- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Frances Lincoln Childrens Books (November 14, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1845078276
- ISBN-13: 978-1845078270
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 109 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad Paperback – November 14, 2008
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Rosemary Sutcliff had the ability to make daunting historical fiction accessible to a young readership. In this retelling of Homer's Iliad, she retains all the excitement of the original ancient Greek story, with its colourful cast of Gods and heroes. The Iliad is not an easy book, with violent battle scenes and psychological drama, but there is enough magic and charm in the story to keep even the most faint-hearted reader enthralled. Sutcliff's version is an excellent introduction to the book and anyone who enjoys this would be well advised to pick up a copy of the same author's wonderful interpretation of Homer's Odyssey, The Wanderings of Odysseus, also published by Frances Lincoln. Carousel
About the Author
ROSEMARY SUTCLIFF, who sadly died in 1992, was the author of many widely-acclaimed historical novels for both children and adults. She won the Library Association Carnegie Medal in 1959 for her historical novel for children The Lantern Bearers, and was runner-up with Tristan and Iseult in 1972. ALAN LEE won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations to Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy, which was followed by The Wanderings of Odysseus (both Frances Lincoln). In 1998 he won the Best Artist Award at the World Fantasy Awards. He illustrated the Centenary editions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and, more recently, The Children of Hurin (HarperCollins). He went on to transform his vision of Middle Earth from page to celluloid in Peter Jackson's film trilogy The Lord of the Rings, winning an Oscar in 2004 as part of the Art Direction team on The Return of the King. He is now designing the film of The Hobbit. Alan lives in South Devon.
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Basically instead of being an epic poem, the author made the Iliad into a novel that's easy to read. There is also a similar version of the Odyssey that you can get as a separate book. If you want kids to know the story in general, this is a great option. If you want to teach/read the original epic poem, this is not what you want. I own bother versions and this this option is really cool, even though I also love classic literature! It's kid-friendly for young teens and up (like I said, I read it to 12-year-olds, but younger ones might not like it), but it's certainly not kiddie. An adult wanting the story might like this, too.
The cover and paper quality of this book is disappointing, though. The cover artwork is attractive, but it is small (4.5" x 6"), and the thickness of paper is so thin that the binding for the 156-page text is wavy and flimsy. (Akin to pulp fictions at the grocery or dollar stores back in the '80s). I was disillusioned to expect that this book was of the same quality as Greek Myths by Olivia Coolidge that we ordered at the same time Greek Myths. Just know what the paperback is like. No illustrations, either. I recommend a hardback or another edition if you are a bibliophile.
The illustrations are very detailed and engaging. The story stayed pretty well to the original, mostly agreed upon narrative while toning down some of the more inappropriate content that may be a little too much for young ears. 7 year old son loved reading it every night before bed.
When the Amazon box arrived (don't you just love getting those boxes?) I picked up Black Ships to take a look before I passed it to my son. But I didn't hand it over until I'd read the whole thing! It's fabulous!
Remember when you read the Iliad, how hard it was to keep track of all the different characters, and who had offended whom, and who came from where, and all those little details? That, on top of deciphering the archaic language form, made the reading somewhat tedious. Interesting, yes, but it took effort! This version was so much more fun. I didn't have to keep flipping back and forth in order to keep up, and the story just surged along. Furthermore, Sutcliff manages to keep the flavor of the original tome intact, using vivid prose.
My son is enjoying it so far, too - he's reading it of his own free will! And I believe his experience will be positive enough that when it comes time to read Iliad and Odyssey, he will be excited. (And actually read the full version and not some abridged form or, heaven forbid... Cliff Notes!!!)
So, if you just want to brush up on your memory of the Iliad, or introduce it to some reluctant reader, or you have a child in mind, then I highly recommend this book. She's done a fantastic job.
One caveat, this version does not have illustrations...
Approximately 125 pages (gloriously illustrated) in this large hard cover picture book. Good vocabulary, mythic themes (of course) and tricky names. There is a pronunciation guide at the back.
Older brothers (and sisters!) will get caught up in the story, as well. Seeing these illustrations... magical.
As a companion, try the Usborne model of the Trojan Horse -- great results! Make This Model Trojan Horse (Usborne Cut-Out Models)