Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths.
‘Taut, masterly, wholly absorbing. Still one of the greatest stories ever written. A book that will be read in generations to come’ Daily Telegraph on The Silence of the Girls
Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.
But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Trojan king Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.
Amidst her squabbling captors, Briseis — now married to Alcimus, but carrying the child of the late Achilles — must forge alliances where she can: with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, and with wild-eyed Cassandra, the unheeded seer. And so begins the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…
This is another outing with a new-to-me author and again I’m wondering why I’ve left it so long.
The beautiful and previously deemed impregnable fortress city of Troy has fallen and the males – all men, boys, and male babies – have been killed to end the Trojan bloodlines and prevent potential future uprisings. The women of Troy, those who did not end their lives rather than be captured, have all been divided between the leaders of the conquering Greek armies as spoils of war, to be used as concubines and slaves. Briseis is one of the more ‘fortunate’ ones. Having been the concubine of Achilles and now pregnant with his child she has been respectably married off to one of his most loyal men which gives her a level of protection that most of the women do not have. Through her eyes we see the turmoil and trauma of the women of Troy as they grieve their loved ones and the loss of the home they loved and felt safe in, and experience the uncertainty of their new lives where a woman’s life depends on the humour of the man she has been given to. And who is likely to be the same man responsible for the deaths of her family. There are politics among the Greek leaders too, although that doesn’t feature in this book as strongly as I expected it to.
I loved this retelling of the aftermath of the fall of Troy. This book follows The Silence Of The Girls which I am intending to read very soon. Because I enjoy Greek mythology and history I am familiar with the story of Troy and the main characters, so I don’t expect to have any trouble going backward to where this book series began. I am also hoping there will be another book so that I can continue to follow Briseis’s story.
Even if you are not familiar with the fall of Troy you will not have difficulty following the names and places mentioned as the author manages to keep everything very clear, not always an easy feat. I highly recommend this book. Give it a go!