Adèle Geras – Troy

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The siege of Troy has lasted almost ten years. Inside the walled city, food is scarce and death is common. From the heights of Mount Olympus, the Gods keep watch. But Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, is bored with the endless, dreary war. Aided by Eros’s bow, the goddess sends two sisters down a bloody path to an awful truth: In the fury of war, love strikes the deadliest blows

This is basically the Odyssey  Illiad told from the Trojans point of view. It’s actually pretty good and sounds like something that the Trojans realistically would’ve been like. Now, to be honest, I haven’t read the Illiad and my only knowledge of the Trojan War comes from the Odyssey but it sounds legit. And you really get that ‘two sides of the story’ type feeling. Like it’s written so you can’t help but sympathize with the Trojans and understand why they do what they did. But be warned, the romance is…. TERRIBLE.

The story is told from a few selected perspectives. There’s Xanthe, who’s the handmaiden to Andromache, the wife of Hector. She also works in the infirmary Blood Room, and watches over their son, Astyanax, who’s an adorable little toddler. There’s also Xanthe’s sister, Marpessa, who is handmaiden to Helen and can apparently see the gods if they show up on earth. Then there’s Xanthe’s friend Polyxena, and I have no idea why the plot needs her and Iason who watches over Hector’s horses. Oh and three old crones who work for Helen in the kitchens.

Let’s start with the good part, the Trojans. So all these characters, Trojans with different backgrounds, all love Hector, who if you don’t know if King Priam’s son, Priam being the king of Troy. He’s also Paris’s brother, who stole Helen from Menelaus. Hector is known all over and he’s the city’s main defender, the general, I guess and he fights almost every day. His wife, Andromache is madly in love with him and he with her and they both adore their son and it’s basically the happiest couple in the world. Of course, as history goes, Hector has to fight Achilles but first, he accidentally kills Patroclus, who some believe is Achilles’s lover because Achilles refused to fight that day and I guess (without Achilles knowing) his cousin volunteers and is obviously cut down by Hector.

Troy is happy that Hector didn’t die that day but worry because Achilles is UBER mad now and is just crazing to kill Hector. And then, also as history goes, Hector gets stabbed by Achilles and dragged around the city behind his chariot. Now, Andromache had been dreading Hector’s death and wouldn’t even go down to the gates to watch and when the bells toll and announce Hector’s death, she pretty much goes into depression and Xanthe has to take care of Astyanax who’s being neglected. All of Troy is in mourning and basically anyone who’s anyone gathers in the palace to mourn. And Paris is sad and stressed out now because before Hector died, he told Achilles that Paris would avenge him. To make matters worse for the Trojans, Achilles refuses to return the body so they can perform the funeral rites and the Trojans are just distraught over this.

King Priam himself goes to beg Achilles for his son’s body and Achilles being moved by a father’s love returns Hector’s body and when they perform the rites, every Trojan shows up and Andromache feels slightly better. And the way it’s written, you can’t help feeling sad for the Trojans, if not sad with them. Hector meant pretty much everything to a lot of them and they’re just broken up over his death and you just CAN’T not sympathize with them.

Now with Paris, who stole Helen, he’s been pretty much letting his brother do  the fighting and isn’t as stellar as he once was and Helen is getting bored with him. Every once in a while, Aphrodite comes down and then they’re all over each other again. But Paris, responding to Hector’s declaration that he would avenge him, goes to the walls of Troy and kills Achilles with a single arrow shot. Somehow. And he takes over Hector’s role as protector of the city, and dies when shot with the poisoned bow of Herakles. The people aren’t as sad about Paris’s death but King Priam and Queen Hecuba are even more depressed and Helen is upset, since the only reason she stayed with the Trojans was because of Paris and now she’s being forced to marry Paris’s brother Deiphobos, who Helen abhors and thinks is just gross and she can’t find it in her to love him in any way.

After Helen’s marriage to Deiphobos, she decides she wants to return to Menelaus who she knows will take her back so she starts sending messages back and forth with them. Then there’s the Trojan horse episode and everyone is just overjoyed. Their beloved Hector and Paris had to die in the war and they think they’ve suffered enough and the Greeks realize this and have given them this horse as a present. All except for that one guy that was eaten by Poseidon’s serpent all love it and want to take it inside. They’re celebrating like mad and Priam has declared that all the food and wine be taken out and that they should celebrate for a week. Andromache is still upset over Hector, but she’s slightly happier now and it’s implied that with time, she’ll be all right again.

Then of course, they all get drunk and the Greeks attack. Most of them are asleep so they can’t fight and the Greeks just destroy everything. They kill the king and basically any man of status and take all the women prisoner and they burn and kill the regular people and Andromache has to watch as they throw Astyanax from the walls of Troy because they fear that the son of Hector will avenge him. Andromache just totally shuts down then. And Helen, she waits patiently in her palace until Odysseus comes to take her to Menelaus. Then she just goes onto the ship as a queen basically. She reconciles with Hecuba and Andromache, who don’t blame her anymore even though they had wanted to and Helen takes Marpessa and Xanthe with her and they sail for Greece. THE END.

This told from the Trojans point of view really paint the Greeks as barbaric and you can’t help feeling bad for the Trojans and you can’t even hate Helen. It makes you grieve with Andromache and want the Trojans to win as much as they themselves do. It’s really good.

HOWEVER, the storyline that runs alongside this one, isn’t. It’s actually annoying. So Xanthe falls in love with this soldier in the infirmary and she thinks he likes her but he doesn’t. He likes her sister. Iason is the one that likes Xanthe but Xanthe thinks of him too much like a brother. However, Polyxena, (not to be confused with Priam’s daughter) is in love with Iason. So Polyxena always listens to Iason praising Xanthe and she’s all broken up inside and whatever. Xanthe is upset because she doesn’t have time to talk to the soldier, Alastor, after he leaves the infirmary since she’s always with Astyanax who absolutely adores and loves to death. Little does she know, Alastor is hooking up with Marpessa and they’re basically lovers. Iason asks Polyxena to convey his love to Xanthe and ask her to marry him.

Basically: Polyxena -> Iason -> Xanthe -> Alastor <-> Marpessa

The night of Troy’s burning, Xanthe agrees to marry Iason because she finds out about Marpessa and Alastor. She basically told her that she doesn’t want to talk to her anymore and that they can both go rot or whatever. I mean, it’s justified, sure. She catches Marpessa getting ready to abort Alastor’s baby because Alastor who comes from a rich family is being married off soon and yet he still wants to hook up with her and she’s had enough.

This romance storyline is just a train wreck. Helen, who adores Marpessa, takes her with her. Xanthe stayed with Andromache that fateful night and also watches as Astyanax is killed and she just shuts down. Worse than Andromache. She goes into a trance and Helen sends Menelaus to bring Xanthe since she’s Marpessa’s sister. Alastor, dresses as a girl so he wouldn’t be killed, and he tells Helen who he is so he can join them. Iason and Polyxena hide in Troy with the horses and are still there when the ships leave so they start a new life together with a bunch of horses.

One other thing. Many of the characters see the gods occasionally, other than Marpessa who always does, and the encounters are always the same. The characters don’t believe it’s the god(dess) and the god(dess) tells them what’s going to happen in the war and when the character wants to know more, they vanish and the character forgets all about the encounter. This, I felt was super unnecessary. Most people know what happened during the Trojan War already and if not, it happens about a few pages later anyways. I guess it shows that the gods are on the side of the Greeks but annoying how often and how repetitive this was.

But overall? Worth a read.

Rating: 3

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