The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, Ecco March 2012 4.5 out of 5.0 quills ...definitely read if you are going to Greece
The Mask of Atreus by A.J. Hartley, Berkley, 2006 4.0 out of 5.0 quills. ...did not add to my Greek knowledge base
I’ve two more novels with Greek settings to review. They were quite different but each was enjoyable. If you were choosing one of the two to prep for a Greek trip I’d definitely go with Song of Achilles. In it the author has created a very readable and surprisingly suspenseful retelling of the Iliad. Patroclus, friend of Achilles is the narrator. We meet him and Achilles when they are young boys. They are quite the contrast in personalities, Achilles is already the stunning Greek warrior and Patroclus is the uncertain, shy exiled prince. They train for war together with Cereus, the centaur. Patroclus grows to love Achilles and becomes his live long follower and friend. I won’t relate the story of the Trojan War here, you’ll probably remember it as you read (either from studying Greek mythology in HS/college or from the really bad Brad Pitt movie of a few years ago). The author has made these characters three dimensional and given them personalities that overcome the Greek statuary that comes to mind when you hear the names Achilles, Paris, Hector, et al. Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks” is more likeable that expected; Odysseus is portrayed as a man who truly loves his wife; Hector is a noble warrior who fights for family not fame; Thetis the god-nymph mother of Achilles personifies the evil interference of the gods in the affairs of men. A worthy retelling of an ancient tale!
The Mask of Atreus is set in modern day Greece and the US. Deborah Miller a curator in a small museum in Atlanta finds the museum director dead in his home surround by ancient Greek artifacts. So the stage is set for a mystery that unfolds in the US and in Athens. Characters include a 19th century archeologist of dubious background, various Nazi officials from WWII, a British collector of art, Greek government officials and neo Nazis in the US. No plot summary from me on this one. It is a fairly quick read with plot twists and turns that encouraged me to finish the book. But all in all nothing special and for me did not add anything to my knowledge base about Greece.
I read copies of these books borrowed from The Free Library of Philadelphia