Forgotten your Homer? Here’s a good chance to brush up, since McCullough (Morgan’s Run, 2000, etc.) relied heavily on the Iliad and the Odyssey (along with Herodotus, Sophocles, Pindar, Hesiod, and Virgil) in putting together this narration of the Trojan Wars. You’ve already met just about everyone here—the lubricious Helen (whose idle lusts brought ruin to whole worlds), the caddish and egocentric Paris, the wily Odysseus, the proud Achilles, the noble Hektor, the terrifying Klytemnestra—and the author tells the story in their voices, narrating each chapter by one or another of the principals. While there’s an inevitably anachronistic modern sensibility overlaying the emotions and reactions of the classical protagonists (“I stared back, at a loss. How did a rape begin?”), reminiscent in a way of the Hollywood costume epics of the 1950s, McCullough manages to bring a fresh tone to the ancient saga, while the multiple narratives enhance the story without confusing the action. Of course, the shading and the details are everything, here, since we all know how it ends.
Surprisingly rich and witty: a nice reprise—or a good introduction, as the case may be.