Spotlight is my Saturday feature in which I highlight a book I am either really looking forward to or really enjoyed. This time I’m highlighting a book I really enjoyed: The Song of Troy by Colleen McCullough.
In The Song of Troy, the bestselling author of The Thorn Birds recounts the tale of Helen and Paris, the immortal lovers who doomed two great nations to a terrible war. It is told through the eyes of its main characters: the sensuous and self-indulgent Helen; the subtle and brilliant Odysseus; the sad old man Priam, King of Troy; the tormented warrior prince, Achilles; and Agamemnon, King of Kings, who consents to the unspeakable in order to launch his thousand ships. This is an unputdownable tale of love, ambition, delusion, honour and consuming passion.
It’s hard to pick a favourite character out of the entire book because Colleen McCullough has made each unique and interesting. Not all portrayals are necessarily the most flattering (see: Helen herself), but the way the story is told they feel more realistic. There are no divine interventions, only people fighting a vicious, bloody war for reasons of their own.
Although newcomers to the legend of Troy would be able to understand things perfectly, The Song of Troy is more of a refreshing change for people who have read at least one different interpretation or even the original. Having read at least one other interpretation allows you to truly appreciate the monumental effort Colleen McCullough put into her novel to make legendary figures more human. Being human, they are wonderfully, fatally flawed as well.
Even if you don’t like historical fiction in general, I would definitely recommend The Song of Troy.