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A Thousand Ships

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,176 ratings  ·  237 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 Trojans
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published May 2nd 2019 by Mantle
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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
Emer (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
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
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
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 its long and drawn out aftermath, all told from the womens 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
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 Homers 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
Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)
*Rated 4.5/5 stars!
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. ...more
Mar 09, 2020 marked it as abandoned-on-hold
I dont think I can let go of Pat Barkers delightful The Silence of the Girls long enough to let this one in. Look, this is fine ... I should probably finish it, but I realise I am just going through the motions here.

Yet another historical fiction bites the dust.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
** 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, theres a lot more of the later. There are some very familiar faces, like Helen, Penelope, Aphrodite and Hera, but theres also a lot of lesser-known women,
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 ...more
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
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 Ive 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
"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 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 the people whose lives it touches. So why do we?" Calliope.

Thoroughly enjoyed this women's
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Natalie Haynes retells the Iliad using a chorus of female perspectives, from goddesses to slaves, including practically every woman named in the epic and a few who arent. It therefore invites comparison with The Silence of the Girls and Circe, both of which also re-centre Homeric epics on women. Haynes is in a sense the most ambitious of the three, as she includes the widest range of women rather than focusing on a single or small group of characters. I enjoyed the mosaic effect a lot, ...more
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 ...more
Gumble's Yard
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Im not offering him the story of one woman during the Trojan War, Im offering him the story of all the women in the war. Well, most of them (I havent decided about Helen yet. She gets on my nerves). Im 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 Womens Prize although I had already been drawn to it by: my enjoyment of other female-viewpoint retellings of connected events (such as
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes provides a unique and fresh look at the Trojan War by retelling it from an all-female perspective. With Homers Iliad and his Odyssey, Virgils Aeneid, and several classical Greek plays serving as her inspiration, Haynes gives voice to nearly two dozen females ranging from slaves, wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, nymphs, and goddesses.

With the exception of Calliope, the muse of poetry, who speaks in the first person, and Penelope whose voice is heard in the
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn't expect to be as moved as I was by this - these are old, old stories after all - but Natalie Haynes breathes new life into the Siege of Troy, its causes, and the aftermath. Written from the perspectives of the female characters alone, Haynes questions what heroism is and whose stories are worth recording and remembering.
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
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
Feb 26, 2020 rated it liked it

Because it gave me the opportunity to revisit heroes and stories I read so many times during my childhood that I knew them by heart, I concede that reading Nathalie Haynes A Thousand Ships was fun. Furthermore, the authors idea to tell the events from the womens point of view was interesting enough and could have turned into a great book. I dont say the novel is bad, for it is not, there are parts beautifully written, but somehow along the way it becomes too moralistic, too gossipy, too
Jonathan Pool
A feminist, or at least a female centric, sprint through the main characters (mortals and gods) involved in the siege of Troy by the Greeks. Helen of Troy was the abducted queen who inspired Marlowes famous phrase (and inspired Natalie Hayness book title) "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?.

The book fairly races through the cast of protagonists, and in no less than 43 chapters. At eight pages per chapter its a series of individual stories (of women). The classic telling
Janne Janssens
3.5 ✩

E-book provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sing, Muse, he says, and the edge in his voice makes it clear that this is not a request. (...)
But I am not in the mood to be a muse today.Perhaps he hasn't thought of what it is like to be me.

A Thousand Ships is the umpteeth retelling of the Trojan war, BUT it is the first time I have read a retelling from the perspectives of the women in the story. In
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Thousand Ships is my first Natalie Haynes novel, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Wow, this is a truly majestic and captivating work of historical fiction depicting the plethora of trials and tribulation associated with the Trojan War and is told from an all-female perspective. It's a joy and adds to the feminism and female empowerment around at the moment in the times of the #metoo movement and demonstrated female awakening. The sense of time and place Ms Haynes evokes is vivid and ...more
Cinzia DuBois
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm terribly sad to give this book such a low rating because I'm such a huge fan of Natalie Haynes (I've travelled around the country to hear her talk on several occasions, she's an incredible woman), but this was not what I'd hoped it would be.

So, the premise of retelling the Trojan war from female perspectives isn't new, and I've read a lot of classical retellings, but this was one of the weakest I've ever read due to the lack of authorial imagination. The retelling was probably the most
Jenny Cooke (Bookish Shenanigans)
A similar premise to The Silence of the Girls but is actually about the women and not Achilles. Really loved this, one of my favourite Greek myth retellings.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Incredible. Rtc!
Anna Baillie-Karas
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Its the Greek myth re-telling Ive been waiting for. Has the tone and sensibility of the classics so places you in the scene, and characters feel true to the myths (with all the drama ), but Haynes brings humour and a feminist perspective.

It works on many levels: as a great epic novel - with war, sea nymphs and a family wedding (for a classics novice), or seeing the myths afresh if you know them.

I enjoyed this more than Circe and Silence of the Girls - it has more suspense and
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
This takes time to build up, but so worth it, it tells the tale through different female perspectives of The Trojan War rather than just one like some other books, you get to see many sides and points of view. A well written book, with many important messages about strength, feminism, war , there are so many important messages you can take from this. Its a powerful read and will stay with you long after you close the book.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest
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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 BBC2s Newsnight Review, Radio 4s Saturday Review, and the long-running arts show, Front Row. She is a guest ...more

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96 likes · 44 comments
“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.” 4 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.” 4 likes
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