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The Fall of Troy Paperback – November 11, 2008
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Paperback : 212 pages
- ISBN-10 : 030738649X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307386496
- Product Dimensions : 8 x 5.26 x 0.65 inches
- Publisher : Anchor; Reprint Edition (November 11, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,874,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Obermann is a great character and I never knew quite how to respond to him - was he a genius, a fraud, a thief, a menace or a visionary? Ackroyd gives life and vivid characterizations to Obermann's wife Sophia, a British archaeologist, a blind scholar and to the landscape itself, making the trees and rocks resound with the echoes of the Greek gods.
The Fall of Troy is a fascinating read for those interested in Greek mythology, the Iliad or the life of Heinrich Schliemann.
Most of this finds its way into Ackroyd's compact novel, at least as background. At first, only the surnames are changed: meet Heinrich Obermann and Sophia Chrysanthis, beautifully apt monikers for the megalomaniac archaeologist and his golden bride. It is an arranged marriage, but Sophia is swept away by the energy and enthusiasm of her husband, by the sheer scale of his excavations, and by his pagan conviction that they have been chosen by the gods to walk again in their ancient footsteps; there is a beautiful chapter in which they ride up the slopes of Mount Ida to visit the glade where Paris chose between the goddesses Hera, Athene, and Aphrodite. Heinrich, who knows much of Homer by memory, works largely by instinct, feeling the presence of ancient civilizations in the air around him and the ground under his feet, and apparently being mostly right. When visiting experts from Harvard or the British Museum raise some tentative questions about proof, Heinrich merely puts his hand to his heart, saying that he has all the proof he needs right there.
As the novel proceeds, it becomes clear why Ackroyd has changed the names. He needs to develop the larger-than-life Heinrich in his own way, bringing events to conclusions that have no basis in history, but are nonetheless deeply rooted in character. Sophia proves remarkably competent in helping with the excavations, offering insights of her own, and serving as a charming mediator between her husband and those irritating visitors. But she also becomes aware that her husband is keeping secrets from her: not merely the valuable finds he conceals from their Turkish overseer, but also facts about his own history that she discovers only by accident. And when a young English paleontologist comes to the site to work on what appear to be tablets inscribed with writing, and his conclusions threaten to disprove everything that Heinrich had so fervently believed, events move to a climax that is both understated and devastating. Not for nothing is this novel called the Fall of Troy. It is hard not to weep for the loss to science that Heinrich's bull-in-a-china-shop attitudes incur; similar charges were raised against Schliemann. Yet what we end with is the radiance of Heinrich's vision, and of Homer's epic blazing through him. Heinrich -- whether Obermann or Schliemann -- may have been a rogue, but he certainly was a glorious one.
Mr. Obermann is a difficult man to like because he has set ideas and anything that proves to be different than his beliefs are destroyed or ignored. Another archaeologist arrives whose study takes him in a different direction from Obermann and Sophia is caught between the men.
That is the basic plot of this book. My problems with this story are that it is hard to know what is based on facts and what is total fiction. I also had a hard time liking any of the characters although it was easy to like Sophia, especially at the end of the novel.
If you enjoy archaeology and Troy especially, you will probably enjoy this novel. I just had a hard time getting through it.
I borrowed this book from my local library.
Top reviews from other countries
'The Fall of Troy' is not a novel I can say I actually liked as such, but it does remain in the mind after the final page. It's a study of deception and obsession, of myth and memory, & how, despite reason, men WILL persist in weaving their own destructive fates - a combination which leads Sophia to experience the random tragic effects & casual cruelties of the old Greek gods.
A tale well told.
Herr Obermann, a German archaeologist who wants to discover the Troy of Homer is a thinly disguised story about Heinrich Schliemann (1822 - 1890) a German amateur archaeologist and an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer.
They both experience the highs and lows of their precarious profession. Ackroyd tells a very enjoyable, interesting story set in a magical and legendary setting. Anyone who has "searched for Troy" as I have, will, I am sure enjoy this book.
One of Ackroyd's best.