Classics, Fiction, Mythology

Troy by Stephen Fry

The Greek Myths Reimagined #3 – follow up to Mythos & Heroes

Back to a catch-up post from a 2021 read, Troy completes Stephen Fry’s Greek Myths Reimagined trilogy!

Synopsis

From the publisher marketing:
Full of tragic heroes, intoxicating love stories, and the unstoppable force of fate, there is no conflict more iconic than the Trojan War. Troy is the story of the epic battle retold by Fry with drama, humor, and vivid emotion. Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, Helen, their lovers, and their mortal enemies all burn bright in Fry’s compelling prose. Illustrated throughout with classical art inspired by the myths, this gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world with a brilliant storyteller as your guide.

Review

As I did with Heroes and Mythos, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry. Admittedly, I have never read The Odyssey, though it remains one my list of books to read, but I did enjoy (and repeatedly watch) the film Troy when I was in college. It was spectacular background noise while writing my countless papers as a history major. I am not, however, someone who has ever read The Illiad or The Odyssey, so my knowledge of the story of Troy comes solely through the movie and other snippets I’ve picked up through pop culture. While I own all the recent retellings from Song of Achilles to A Thousand Ships, I have yet to actually read them, so to say my knowledge of this history going in was very limited.

Troy, though, is not completely history, nor completely myth. The Greeks and the Trojans did fight wars, and archeologists have found the remains of the city that was most likely Troy. The heroes of The Illiad and The Odyssey were fabrications of Homer’s mind as we lack any concrete evidence of their existence, but they were most likely based on real people at the time or cobbled together from various oral histories passed down over time. The involvement of the gods in the storytelling is not dissimilar to how the Christian God plays a roll in the lives of mortal humans in the bible. We, as a human species, like to believe that some are touched and gifted by a higher power.

Stephen Fry’s retelling of the Trojan War is full of his signature wit and humor, but does take an overall more serious tone than the first two books of the trilogy. He begins with a history of both time and place leading up to the war and offers very helpful background information on the characters, and gods, at play, so if you haven’t read the other two in the series, you’ll be all set to start here. The focus shifts between the heroes and the gods, offering perspectives between the men who longed for glory on the battlefield and the gods who, ultimately, are disgusted by their sacrifice for so little purpose (Zeus laments creating humanity at the end).

It’s a very accessible and compelling retelling and also a dynamic audiobook which Stephen Fry, once again, narrates himself. The entire trilogy is available in audio format and I can highly recommend listening to it. The books themselves are also beautiful and include a great deal of art work and illustrations throughout.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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