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Argos Paperback – May 10, 2016
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Top Customer Reviews
In many ways, while this book is pretty much what I expected, it also wasn't what I expected.
We meet Argos in his last few moments, dying on a pile of refuse and filth. How he got to this point... well, that's why we're here. His soul is transported to Hades where he and the legendary Cerebus, the three-headed gargantuan hound who guards the entrace to the Underworld, form a bond as unique as they both are. At Cerebus' request, Argos relates the story of his life. A long, strange journey indeed.
Parts of the story felt weird. At one point Athena- Odysseus' patron goddess- grants Argos the ability to see emotions in other dogs as colors: red for anger, green for friendly, etc- and manipulate them. That was... weird. Especially since after using it during a particular adventure Argos never employed it again, even when it would've helped him greatly as it did then.
Even in its most Lassie-inspired moments, the story doesn't disappoint. Athena has decreed that so long as Argos lives his master will be safe. Knowing what Odysseus endured both during the Trojan War and after, it's not hard to imagine anyone losing hope that'd he get home again. But you're not a dog graced by a god to watch over his master.
I was more fascinated with Cerebus' portrayal than anything else. Simpson both humanized and demystified the legendary beast in one fell swoop. While it was good that Simpson displayed another side of the legend, Cerebus felt diminished a bit by it.
Argos is an enjoyable read for any age, sure to touch your heart at some point- especially if you're a pet lover. A solid, fast-paced book.
Almost everyone that has graduated high school has been exposed to Odysseus and his incredible feats of heroism at some point in their lives. His victory at Troy using the Trojan Horse is referenced in so many different books, movies, and other media - even Monty Python included their own version of it in The Holy Grail - and even Penelope's struggles have written about (Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad comes to mind). But nobody ever tells Argos' story. Until now.
I didn't know how much I needed this story until I started reading it. Argos is loyal to a fault, and he's telling the story of his life to Cerberus, who has never met another dog as loyal to his master as himself. I loved the interactions between Argos and Cerberus, and I would love to have seen more about their relationship. I know it's outside of the scope of this story, but their friendship is one of the best relationships I've seen in a book. Argos was just a puppy when Odysseus left him to go fight in Troy, and I just really enjoyed listening to the joys and trials of his life. Even though he's a dog, things are not always easy for him, especially since he's blessed with the ability to understand humans. He has his fair share of enemies, and I was worried for him every time one of decided to show up.
Although there are a few parts that were a little slow, most of the story keeps up a nice pace. Argos has lived for 20 years, and somehow manages to tell his story in a reasonable amount of time. His friendships with Telemachus and Eumaeus, his unwavering love for his master, and all of the things he's willing to endure to protect his family are just a few of the things that made me love Argos even more. And then, of course, had me crying like a little baby. It takes a lot to make me cry in normal books, but somehow this book, told from the perspective of a dog, nearly gutted me. There were happy tears too!
If you, like me, enjoy a great retelling of classic stories, and are looking for something totally unique and different, you'll want to read Argos. It may be a story told by a dog, but it is also so much more than that. I hope Phillip Simpson continues to write books like Argos and Minotaur, because I will be waiting impatiently for another story that changes the way I think about these stories. 4/5!
I remember I had to read varying versions of The Odyssey in school at least three times, and one question on just about every test was about Argos, Odysseus’ dog, usually something about the fact that he demonstrated his loyalty, and the fact that it was so telling how much he cared for Odysseus that he finally passed away right after his master got home. I only remember because I recall wondering what was so significant about that that it was worth being a test question. Anyway, when I read the blurb of this book, I was reminded of that, and thus intrigued. I’m a bit of a mythology fanatic, and the idea of filling in the story for the pieces we don’t have any record of is awesome!
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I’d say in general it’s written for a bit of a lower age group than I normally read from, but I felt that to be an appropriate decision. I did, however, have to remind myself of that a few times.
I was impressed by Simpson’s ability to craft a creative story that was still exciting around the little tidbits of information provided by Homer. And I felt that he really captured the role that a dog would play in certain scenarios, and the pride that might come with such a responsibility. I really did feel like I was the dog throughout most of Argos’ journey. It helps that it’s written in first person, which was an excellent choice. The story is structured such that Argos is recounting his tale to Cerberus, which at times I really enjoyed and at others I could have done without — there were a few interruptions of development in order to throw in a conversation with Cerberus that didn’t feel like much of a value-add to me.
In general, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the mythology side of things! I would say, for younger readers, that some baseline familiarity with the Iliad and The Odyssey is recommended, though not 100% necessary.
Also, on a side note, I LOVE the cover!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I finished this book some days ago, but was so filled up with emotions, that it didn't feel...Read more