The Armour of Achilles


The Armour of Achilles is the third in what I assume is to be a quartet of books retelling the story of the Trojan Wars and the quarrels between the Greek heroes of Iliad fame – Menelaus, Helen, Paris, Odysseus, Achilles et al.

The story started when Helen left Menelaus and ran away to Troy with Paris, and by this book the war has reached the stage where the Greeks are encamped outside the walls of Troy some ten years later. Now we have reached the point where the Greeks sack Lyrnessus, and the book largely follows the events portrayed in the Iliad culminating in the death of Hector and the killing of Achilles by an arrow in his heel, thus fulfilling his mother’s prophesy that he would die near Troy but that his name would be remembered for ever. The romantic element provided is between Eperitus and Astynome although the author himself admits that this didn’t actually happen and there is no evidence of the bitter feud between Eperitus and his father. But it all adds to the story and makes the central characters more human rather than simply icons of myth, legend and history.

As I knew the Iliad, I was able to pick up on the events portrayed in this book fairly easily, but the modern reader who may not have had even a smattering of a classical education could well be a little mystified. A short resumé of what had gone before would have been helpful, although the map at the beginning of the book put the places in some perspective.

I enjoyed this book. The characters were well portrayed and came across as human beings, and I look forward to reading the end of the story in the next installment.

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(UK) £12.99

(US) 9780230529304