From the Booker Prize-winning author of the Regeneration trilogy comes a monumental new masterpiece, set in the midst of literature’s most famous war. Pat Barker turns her attention to the timeless legend of The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War.
The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman–Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war’s outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.
When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis’s people, but also of the ancient world at large.
Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war–the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead–all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives–and it is nothing short of magnificent.
This is not your normal Helen of Troy book. So get that completely out of your mind. This book deals with completely with the slaves from the Greek conquests around Troy while they were locked in siege of Troy. You see a queen, Briseis, go from being a queen to being a lowly slave to Achilles and then to Agamemnon.
Even though she does not want to Briseis falls in love with Achilles and he with her though Achilles does not really understand the concept of love, in my opinion. I will not say if this book ends happily ever after or not. If you know the story of Helen of Troy then you know how the main story ends.
The author kept true to the main history story of the battle of Greece versus Troy and so if you know that story then this one is easy to follow. You can follow it fairly easy without knowing the history story, but it enriches the story if you know the reasons & what happens.
This book is well worth the read if you like Greek mythology (I do) and want to read the story from another point of view, in this case a slave. Get the book, read it, then let me know what you think!
I received this book from Net Galley for this review.