor or unwritten, but because she chose such a diverse set, for me the whole thing lacked a sense of overall narrative purpose. I did like some of the chapters quite a lot, and as a non-classicist I don'
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Louise
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: retellings, mythology, arc
** is a heap of melting goop on the floor **

I think A Thousand Ships might be the book my little mythology nerd heart has anyways been waiting for.

The book covers the lead-up, duration and aftermath of the Trojan War, but is told entirely from the point-of-view of the women: queens, slaves, goddesses, nymphs, winners and losers (although, there’s a lot more of the later. There are some very familiar faces, like Helen, Penelope, Aphrodite and Hera, but there’s also a lot of lesser-known women, wi
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Henny
3.5

When a war was ended, the men lost their lives. But the women lost everything else.

A very refreshing but still ordinary retelling of the Trojan War, its aftermath and the events that led up to it. I liked the format of the story: giving a lot of women a voice - be it Trojan women like Cassandra or Andromache, goddesses or a whole bunch of other women - and therefore get a lot of different perspectives on the war. But at the same time that was my issue with it: there were simply too many pers
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Neil
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
If he truly wants to understand the nature of the epic story I am letting him compose, he needs to accept that the casualties of war aren’t just the ones who die. And that a death off the battlefield can be more noble (more heroic, if he prefers it that way) than one in the midst of fighting. But it hurts, he said when Creusa died. He would rather her story had been snuffed out like a spark failing to catch damp kindling. It does hurt, I whispered. It should hurt. She isn’t a footnote, she’s a p ...more
Iset
Round two. I read Natalie Haynes’ book retelling the Oedipus myth a couple of years ago, and for various reasons I didn’t enjoy it (mainly, deviating so far from the myth that I didn’t think it even qualified as Oedipus any more, and making the civil war between the two princes into an overly childish shouting match). But I’ve often said that I’m reluctant to blacklist an author on the basis of one bad book – maybe they just had a dip, or that one book didn’t gel with me. Two books, however, and ...more
marta
Feb 24, 2021 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: back-in-time
I made it about 20% and it's great but I need to re-visit at a better time :) ...more
Eddie Clarke
On a good, generous day: three stars. This is a harsh day. I’m sorry people - mansplaining ahead. Avoid if necessary!

There is much in Haynes’s approach that I like. The book is energetically written with some nice touches - her humour is phenomenal; it’s a real strength. I like that she is telling the stories of all the women in the Trojan legend to give an alternative angle on the war. I like that she jump-cuts around in the chronology. These aspects are very reminiscent of Bernadine Evaristo’s
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Colleen Fauchelle
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I did like reading this story. I had learnt about the trojan war when I was at primary school. So this story starts with the city of Troy on fire and it is told by the top women from both sides of the war. The woman of Troy go from having it all to become slaves and some will loose their lives.
The Greek woman are waiting for their husbands return after many years away. Some will be pleased to have their husbands home and one will plot her husbands death.

To start with each chapter felt like a s
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Katie.dorny
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Arc provided in exchange for an honest review.

It seems that retellings may just not be for me, I enjoy them all but I’ve never been blown away like other readers.

The woman detailed here are from both sides of the war, from all levels of society. Their perspectives are written intimately and poetically; but nothing immersed me the way I was expecting it to.

This book was also incredibly similar to the silence of the girls by Pat Barker - no new ground was tread and even the writing styles were ve
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Natalie Haynes, author of THE FURIES (THE AMBER FURY in the UK), is a graduate of Cambridge University and an award-winning comedian, journalist, and broadcaster. She judged the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and was a judge for the final Orange Prize in 2012. Natalie was a regular panelist on BBC2’s Newsnight Review, Radio 4’s Saturday Review, and the long-running arts show, Front Row. She is a guest c ...more

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“It does hurt, I whispered. It should hurt. She isn't a footnote, she's a person. And she - all the Trojan women - should be memorialised as much as any other person.” 20 likes
“But this is a women's war, just as much as it is the men's, and the poet will look upon their pain - the pain of the women who have always been relegated to the edges of the story, victims of men, survivors of men, slaves of men - and he will tell it, or he will tell nothing at all. They have waited long enough for their turn.” 19 likes
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