The story of Troy speaks to all of us - the kidnapping of Helen, a queen celebrated for her beauty, sees the Greeks launch a thousand ships against the city of Troy, to which they will lay siege for ten whole years. It is a terrible war with casualties on all sides as well as strained relations between allies, whose consequences become tragedies.
In Troy you will find heroism and hatred, love and loss, revenge and regret, desire and despair. It is these human passions, written bloodily in the sands of a distant shore, that still speak to us today.
Stephen John Fry is an English comedian, writer, actor, humourist, novelist, poet, columnist, filmmaker, television personality and technophile. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he has appeared in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing for stage, screen, television and radio he has contributed columns and articles for numerous newspapers and magazines, and has also written four successful novels and a series of memoirs.
Problem with reading books about Troy or Trojan War is that you begin the book knowing that there are no happy endings for a single character involved. It's impossible to pick a favorite side, so everything always comes down to a lose-lose situation. I was actually surprised to see Fry go such a tragedy, breaking away from his usual light, and funny short-stories.
"All things, Troy included, begin and end with ZEUS."
But it was obvious from the beginning that Fry had other ideas rather than narrating the well-know war story. More than half of the book is used for establishing the key players, along with their back-stories, and that's where we come across our highly anticipated dose of humor. The author describes each backstory with his usual enthusiasm, bringing that enjoyable narrative once more.
"Some people are constitutionally unable to learn from their mistakes.
But the major change most readers would notice here lies with the flow of main plotline. For the first time in this series, we are moving along a single storyline. It's no longer a collection of short-stories, but a gradual, organized build-up towards the Trojan war. I believe that made the reading experience much more immersive compared to Mythos and Heroes. As always, a highly enjoyable read.
Greek mythology - few things are as epic as the stories of Herakles’ deeds, Odysseus’ wits, or Achilles’ prowess. And here, we get one of THE most famous tales: the rise and fall of Troy.
Troy, the jewel of the Aegean Sea. Ruled by Priam, defended by Hector, but ultimately doomed by Paris. In this book, Stephen Fry once again proves his talent in not only knowing every detail of the source material but of also cunningly choosing what is interesting and important and what would be too repetitive or killing the reader with boredom (anyone having read The Iliad will know what I mean).
We follow different stories that explain how Troy came to be ruled by Priam (in fact, how Priam came to his name) - and who would have thought that Herakles had a lot to do with that?! - and are introduced to everyone who will become important in the actual battle for Troy.
Naturally, the book tells of the most famous bits, such as Paris’ judgement with the apple or the abduction of Helen. However, Fry also makes sure to include lesser known facts such as the Nubians and Amazons coming to help Troy at one point or that Troy wasn’t destroyed once but twice (the first time by Herakles). And, of course, no Greek myth would be complete without a host of idiot gods meddling and making even more of a mess of things. Thus, there is heroism, naivité, stupidity, cowardice, cunning, strength, cruelty, arrogance and every other possible vice and virtue imaginable.
It was honestly refreshing to have the story somewhat streamlined without that diminishing the intricate tapestry this great epic tale weaves or its colorfulness. The author’s dry humor only added to the enjoyment (yes, I have both the hardcover and audiobook that is narrated by Fry himself).
I was gnashing my teeth whenever Paris was in the picture, I despaired at Priam wrongfully meaning so well with everyone (even the ones who didn’t deserve it), I wanted to punch Agamemnon from dusk ’til dawn, slap Helen until she got her senses back, and teach a number of these „grown men“ some manners. Moreover, my heart was bleeding for Andromache, Cassandra, Breseis and what must have been done to the survivors after the trick with the horse had been played and the city had been taken. Yes, the author is kind of glossing the worst of it over, but so many others have done it before him, too, so I can’t fault him for that - it’s the curse of a vivid imagination that everything inside me cramps up nevertheless because we all know how terrible humans can be and have been to one another.
It’s the mark of a wonderful story as well as an equally wonderful way of telling said wonderful story if you know exactly what will happen and yet find yourself at the edge of your seat when re-reading it. This is exactly what happened to me here.
Now all that’s left for me to do is hoping that Stephen Fry will also write his summary of the Odyssey!
Stephen Fry's retellings of the Greek myths and epics resonate with the educator, parent, and hopefully, someday grandparent in me. While I thoroughly enjoyed Mythos and Heroes, Troy is my favorite in the series thus far. Fry uses Homer, Ovid, and Virgil as his sources. In addition to the Illiad, the book includes the stories of The Judgement of Paris, the Birth of Achilles, the Abduction of Helen, the Trojan Horse, and the sack of Troy.
Fry's writing is lively and witty. He captures the nuance of character and the pathos of war. I listened to him read the audio version of the text and was transported in time and place. At times, the listening experience was magical.
As I listened, I kept thinking about the text's potential for reaching young adults and expanding their interest in reading in general and in the classics. Unfortunately, it's been close to twenty years since I last read Homer in the original. Nevertheless, Troy has inspired me to revisit Homer. Does anyone have recommendations for new translations or oral readings of the original??
I saw TROY on NetGalley and jumped at getting to read one of Stephen Fry’s Trilogy. Last year at the virtual Hay Festival in Wales (thank you Richard) I had the opportunity to hear the author read an excerpt of his book and delighted at his storytelling as well as his voice.
Stephen Fry’s TROY is a retelling of the 10 year epic battle of the Trojan War. Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Menelaus, Helen of Sparta, Hector of Troy, and Paris are portrayed in all their glory as the heroes or villains that they are. Told in an easily understood prose, TROY is intense and humorous. Fry’s footnotes are witty and not to be missed! I loved the parts the Gods played in their favorites’ lives to help them when they could or to cause mayhem for others. It was very hard to put this book down. Unforgettable…
Fry is a master storyteller. His prose is lovely. Having not yet read his first two books MYTHOS and HEROES, it didn’t matter whether #3 TROY was where I started. I have MYTHOS waiting for me on Audible and can’t wait to listen to Stephen Fry as the narrator.
News is that the author will be publishing a #4 titled THE ODYSSEY in 2022…
5 out of 5 stars
Many thanks to NetGalley, Chronicle Books, and Stephen Fry for the ARC of TROY in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this take on the Illiad, but let me say exactly HOW and WHY I loved it.
Of course, there are much more detailed and complex analyses of the work. There are probably dozens if not a hundred different translations and fanboys *scholars* who can tell you things like how much wood was used to make the horse.
This is not that.
It is, however, a work that strikes a very wonderful balance between erudition and an unproblematic focus on the most important characters, but it explains everything in an easy voice often punctuated with wry humor. This is Fry, after all, and he's nothing if not charming and often wry.
And this is the greatest gift of this book. The readability.
I'll be honest. I've often loved to read the Illiad itself and have enjoyed a great number of side stories by other greats (like Shakespeare) or retellings by modern novelists, but however good these are, few come truly close to the grandeur of the original. And the original, (or at least the English translation I'm always reading,) has a very annoying (to me) feature of lists, lists, lists, lists and more lists. Do I get tired of names after names after names? Sadly, yes, I do. Genesis (book, not group) also gives me a headache. :)
Fry has a wonderful way of SKIPPING that and directing our attention to the most important bits. I LOVE that.
I totally recommend this. It's probably a bit more readable than any other book of its type. :)
The rise and fall of Troy told by Stephen Fry, in his unparalleled wit and verve. He's really some charming guy.
Like I've said before, I had not been very well-read (still ain't) nor particularly interested in Greek mythology. But with Mythos Stephen Fry did pique my interest.
Nevertheless, it was again a struggle to keep all the characters and their relationships straight. For someone relatively new to the material these are challenging books. But Fry knows that, and does a good job of both directing your attention to where it is best used and also never giving you the feeling of being stupid, just because you can't remember all of the names and stories. Where he feels it is necessary he gives you a short reminder, so I never really felt lost.
I still doubt that I will remember much of it. It's just too much information. But it is nevertheless a very readable and enjoyable book, thanks to Fry's wry humor, capable guidance and charming narrative voice.
Maybe there were a couple too many footnotes. But a lot of them were rather charming as well. So I'll give him a pass.
Certainly a book for a future reread.
Thanks to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and in no way influenced by the aforementioned.
“When she fell, a hole opened in the human world that may never be filled, save in memory. Poets must sing the story over and over again, passing it from generation to generation, lest in losing Troy we lose a part of ourselves.”
Stephen Fry relies upon various sources in compiling this comprehensive volume that begins with the origins and foundations of the city of Troy (mythical, historical and geographical) and proceeds to paint a picture of the immortal and mortal forces that lead to the events that ultimately result in the Trojan War.
“When the gods play so deep a part in our affairs, we should count ourselves cursed.”
Homer’s Iliad ends with Hector’s funeral, however, Stephen Fry continues the story to include the Trojan Horse and the defeat and sacking of Troy in the hands of the Achaeans. Though Stephen Fry does not go into much detail in the looting and plundering that followed he does leave us with this, “No matter how much you side with the Greeks and cheer for Odysseus, Menelaus, and the rest, you cannot but be moved to deep sorrowing pity by the plight of Troy and its citizens. We know how brutal soldiers can be. Years of homesickness, hardship, and the loss of comrades while under the constant danger of life-threatening injury harden the heart and stifle the small voice of mercy. We know how the Red Army, for example, raped, looted, and murdered their way into Berlin in 1945. How cruelly British troops tortured and mutilated rebels rounded up after the Indian Mutiny. What the American army did at My Lai in Vietnam. Whatever country we are from, and however proud we may be of our national claims to tolerance, honor, and decency, we cannot dare assume that armies fighting under our flag have not been guilty of atrocities quite as obscene as those perpetrated by the ravening Greeks that night.”
Stephen Fry is a masterful storyteller, and while these stories are not new to anyone, Stephen Fry makes these stories accessible to anybody and everybody who is yet to read the classics themselves. Added to the stories are Stephen Fry’s witty take on the characters and events as well as contemporary references and trivia interspersed throughout the narrative. The featured classical artwork inspired by these stories is stunning. I also enjoyed the segment on Myth vs. Reality towards the end of the book. The discussion about the research into the historical elements of the myths and disputes revolving around the same was very well presented.
“The point really is that with myth we can sift and sort details of personality, archaeology, and origins as we would with real lives and histories, yet simultaneously accept and embrace supernatural and symbolic elements of fiction and magic.”
With so many retellings of the Greek myths available to us these days, one might think that yet another one would be redundant or repetitive. I feel that’s not the case because while the source material and the characters remain the same, it is interesting to see how the author presents, interprets and adds dimension to the characters in question. It is also interesting to see which stories or characters the author chooses to present to the audience. There are so many to choose from. Stephen Fry has done a commendable job in presenting us with his selection of the stories from the myths - the immortals, the mortals and their exploits, while adding his own brand of wit, humor and wisdom.
While Mythos remains my favorite of the three books in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed Troy, Stephen Fry’s third installment in his retelling of the Greek myths. As with the previous two books, I paired my reading with Stephen Fry’s audio narration which makes for an entertaining experience. Having listened to all the three in the series over the last month, I now have Stephen Fry’s voice lodged in my head and whenever I read (and whatever I read), I hear Stephen Fry (not that I’m complaining)!
I look forward to reading (and listening to) Stephen Fry’s Odyssey. If the last three books are anything to go by, I’m sure it will be well worth the wait!
This is now October and the limb that I am going out on might might no longer be as fragile when I say: THIS COULD BE THE BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN 2022 (and I have read more than 150). I’ll give you more of the reasons at the end of this review.
Stephen Fry assures us: "…no preexisting knowledge of the Greek mythological world is presumed or required for you to embark on Troy. As I remind you from time to time, especially early on in the book, do not think for a minute that you have to remember all those names, places, and familial interrelationships. To give background, I do describe the founding of many different dynasties and kingdoms; but I assure you that, when it comes to the main action, the different threads turn from a tangle into a tapestry."
Fry introduces the city state of Troy, in part, as follows: "Fierce nurse of prophets, princes, heroes, warriors, and poets. Under the protection of ARES, ARTEMIS, APOLLO, and APHRODITE, she stood for years as the paragon of all that can be achieved in the arts of war and peace, trade and treaty, love and art, statecraft, piety, and civil harmony. When she fell, a hole opened in the human world that may never be filled, save in memory."
What this version has “in goodly measure” is Fry’s wit and storytelling abilities. Here is a sample: "“It isn’t right,” said Agamemnon darkly. “She should be marrying me. I am the older and—with all respect—the better man. There are plans afoot. Before long I will have recaptured Mycenae. If Helen were mine, she would find herself queen of the greatest kingdom in the world.” A preposterous claim, Odysseus thought. And yet barked out with a gruff certainty that somehow convinced. “Oh yes,” said Agamemnon, as if sensing Odysseus’s doubt. “My prophet CALCHAS has assured me that great victories lie ahead of me. And Calchas is never wrong. I’ve nothing against my brother. Menelaus is a fine fellow, but he is no Agamemnon.”... "“Go on!” said Odysseus, daring to nudge Agamemnon in the ribs. “Marry Clytemnestra! What could possibly go wrong?”" In addition to wit and storytelling we have Fry’s deep research into both the history of Troy, and of this epic tale. You can read this book with or without the footnotes but if you read the footnotes, you will find yourself in quite a different place than the “conventional” translations of Homer put you.
Aside from what I have stated as opinion, I am not sure I have any unique insights to offer. I will place below several additional quotations that attempt to show the fullness of this magnificent creation.
Drama - "You’re a big fellow, Ajax, and very strong, but our most valuable asset? I don’t think so.” Odysseus’s smiling modesty was more than Ajax could bear. He stormed from the meeting, leaving behind a stunned and sorrowful silence. “Dear me,” said Odysseus. “What a pity. I’ve always liked Ajax, you know. My deputy Eurylochus will stop by to transfer the armor to my ship. I’ll see you all for supper later on?” Ajax, meanwhile, stamped off to his tent, convinced that he had been deliberately snubbed and insulted."
Epic clashes of characters - "But it was the theft of his baby son Nicostratus and, above all—above everything in the world—the abduction of his beloved Helen, wife and queen, that struck Menelaus like a thunderbolt from Zeus. Agamemnon roared with fury. For him this was not a personal loss but something far worse—a slight, an insult, an act of contemptuous provocation and betrayal carried out in what Agamemnon regarded as his fiefdom, his Peloponnese. “I had heard that King Priam was wise,” he thundered. “I had heard he was honorable. Report lied. He is neither. He is dishonorable. In rousing Agamemnon he has proved himself to be a fool.” The King of Mycenae was the kind of man who did not mind referring to himself in the third person. A great horn, metaphorical not real, was sounded around the kingdoms, provinces, and islands of Greece. The kings, warlords, clan chiefs, princelings, generals, nobles, landowners and hangdog hopefuls who had gathered in Sparta for Helen’s hand and sworn to defend and honor her marriage were now called upon to make good their pledge."
Observations on human nature - "The vulnerability, the flaw that every human has recalls the first Achilles heel. Every great champion ever since, in war and in sport, has been a miniature of Achilles, a simulacrum, a tiny speck of a reminder of what real glory can be. He could have chosen for himself a long life of tranquil ease in obscurity, but he knowingly threw himself into a brief, dazzling blaze of glory. His reward is the eternal fame that is both priceless and worthless. In our world all athletes know that their years are short; they understand too that they have to be mean, passionate, merciless, and unrelenting if they wish to rise to their own kind of lasting fame. Achilles will always be their patron and their guardian divinity."
History - "He didn’t strip right down. It wasn’t until the mid-eighth century BC that full nudity became compulsory for athletic events. An idea introduced by the Spartans, probably. Gumnos is the Greek word for naked—hence “gymnasium,” a place in which to be naked. Modern gym management insists on a modicum of clothing these days and won’t listen to any arguments about the real origins of the word—I’ve given up trying and usually wear at least a little shred of something when I work out these days."
”A thunderbolt might blast an enemy to atoms, but love’s dart can bring down whole kingdoms and dynasties.”
I wasn’t too sure what to expect going into this- whether it would be another Iliad retelling or more. In this Stephen Fry takes the reader through important family lines of the Iliad, the abduction of Helen of Sparta, the events encountered in the Iliad, as well as Troy’s downfall.
In this Stephen Fry does much more than retell the Iliad, he has included the Homeric Hymns (which recount build up/downfall of Troy) and the beginning of Virgil’s Aenid, as well as using some of the tragedies by Euripides and Aeschylus.
Maybe as I read a translation of the Iliad not too long ago, I wasn’t fully invested in this retelling. I did however enjoy the inclusion of the Homeric Hymns, especially Achilles encounter with Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons (my favourite part).
I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Mythos and Heroes by the same author, so hence the rating. I enjoyed this but didn’t love it.
I read Mythos and enjoyed it, listened to Heroes and loved it, listened to Troy and enjoyed it. A great first three instalments, with what I believe is only one more to come. When The Odyssey is released, I will most definitely carry on following Stephen Fry's masterful narration for the retelling of one of the most epic, most return journeys of all time.
Troy is a story that I believe we all know, and it is probably because of that that I did not love this. But, despite reading countless retellings of this tale, I still thoroughly enjoyed this version, and I believe that is testament unto itself.
Does exactly what it says on the back, covering the story of Troy and its ultimate downfall. We have the beautiful Helen, the wooden horse, the bickering God's. We have a million characters and family trees (Fry even notes that there's literally no point trying to remember everyone's names and families) and the famous Achilles. I will say that this ends very abruptly. We have the sacking of Troy, and that's it. We have no comeuppance for Agamemmnon, no conversations with the women of Troy. I can understand why - this is purely Troy's story and that's it, but I would have liked a bit of closure other than the utterly depressing depiction of a sacked city and thousands of enslaved people.
I do hope that Fry covers Odysseus' journey home to Penelope, because I genuinely enjoy his writing and witty bits of dialogue. He brings a certain theatre to the story that I find is sometimes lacking in the dry depiction of war and battle.
I enjoyed this one but probably not for the prime reason Mr Fry wrote it. It was the wee footnotes that educated me on the roots of so many words in English and other bits of trivia that I found most interesting. I also enjoyed the gentle, wry humour. I think the subject matter limits it to anything more than 3 stars - the story of Troy is so well known I would imagine its difficult to write anything fresh about it. So, enjoyable but not remarkable. Recommended if you cant face reading the 300 pages of Arseus son of Elboeus slayed Bignosuamenmon brother-in-law twice-removed of Cornplasterus with a big pointy copper spear that is the Illiad.
“We achieve immortality not through ambrosia and ichor but through history and reputation. Through statues and epic song.”
After reading and absolutely adoring both Mythos and Heroes, I was like a child at Christmas when I saw this at the bookstore where I work. My excitement only rose when I saw that it was about the Illiad and Troy. And of course, no surprise there, Stephen Fry's newest installment to his Great Mythology series was brilliant.
If you're not familiar with the events of the Illiad, first of all, under which rock have you been hiding? The legendary story where Helen of Sparta, the most beautiful woman in the world, is kidnapped by Paris of Troy, and therefor begins a great war which takes place over ten years. We are introduced to legendary names like Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus and all the meddling gods, as well as the horrors of war.
Since Fry himself narrates the audiobook, I chose to read it that way, and I can not recommend it enough. The author not only writes this epic with humour and warmth, but he also does such an amazing job giving life to his characters through his narration. I especially loved the way he portrayed the king of kings, Agamemnon - he made him seem like a sulken brat, which I found extremely funny. Stephen Fry navigated the intricate and often confusing web that is the greek legends with much skill and care.
The only thing I found myself missing was more of the tragic relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, which might be because I love The Song of Achilles. Fry did mention that it might have been romantic, but I did feel that it was a bit down-played, which doesn't really make sense since the author himself is gay.
“Forget him. What is treasure? Or Briseis, or honor, or anything? Next to the life of the one I loved best and dearest? My beloved, my only Patroclus.”
Besides that, I really felt that Troy ticked all the boxes for me, even if Mythos is still my favorite out of this series; which is mostly due to the fact that I am obsessed with divinities and their affairs. I really do hope that Stephen Fry continues writing these books, and maybe even delves into other myths. I will devour them all.
"We achieve immortality not through ambrosia and ichor but through history and reputation. Through statues and epic song."
The third volume of Fry’s Great Mythology series covers the events that led to the founding, the siege, and the ultimate fall of Troy, drawing mostly from Homer’s Iliad, but other sources as well. It is an accessible, captivating and surprisingly complete (if sometimes rushed) retelling of our greatest epic story, told with Fry’s usual and palpable passion for Greek Mythology, albeit noticeably less wit than the previous installments—I guess that a tragic, decade-long war doesn’t provide too much comedic material.
The thing about Fry is that he knows his stuff and likes to give a full picture, but he also knows his audience. The first part consists of dense genealogical/dynastical context, and he warns the reader time and time again not to worry, the most important parts of this information dump will find a way to stick… but just in case they don’t, the glossary and index of the book make up almost half of it! The exposition may take some resolve to battle through, but after that, Fry is a charming guide who mostly manages to strike a great balance between tangents and simply telling the story we came for. I had my qualms with the footnotes in Heroes, but in Troy, they are almost back their Mythos glory: they are sparse, pertinent, and occasionally offer insight into etymology and idioms, my personal favorites!
It turns out that just like the ones featured in Heroes, the Achaean and Trojan heroes in this story have generous helpings of petty and ignoble qualities as well. The long and epic story of Troy involves a vast cast of characters that are often hard to keep apart, but Fry does a great job at turning the main players into well-rounded, three-dimensional characters that will have you root for either side at different points in the story. Indeed, the strongest parts of the book are not the straight-up retellings of Homer, but the beginning and end, in which Fry had to do some impressive patch-work in order to let us in on what happened before and after the events covered by the Iliad—and yet it reads like a neat, consistent narrative, which is a praiseworthy accomplishment! I also found the two-part Appendix, which goes into the historical VS mythological evidence of both Troy and Homer himself, to be particularly fascinating; it adds another dimension to the tangle of myth, history, and literature that makes up the story of Troy.
I hope Fry will continue his series. If he does, I assume that the next volume will cover the Odyssey—I was positively obsessed with Odysseus’ return to Ithaca as a child, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be my favorite. And of course, Agamemnon’s and Aeneas’ return journeys after the Fall of Troy would provide even more material…
My other reviews of Stephen Fry's Great Mythology series:
Stephen Fry recounts the war of Troy, beginning with the families of the major players and ending with the sacking of Troy. (The Iliad only covers about a quarter of the story.) His rendition is humorous and very approachable, his narration is brilliant as usual. I knew the story, even if I did not recall every character (there are too many), and it was a lot of fun to experience it in his telling. Whether you know the story or not, this is time well spent - and definitely on audio.
"Zeus sighed heavily. 'I wish, all those years ago, Prometheus hadn't persuaded me to make mankind,' he said. 'I knew it was a mistake.'"
After reading Fry's wonderful book of Greek mythology (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), it was just a matter of time before I got myself a copy of his version of the siege of Troy - and I knew I would love it. Not only because it is easily one of my favorite stories, but because I knew that he loved the subject with such passion and enthusiasm that he would make this classic fresh, entertaining and vivid. Obviously, you can tell from the rating that I was not disappointed.
Anyone interested in the traditional version of the story of the Trojan War but who feels intimidated by the "Iliad" should not hesitate for a minute and pick up a copy of "Troy": all the details are there, all the characters, every great battle and feat of courage retold - but also explained in relation to other elements of the story and other myths, making it the perfect version to put in the hands of Greek mythology newbies. But even old fans of the story, such as myself, will find something wonderful in revisiting the legendary events and seeing it's heroes written in such a human and nuanced way.
From the founding of the city of Troy to the story of the apple of discord, Helen's very unusual conception, Odysseus' schemes, Achilles' tantrums and finally, the majestic trap of the horse: not a detail is missing from this epic story of passion and blood, and Fry's trademark erudite wit paints a bright and lively picture of each chapter.
I can't recommend this enough, especially to fans of Greek mythology or fans of the lovely Mr. Fry.
In Troy, the third volume in his Greek Myths Reimagined series (following on from his bestsellers Mythos and Heroes), Stephen Fry re-tells the complex, timeless and thrilling story of the Trojan War. Fry's narrative is based primarily on the story as related in Homer's The Iliad (c.800BCE), although he also draws on other relevant ancient texts including Aeschylus's The Orestia (c.458BCE), Euripides's Iphigenia at Aulis (c.420BCE), and Virgil's The Aeneid (c.19BCE) together with more modern works such as Chaucer's (c.1380-90) and Shakespeare's (1601) interpretations of the story of Troilus and Cressida. Whether, and to what extent the legend is based on historical events remains a matter for fascinating conjecture between historians, classicists, archaeologists and linguists. For context, the battles upon which the stories are based are believed to have occurred at some point between 1280BCE and 1160BCE, up to 3,300 years ago, during the Bronze age. While I must admit to never having read a translation of The Iliad in its entirety, I came to Troy with a reasonable degree of familiarity with the subject matter, having been fortunate to visit the sites of Mycenae, Sparta and Troy myself some years ago and having subsequently studied The Orestia. While a basic understanding of the story and knowledge of the major players are useful, I believe that Fry's Troy would also provide an entertaining, comprehensive and readable opportunity for those readers not already familiar with the legends. To summarise the plot, Paris, an impetuous prince of Troy (a prosperous city-state located on what is now Turkey's northern Aegean coast), visits the Mycenean city-state of Sparta (on modern Greece's Peloponnesian peninsula) and abducts (either willingly or not) the queen, Helen, who is renowned as the most beautiful woman in the world. Helen's aggrieved husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, assembles an expeditionary force, led by his brother, King Agamemnon of Mycenae and featuring legendary heroes including Odysseus of Ithaca, Achilles and Ajax, who together set out with a flotilla of 1,000 ships to invade Troy and bring Helen home to Sparta. Priam, King of Troy, supported by his heroic son Hector and various Ethiopian, Macedonian and Amazon allies, holds off the invasion for 9 years before a final decisive series of battles and the rather inventive use of a large wooden horse bring the conflict to a bloody conclusion. Meanwhile, the Olympian gods, who initiated the series of events in the first place, can't resist but take sides and interfere at various points during the hostilities. As Fry rightly points out in his introduction, both the chronology and the enormous cast of interrelated characters can be bamboozling for readers. I much appreciated the explanatory map, timeline and list of characters in this regard. The book is illustrated with many photographic images of works of art inspired by the story. While I read Troy in the cumbersome protected PDF format for review, I would strongly recommend reading this book in physical form, for ease of reference back and forth. Troy is an engrossing, well-written and (at times) wryly amusing re-telling of a classic tale of human passions, hubris, endeavour and heroism. I can recommend it highly to all readers, from middle grades and up, with an interest in history, myth, adventure, human nature or who seek simply a rollicking good read. My thanks to the author, comedian-presenter-polymath Stephen Fry, publisher of this US hardcover edition, Chronicle Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this wonderful title.
I love Stephen Fry. I love learning about Greek Mythology. The two combined? A match made in Olympus!
I must say, Mythos has been my favourite book of Fry's so far, but that does not take-away from my love of his other books (particularly those of the Greek Mythology genre).
I particularly enjoyed Troy for it's unexpected humour! Calchas' predictions (or rather, Agamemnon's reactions to his predictions) were particularly giggle inducing! Agamemnon dubbed Calchas "The Prophet of Evil," and with good reason too. Firstly, Calchas prophesised that the Trojan War would be fought for over 10 years; Not something Agamemnon - As king, and leader of the Achaean army - wanted to hear. Secondly, Calchas prophesised that Iphigenia (Agamemnon's fairest daughter) must be sacrificed to Artemis, to end the ill winds keeping the fleet at anchorage. Thirdly, it transpired that in order to end the pestilence set upon the Achaean camp by Apollo, Agememnon must ransom the kidnapped Chryseis, whom Agememnon deemed to be his possession. It is then understandable that Agememnon was Calchas' biggest sceptic.
All told, I think the tales of Achilles were my favourite sections of the book. I knew little of Achille's before reading Troy, and found the stories enlightening.
Stephen Fry has written a witty, entertaining and amazingly accessible history of the Trojan war. Despite already possessing a deep and detailed knowledge of Greek mythology, which comes from repeatedly watching Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, I really enjoyed this.
3.5 stars. A comprehensive narrative about the lead-up to the lengthy battle of Troy. Stephen Fry is clearly an expert, and I was awed by his ability to weave together so many lineages into a complex and colorful tapestry. His occasional injection of humor - directed to the reader - lightened some of the name-dense sections. On the whole, I enjoyed the read, but prefer a more character-driven telling such as offered by Mary Renault or Madeline Miller.
I have been fascinated by the myths and legends of the Trojan War for as long as I remember. I suppose that now I see Homer's Iliad and Odyssey less of an exciting story full of heroes and combat and more of a lasting and permanent evocation of our shared humanity and , as such, the basis for the art and literature of the Western World.
I have been to Troy and, when you stand amidst the ruins and look outwards towards the sea, it makes Homer's description seem so immediate. Archaeologists have found evidence of several civilisations on the site but there is one Troy that appears to have been destroyed violently at around the right time to the Seige of Troy some historical validity.
It seems that Homer was writing 500 years after the events which he is describing. We are not even sure if 'Homer' was one person. His mastery of narrative and characterisation is matched only by a few great writers and his influence has been all=pervasive. Personally, I am quite happy to subscribe to a Homer who was a blind genius of the kind that come along very rarely. I certainly don't trust the 'committee' theories. After all, whenever did a committee produce a work of creative genius?
Stephen Fry is well-known in the UK and further afield as a comedian, presenter, author, actor and the closest we have to a modern -day Renaissance Man. Whether it be Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster, QI, Fry and Laurie, Wilde or many other shows and films, I am sure you will all recognise him from something. His great skill in this retelling is that he has a sure grasp of the source material which he combines with a very direct and amusing style of writing. He enjoys showing the very human frailties of these very heroic figures. So this is not a difficult book and has appeal for those who are new to these stories as well as to those who know and love them well.
This is Stephen Fry's third book of classical retellings , Mythos and Heroes were the first two, and I suspect we will see a fourth based on The Odyssey.
Фрай с каждым новым томом все лучше и лучше. Это уже настоящий роман, во многих отношениях круче и богаче "Войны и мира", конечно, потому что генетическая культурная прошивка у нас оттуда, а вовсе не от Толстого. Теперь ждем "Одиссею" (а я еще и "Энеиду" хочу, и дальше...)
Няма изненада в такъв случай, че “Троя” на Стивън Фрай бе чакана с нетърпение, макар че не се нахвърлих веднага на нея – беше си бурно, изпълнено с изненади лято, а исках спокойствието да се насладя още веднъж на любимата история, преразказана от един изключителен майстор. Вече знаех какво да очаквам – “Митове” от него силно ме впечатли, а след нея и за “Герои” не съм чул лоша дума. А и историите от двете книги имат своето биещо сърце – и то е именно в обсадата на Троя. Прекрасно впечатление ми направиха щателните авторови бележки, които са надежден ориентир в изключително сложната гръцка митология, а препратките към предните две книги изплитат паяжина, в която всяко действащо лице в настоящия том има и своята предистория – или алтернативна история, според случая, в края Фрай описва главоблъсканицата, която е опитът всички стигнали до нас митове да бъдат обединени в строен и хронологичен разказ.
Excellent retelling of the story of the Trojan War. This book tells the whole story, bringing together many stories and plays written in different ages by different writers on the subject of Troy, Fry brings them all together neatly.
A large part of the book is spent on the causes and preparation of the war, the creation of Troy and all myths surrounding it. Which heroes were present and why, and which God and Goddess supported which side. All very interesting and it prepares the reader well for the second part of the book, everything that happens during the war, in the Iliad and the aftermath. Fry’s writing style is witty and eloquent, as always.
Fry's trilogy about Greek Mythology has been really good, but I liked this book the most. The Trojan War has always been my favorite piece of Greek Mythology, and this is an excellent retelling of the complete story, a joy to read.