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The Wanderings of Odysseus

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A master storyteller and an award-winning illustrator evoke the golden age of mythical Greece in this spirited retelling of "The Odyssey."

The long siege is ended. Troy lies in ashes. The black ships of the Greek war-host set sail for home but for King Odysseus of Ithaca, the return voyage holds hazards far greater than any he faced in the Trojan War.

For this dramatic sequel to Black Ships Before Troy, Rosemary Sutcliff has transformed Homer’s magnificent but complex epic poem The Odyssey into an enthralling traveler's tale, with a spectacular cast of men, magicians and monsters. Alan Lee evokes a golden age of mythical Greece in his portrayal of the greatest voyage of all time.

120 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1995

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About the author

Rosemary Sutcliff

143 books586 followers
Rosemary Sutcliff, CBE (1920-1992) 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 was stationed as a naval officer. She contracted Still's Disease when she was very young and was confined to a wheelchair for most of her life. Due to her chronic sickness, she spent the majority of her time with her mother, a tireless storyteller, from whom she learned many of the Celtic and Saxon legends that she would later expand into works of historical fiction. Her early schooling being continually interrupted by moving house and her disabling condition, Sutcliff didn't learn to read until she was nine, and left school at fourteen to enter the Bideford Art School, which she attended for three years, graduating from the General Art Course. She then worked as a painter of miniatures.

Rosemary Sutcliff began her career as a writer in 1950 with The Chronicles of Robin Hood. She found her voice when she wrote The Eagle of the Ninth in 1954. In 1959, she won the Carnegie Medal for The Lantern Bearers and was runner-up in 1972 with Tristan and Iseult. In 1974 she was highly commended for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Her The Mark of the Horse Lord won the first Phoenix Award in 1985.

Sutcliff lived for many years in Walberton near Arundel, Sussex. In 1975 she was appointed OBE for services to Children's Literature and promoted to CBE in 1992. She wrote incessantly throughout her life, and was still writing on the morning of her death. She never married.


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5 stars
521 (30%)
4 stars
599 (35%)
3 stars
403 (23%)
2 stars
120 (7%)
1 star
44 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 196 reviews
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
653 reviews7,022 followers
January 31, 2014

I had picked this one up as a quick refresher (after making the mistake of not reading Iliad along with the original Odyssey reading). It serves that purpose. Some of the translations are even remarkably well rendered. However, it was not too useful as an easy companion to Ulysses since Sutcliff rearranged the structure of the epic completely to make it a linear narrative, which is a huge disservice, both to the epic and to the reader.

All in all, it is a sort of Cliff’s notes with stunning illustrations.

As you can see, this is a good one for the shelves. It would be a good buy just to have that cover - so that you can tease guests if they would like to see a pic of Odysseus and then pull this one out and show the Tattered Traveller!

Profile Image for Superlopez.
30 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2022
La verdad es que lo esperaba peor por lo que me habían contado y visto pero realmente no me ha disgustado.
Es cierto que no es muy buen libro y es un poco raro (porque además hay un lío tremendo con los nombres de los personajes) pero me ha parecido entretenido.
Profile Image for Terri.
495 reviews5 followers
February 10, 2014
As in Black Ships Before Troy, Rosemary Sutcliff writes a story of an epic that many adults are afraid to read for fear of the classics, in a manner that is captivating and understandable. It is by no means dumbed down and yet my children could easily understand the story.

Alan Lee's watercolor illustrations are beautiful and keep the youngest listener sitting quietly to hear the story while seeing the pictures.

The characters and the story are so easy to read that it is an easy transition to pick up Homer's Odysseus and read it.

If you are an adult and have never read Homer's version, I highly recommend reading this for your own enjoyment as well.
Profile Image for Saffron Moon.
166 reviews22 followers
March 10, 2022
Master storyteller Rosemary Sutcliff’s adaptation of Odysseus is her fabulous follow-up to Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of The Iliad. Again her adaptation is accessible to all ages and stays true to it’s source materials. Alan Lee’s illustrations bring incredible beauty and life to the legendary tales. Like the first book in this two book series, this oversized hardcover edition is gorgeous to look at and is quite engaging. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Julia.
265 reviews53 followers
July 16, 2021
An excellent retelling of the Odyssey.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 13 books332 followers
December 3, 2018
My girls and I loved this adaptation to The Odyssey! The illustrations are great and the story is so entertaining and a great introduction to more in depth reading when they're older.

Highly recommended!!!
Profile Image for Sarah.
183 reviews7 followers
March 25, 2019
Rosemary Sutcliff retelling the story of Odysseus as illustrated by Alan Lee. Absolutely nothing that could be improved (obviously)!
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
December 27, 2011
Rosemary Sutcliff's retelling of the Odyssey is, like her retelling of the Iliad, illustrated by Alan Lee. It's gorgeous, just like the first book -- I love the illustration of the Sirens, and Calypso comforting Odysseus, and Ino saving him from the storm... It's lovely.

The story itself is very simple, given that it's aimed at children. It's quite lovely in its simplicity, though; it works very well alongside Alan Lee's illustrations.
Profile Image for Katie.
171 reviews
June 9, 2018
These books are great for introducing Homer to young readers. Jonas really enjoyed them.
Profile Image for Arianna.
102 reviews7 followers
June 16, 2021
no me creo q de vrd me termine este libro, algunos capítulos me aburrieron y otros si que me gustaron.
Profile Image for Amy Edwards.
279 reviews17 followers
December 13, 2017
I love this. I just finished reading this aloud to my younger kids, something I did in tandem with rereading and studying The Odyssey with my older kids. It's nice that Sutcliff tells the tale in chronological order for this age range. The in media res beginning to The Odyssey can be confusing to first time readers. I love introducing the story this way early on, so Homer's wonderful way of weaving the tale is less confusing.
15 reviews
July 27, 2019
I have truly enjoyed Rosemary Sutcliff’s retelling of both The Odyssey and The Iliad. I believe she does a beautiful job of capturing the heart of Homer’s epics while making them accessible to young (and not so young) readers. I am excited to introduce my children to her works.
Profile Image for Michelle Fournier.
284 reviews10 followers
May 27, 2021
Loved this retelling of the Odyssey! I enjoyed this one more than Black Ships From Troy but both are well done and very readable. A great first experience for my 11&12 yo with these great stories.
Profile Image for Joelle Andris.
6 reviews
March 19, 2023
we read this for homeschool a while ago, and it was pretty good:) i don't remember any bad or boring things about it
1,879 reviews13 followers
May 31, 2019
Jacob listened to for AO Y6...krb 5/31/19

Made lots of connections while listening to these stories by Sutcliff..krb 5/31/19
9 reviews4 followers
April 26, 2012
Well, I've already put it aside to give away, if that tells you something. We so enjoyed Black Ships Before Troy, that this came as a great disappointment. The writing didn't captivate in the way the former did. Though, perhaps I'm holding it to an anachronistic standard by expecting the protagonist to be empathetic.

Beyond the fact that you don't really like Odysseus for the first two-thirds of the book, the narrative is unnecessarily graphic. While I acknowledge that the subject matter is grim, it seems possible to convey the idea that the Cyclops ate two shipmates without saying, "He dashed out their brains and swallowed them whole, washing them down with goat's milk." The pictures, with their blood and guts spurting and slain suitors do nothing to help. And, I call into question the necessity of picturing almost every female character topless, despite the lack of support in the text for such suggestiveness. The combination makes the book too mature for its intended young audience, and too simplistic for anyone else.

The one caveat I will make (and the reason I gave it two stars and not one), is that Sutcliff's retelling of leaving Calypso and Odysseus' reunion with Eurycleia are really quite touching. But, there is far too much garbage to wade through to be redeemed by these two moments.
122 reviews4 followers
August 14, 2012
I would not recommend this book to children. Because it has been simplified into plain language, the violent events are depicted in an even more gruesome manner than in the original epic poem, which I feel makes this book inappropriate for children to be reading on their own. In addition, I was not very impressed by the writing in this book. It is choppy and simplistic, written more in summary format than in a fluid narrative, which makes it rather dry and boring, especially during the parts that do not feature action. So, although it is a good introduction to The Odyssey, I would instead choose to wait until my children are old enough to read the story in the original poem form instead of having them read this since the language of the poem is not much more difficult than that used in this retelling, and it will introduce them the story as literature rather than a story.
33 reviews
April 9, 2010
This book is about Odysseus, the mythical king of Ithaca, who has to get home from Troy, but does not know the way. The setting is in Greece, and Odysseus's external conflict, is him dealing with the God's and monsters. Odysseus's internal conflict, is him trying to find home and thinking about his wife and kids.

When Odysseus fights the Cyclops and kills him, it reminds me of when Apollo, the god of music killed the Cyclops for killing his son.

I would give this book 5 stars, because I really love Homer's tales, and this book was a great one. Very interesting and caught my eye. This is how books should be written. I would reccomend this book to anyone who is interested in Greek Mythology.
Profile Image for Ana Encinas.
352 reviews64 followers
April 7, 2018
Las aventuras de Ulises: La historia de la Odisea de Homero, escrito por Rosemary Sutcliff. Una novela con ilustraciones en la que cuenta las aventuras de este personaje tan importante en la mitología, Ulises. No es como me imaginaba que sería la novela pero me ha parecido buena, sin ninguna sorpresa ni altercado. La he disfrutado ya que desde siempre me ha fascinado todo lo relacionado con la mitología griega y los dioses, por lo que no dudé en leerlo para conocer mucho más sobre este tema.
52 reviews2 followers
May 22, 2016
The next time I read a classic, I will try one with a different style. The book is ok, but I don't think it would have become a classic if it had been published today - too straight forward and not enough humor. Told shortly it is a story of a man who always does the right thing, and his journey home from a battlefield, on which he meets several mythological creatures.
678 reviews55 followers
May 29, 2018
My six-year-old loved this book so much that we read it in less than a week. It started slowly, but got really good about halfway through. I think we finished the whole second-half in two days. I enjoyed it a lot too. Illustrations were of course amazing, and Odysseus was an awesome hero. What was considered normal and heroic behavior in other times and places never fails to fascinate me.
Profile Image for Naomi.
268 reviews8 followers
March 21, 2023
Very well done audiobook and retelling of the Odyssey. We've listened to this a number of times over the years now and it does well with repeated listenings.
Profile Image for Valeria.
50 reviews9 followers
May 18, 2021
“Todos ellos habian oído historias y canciones sobre él, como las habían oído sobre héroes antiguos y sobre los mismos dioses.”
Profile Image for Jeremy Manuel.
397 reviews2 followers
January 27, 2021
After finishing Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy I started reading our kids The Wanderings of Odysseus since we've been doing Ancient Greek history. We all enjoyed her version of the Iliad and we were looking forward to this book as well. Now admittedly these are very scaled down versions of the stories, but it makes for a nice read when reading it for younger readers.

Despite being scaled back a bit, the main parts of the story are here. Odysseus is heading back home after the Trojan War, but disaster after disaster befalls him and his crew and it takes him many long years for him to return home. This novel has a lot more fantastical elements in the story. The story of the Iliad has some of these elements, but the Odyssey ramps it up significantly. We see cyclopes, sirens, enchantress, magical lotus flowers, monsters, moving rocks, a trip to the underworld. It's quite an interesting read.

Even when Odysseus manages to survive past all of these trials and dangers, when he returns home he finds his palace filled with suitors trying to marry his wife. They've long thought him dead and want to take Odysseus' throne. So even after arriving home his troubles are still not over.

The Odyssey is a story I was familiar with before reading this book, and I really enjoyed reading it again. This shortened version was great for reading aloud to my kids and they wound up loving the story as well. Like her version of the Iliad, it makes me want to go and read the actual full story.

However, if you're looking for a version of the Odyssey that is accessible for a younger audience this is definitely an enjoyable version. It doesn't shy away from the death and destruction, so it may not be for very young children, but it's good for those middle of the road ages that probably can't handle the full story, but are able to deal with some of the more mature aspects of the story.
April 28, 2023
Homero fue un antiguo poeta y cantor griego del siglo VIII a. C. que escribió poesías épicas de leyenda y realidad como la Ilíada o la Odisea.
Las aventuras de Ulises son una parte de la Odisea de Homero, la cual trata de las aventuras y complicaciones que tuvo Ulises en su viaje de regreso de la guerra de Troya, pasando por las islas de los cíclopes, la isla de Eolo, el mundo de los muertos... para llegar a su tierra, Ítaca. Allí unos jóvenes intentan casarse con la mujer de Ulises, pero al final Ulises y su hijo consiguen acabar con los intrusos de su palacio para reencontrarse con Penélope, su mujer.
Este libro es una de las mejores partes de la Odisea. En ella aparecen una gran cantidad de personajes, al igual que lugares extravagantes que hacen que este libro te "enganche". Además aparecen muchas criaturas mitológicas que hacen que el libro sea entretenido, aparte de esto, trata de amor y tiene también muchos momentos de acción.
Lo recomendaría a cualquier persona que le gustara leer pero sobre todo se lo recomendaría a personas jóvenes que les guste la mitología, la intriga o la acción. También se lo recomendaría a un público adulto, aunque creo que esta adaptación de Rosemary Sutcliff puede ser poco para ello, aun así, si les gusta la acción, los lugares nuevos y la antigua Grecia, deberían leer este clásico.
En conclusión, este libro me ha encantado por la muchísima acción que tiene, la gran cantidad de personajes y sobre todo la astucia y sabiduría de Ulises para afrontar momentos y crear decisiones en los que corre peligro su vida y la de sus amigos.
Profile Image for Vinia.
274 reviews
May 8, 2018
This story tells of the route the famous Odysseus took on his way back from the newly conquered city of Troy. He sailed away from the "Greek" land with a crew filling around ten other ships, and to headed for his homeland and kingdom of Ithaca, which he reigned.

But the journey was much more than an enjoyable sea trip back to his wife, Penelope, and only son, Telemachus. On the way Odysseus and his unfortunate crew bumped into cyclopes, an evil sorceress called Circe, and many a bad-tempered nymph, sea-goddess, and siren. But soon the poor king of Ithaca became the last one standing; the rest of his crew had either been eaten by cyclopes or sea monsters, and he was trapped on an island with a love-seeking, lonely, yet overall innocent nymph named Calypso. For seven years he remained, longing for his wife and child, and for seven years he remained perched on the edge of the cliff, looking out to sea for a ship that might come sailing by—but in vain. Will Odysseus ever manage to fight his way home?
Profile Image for Hannah Mead.
155 reviews
December 7, 2018
Again, this was a conflicting read... I loved the illustrations and the beautifully rich language. But gosh, Greek mythology is so weird, and it took such a long time for Odysseus to get anywhere - I got a bit tired of all his wanderings! But I know that's the point of the story, and I appreciated the literary history behind this book. So yup, again a 3.5 read, because it just didn't quite make it up to the level of a 4* read personally. But if you want to get a good look into Greek mythology and ancient literature, this is a great book for that!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 196 reviews

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