Mark Patton's Reviews > Hand of Fire

Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston
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Nov 16, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, new-releases

If Isaac Newton’s maxim about “standing on the shoulders of giants” is true of scientists, one might expect it to be all the more true of writers, and yet, when today’s authors engage directly with the timeless giants of literature (Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Virgil), the results are often disappointing: they either change so much as to render the connection meaningless; or tell the same tale in prose far less elegant than the original poetry. Often, but not always, and certainly not in the case of Starkston’s “Hand of Fire.” Her version of the Trojan War differs from Homer’s only in terms of viewpoint, but that viewpoint is radically different; firstly because the story is told through the eyes of a female character (Briseis); and secondly because the cultural background of the narration is not Greek, but Asiatic (Trojan/Hittite/Luwian) – a cultural tradition that will be unfamiliar to most modern readers, but which has been assiduously researched by the author, a classicist by training. This research (both archaeological and textual) sits lightly on the page, but is presented in some detail, for those readers who are interested, on her website (www.judithstarkston.com). “Hand of Fire,” like Ursula Le Guin’s “Lavinia,” or Derek Walcott’s “Omeros,” is a modern work that offers a truly original perspective on an ancient tale.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 16, 2014 – Shelved
November 16, 2014 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
November 16, 2014 – Shelved as: new-releases
November 16, 2014 – Finished Reading

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