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The Fall of Troy

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  528 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
In The Fall of Troy, acclaimed novelist and historian Peter Ackroyd creates a fascinating narrative that follows an archaeologist's obsession with finding the ruins of Troy, depicting the blurred line between truth and deception.Obermann, an acclaimed German scholar, fervently believes that his discovery of the ancient ruins of Troy will prove that the heroes of the Iliad, ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Anchor (first published 2006)
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Archaeology in support of poetry
Truth informed solely by belief
Mythology as foundation for worldview

DAMN...this is crazy, unique, and beautiful story.

19th century archaeology may frame this novel, and the ruins of the ancient city of Troy may color it, but those elements don’t begin to describe this book. This work is a sonnet honoring headstrong, unrestrained human passion and the seductive obsession of personal truth over objective facts. That, plus a lush, lyrical stroll through the pages
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It felt like flying, may be because I practically read it in the course of two medium-length flights.

As there are many good reviews of this book, I will not extend myself too much.

Ackroyd is a master teller. He polishes the fascination that his amateur archeologist Heinrich Obermann (a.k.a. Henrich Schliemann) feels for anything Homeric to a degree of brilliance that it naturally reflects back from Obermann himself. Those people living around him, or visi
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: text book archaeologists and sofa time travellers
As a practising archaeologist, I'm automatically drawn, like an old moth to an archaic flame when it comes to historical fiction dealing with the pursuit of archaeology. It's like a sickness but I can't stop reading this kind of book. The fixation started with River God by Wilbur Smith and continued with The Seventh Scroll and it has since been born out by Agatha Christie, latterly by Peter Ackroyd and by cinematic greats such as Indiana Jones and the slightly less great "Mummy" series.

The purs
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: romantics
Recommended to Mark by: Shovelmonkey1
You know how as you read a novel you will often get a picture of one of the characters in your head and after that all evidence to the contrary will have to be subsumed into your image no matter how much mental gymnasticing that might involve. Here, for me, was a classic case in point. The main character, a german archaeologist called Obermann, had the misfortune of resembling in my head the author picture of Peter Ackroyd on the inside cover of my copy. This meant every scene was played through ...more
Roger Brunyate
A Glorious Rogue

Heinrich Schliemann discovered Troy, that much I knew. I had always assumed him to be some dusty nineteenth-century German professor, treading in the footsteps of the illustrious Goethe. But no. As I now see from Wikipedia, he was a wealthy amateur, opportunist, and rogue. He was German born, yes, but worked mostly in Russia and America, where he became an American citizen; he was a polylinguist, speaking fourteen languages at the time of his death. He made his first million, pos
BAM The Bibliomaniac
2.5 stars
A very greedy man takes a young lady just discovering life as his wife just to exploit her mind and talents on an archeological dig at Troy
He takes and takes until he breaks everything including himself
A moral tale of what selfishness can destroy
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: archaeology
This is not another novel about the Trojan War and its aftermath. This was a suspenseful novel about the archaeological excavations of the 19th century; Heinrich Obermann was a thinly-disguised Heinrich Schliemann. This was a fascinating book; it begins with the marriage of Herr Obermann with a young Greek girl, Sophia, many years younger than he. They travel to Hissarlik, where Obermann feels the actual Troy has been buried. Sophia helps him in his work: she feels "if she embraced her duties w ...more
Lady Knight
First off, I'm going to admit that there were several times I was ready to give up on this one and only restrained myself as I had no other audiobooks to listen to as I worked.

This really should have been a good read for me as, superficially at least, the book ticked a lot of boxes for me:
Archaeology? Check.
Fictional retelling of real historical figures? Check.
Interesting premise? Check.
Historical setting? Check.
My problem(s)? I hated the characters (and yes I know Obermann is suppossed to be a
This was a lot better than I expected it to be, given it was a random find in a charity shop. The central character, Herr Obermann, is an odd one: unlikeable in his fanaticism, and yet attractive in his dedication to his ideas. The supporting characters are not so vivid, but Sophia has a quiet strength which is very appealing.

The story itself is more suspense and quiet threat than action, really. The dialogue is odd, rather stiff, because Peter Ackroyd seems to make a pretty good attempt at repr
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I rather enjoyed this slim novel. If you've read Homer's Iliad and have any interest, whatsoever, about the historical aspects of the discovery of Troy on the Asia Minor coastline, then this book is for you. Peter Ackroyd does a wonderful job of telling an enthralling tale about the discovery of the ruins of Troy and its initial excavation. His two primary protagonists are rather tightly based upon the German amateur archaeologists, Heinrich Schliemann, and his young Greek wife, Sofia, who disco ...more
Oct 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cathy, Caz, Larry, and others who appreciate good writing
I listened to the Audiobook version, rather than reading this book. There is something of a theatrical quality to this book, and I feel it would make a wonderful film. There is the real sense of inevitability to the story - once the characters have made their decisions the plot thunders inexorably to its conclusion like a Greek tragedy. Michael Maloney, who reads the book, does a wonderful job, and enhances the author's characterisations with his reading. I'm left wondering the extent to which t ...more

Obermann is based on Schliemann. Quirky, however I wasn't that keen on any of the characters.

3* Hawksmoor
4* Shakespeare
1* The Lambs of London
3* The Fall of Troy
4* Chatterton
3* The House of Dr Dee
5* Dickens
2* The Plato Papers
4* Wilkie Collins
Suz Thackston
I really wanted to like this book. I love everything about the Trojan cycle, mythic and historical, and I love the story of that odd brilliant scoundrel, Schliemann. But this book, this writing style, is not grooving with me. Since it's clearly based on Schliemann and Sophia, I don't know why the author coyly renames the main character into something almost the same. I dunno, maybe there are legal reasons, but it comes off as 'Since I'm not using Schliemann's name I can make this seem like a fic ...more
Jack Bates
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I love Peter Ackroyd. This is great, and there are extra bonuses for anyone interested in the history of archaeology, Troy, Homer, etc.
Sep 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Peter Ackroyd is his own Evil Twin. As a literary historian, he is absolutely brilliant; he has written insightful, cogent, and stirring biographies of Blake, More, and Shakespeare, as well as incisive overviews of the intellectual life of London and the history of the English imagination. His biography of Dickens may well be the greatest "non-fiction" book that I have ever read. As a novelist, however, he is (to put it charitably) wildly uneven. He has written the wonderful Milton in America, ...more
Jeremiah Genest
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Ackroyd's intricately plotted little tale, Heinrich Schliemann - the controversial 19th century swindler and fabulist-turned-archaeologist who claimed to have discovered Homer's Troy - becomes the character Heinrich Obermann,who has made an arranged marriage to a young Greek wife, Sophia. Like Schliemann, Obermann has a somewhat sinister cast to his project -- a desire to find physical evidence for racialist theories that the Greeks and Trojans were descended from superior Northern European w ...more
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
I registered a book at!

Not very impressed by The Fall Of Troy. The central character of Heinrich Obermann is the only one who is fleshed out and he is a very unlikeable selfish fantasist, bent on completely destroying a valuable archaeological site in his desperation to make the site fit the demands of his imagination. All the supporting characters are two-dimensional and poorly created so it is difficult to understand their actions an
This is my second try of a Peter Ackroyd novel this year, and I come away with pretty much the same impression as with the first, The Lambs of London: not very substantive. Not that every story I reads needs to be life changing or earth shattering; the substance I'm looking for is a voice, an authorial voice, commanding or charming, distinctive or demanding. Ackroyd's voice (at least in these two selections) seems thin and watery. To apply a much used quote, "There's no there there".

The characte
For the first two thirds of the book I found this really quite slow and a bit of a struggle to stick with (the only reason I was able to keep going was the fact that it was only a couple of hundred pages long and I felt that I would be giving up too easily if I couldn't finish a book that short). The last third of the book was quite a bit better and more interesting. I intend to read more of Peter Ackroyd's books so I hope that this book is not a sign of things to come or the best of them all.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
The Fall of Troy on fantastisia elementtejä hyödyntävä historiallinen romaani myyttisen Troijan kaupungin kaivauksilta. Se kyseenalaistaa hellimämme kuvan antiikin kulttuuriperinnöstä ja kysyy, mikä osuus idealismilla on historiankirjoituksessa. Herkullisen provokatiivinen romaani antiikin, historian ja mytologian ystäville.
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When writers play writer games with their subject, resulting novels seem to beg for a book club to help untangle all the layers of metafiction. And for the most part, I finish these books, and think for a while about how deep it is for the novelist to call into question the truth of the narrative, the truth of truthiness, and the truth that truth is relative. Unfortunately for Peter Ackroyd, this is the third or fourth metafiction book I've read in the last six months, and I'm having a bit of tr ...more
Alice Little
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
It took me a while to get into this book as I found the main characters unlikeable, but about a third of the way through I began to understand that we are meant to find the archaeologists' attitudes funny, and indeed I began to find it amusing, and read to the end very quickly after that, enjoying it.

Well structured, well paced, with a few nice surprises along the way. I enjoyed reading this, though not enough for it to become a favourite.

If you like this sort of subject/approach you might also
May 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Fall Of Troy, Peter Ackroyd explores some grand themes against a backdrop of a grander history, but always from the narrowed view of an obsession that denies experience. The story is set in the early twentieth century, a period of great and fast discovery of ancient sites. It is also a time when archaeology is being transformed from a pastime of those with time on their hands to a science for professionals.

Obermann has his mission, an overbearing, all-consuming obsession that drives him
Frank Dahai
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peter Ackroyd, the London seer, cockney rebel and analyst of cross-dressing trends, has a disturbing tendency to associate land with intention. In his novels and histories of London and England, he often refers to the land as 'working through' its people and usually in a less-than-nice way, as with the murderers of London for example: they didn't do it, the city did. All of this can suggest a highly-unpleasant 'blood and soil' brand of Fascism, lurking under the surface, especially when it comes ...more
Apr 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Readers of Peter Ackroyd will already be familiar with his interest, some might even say preoccupation, with the concept of history. But for Ackroyd, history itself is not a static monument, but rather a perpetually shifting, unstable idea. Those Ackroyd novels I have read involve scholars of one kind or another. Those in pursuit of historical truth often find themselves disconcertingly uncovering aspects of their own lives and identities which they would prefer remain hidden. And though researc ...more
Kristi Richardson
“Archaeology is not a science,” Obermann says. “It is an art.”

I have read many biographies and nonfiction books by Mr. Ackroyd and was excited to try a novel. I am sorry to say I was not as enthralled as I hoped in this particular story. Sophia is a 16-year-old Greek girl who is wooed by the famous Herr Obermann to be his wife. Her family is delighted for her to go off with him to the archaeological site of Troy, which he recently uncovered.

Mr. Obermann is a difficult man to like because he has
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fall of Troy • by Peter Ackroyd

Slow boring to start, but gets better. "Digs" at the battle of Troy site & a poor marriage prospect.

"...follows an archaeologist's obsession with finding the ruins of Troy...Obermann, an acclaimed German scholar, fervently believes that his discovery of the ancient ruins of Troy will prove that the heroes of the Iliad, a work he has cherished all his life, actually existed. But Sophia, Obermann's young Greek wife, has her suspicions about his motivations —
Perry Whitford
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another slight but well researched and highly satisfying novel from Ackroyd, this time a fictionalised account of the life and death of Heinrich Schliemann, the businessman, archaeologist and mountebank who thundered across Greece and Turkey in search of the legendary sites of Homer's Iliad.

Ackroyd's version of Schliemann, called Heinrich Obermann, is both a force of nature and an irascible fraud, utterly determined to make his name whatever he finds in his excavations, ready to fabricate artifa
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I believe Ackroyd did a great job with the research and his use of poetic dialogue was brilliant as well as creating a mystery about "Obermann's" knowledge. That said, it was really hard for me to read it (I forced myself because I love reading about Troy), even at just over 200 pages. Obermann (aka Schliemann, no?) is such an unlikeable character (and I'm sure that is intentional), I found it so hard to want to keep reading what awful thing he may have done next.

Also, I think the title should b
Bookmarks Magazine

The prolific Brit Peter Ackroyd has built his reputation on eclectic, wide-ranging projects that include a dozen novels (such as The Lambs of London, HHHH Sept/Oct 2006) and biographies of Shakespeare, William Blake, Chaucer, and the city of London, among others. The Fall of Troy is a meditation on the siren song of history and a compact, disarming (if ultimately dark) character sketch that explores the limits of belief. The author displays his wit and polymathic interests here, though he cuts t

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Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.

Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age
More about Peter Ackroyd...

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