Book: Troy

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Author: Adèle Geras
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books

The classic struggle between Greece and Troy brought to life by a panoramic chorus of voices both humble and high, human and divine.

The siege of Troy has lasted almost ten years. Inside the walled city, food is becoming scarce and the death toll is rising. From the heights of Mount Olympus, the Gods keep watch.

But Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, is bored with the endless, dreary war, and so she turns her attention to two sisters: Marpessa, who is gifted with God-sight and serves as handmaiden to Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world; and Xanthe, who is kind and loving and tends the wounded soldiers in the Blood Room. When Eros fits an arrow to his silver-lit bow and lets it fly, neither sister will escape its power.

With vitality and grace, Adèle Geras breathes personality, heartbreak, and humor into this classic story. This is truly an inspired novel, told through the eyes of the women of Troy, in which the Gods move among mortals and an ancient city is brought to life.


Homer’s mighty epic poem, The Iliad, is the earliest written literature of Western civilization. Adele Geras, best known for her trilogy based on Sleeping Beauty, takes on the seemingly impertinent task of retelling the siege of Troy as a young adult novel, but manages to carry it off without trivializing the original. The great battles of the bronze-clad warriors and the clashes between Achilles and Hector and Odysseus are seen at a distance from the walls of the city, where the Trojan townsfolk gather to sit each day and cheer the action like spectators at some archaic football game.

The passion of Helen and Paris, Hector’s farewell to his ill-fated infant son, and other familiar domestic scenes are seen from a closer perspective, through the eyes of the four teenage protagonists. Marpessa is Helen’s young servant, and her sister Xanthe is nursemaid to Hector’s baby son, while Iason, who is secretly beloved by their friend Polyxena, tends the horses and yearns for Xanthe, who has a crush on Alastor, who has impregnated Marpessa. These complicated, interlocking infatuations and love affairs work themselves out against a background of siege and bloodshed watched over by the gods. Artemis, Mars, Poseidon, and Pallas Athene appear in visions to reveal their plans to the characters (and to us), but their words blow away like mist as soon as they are gone. Meanwhile, the bawdy gossip of three old serving maids in the kitchen emulates a Greek chorus. The story winds to its inevitable destination with the emergence of the Greeks from the wooden horse and the bloody sack of the city—a suitably violent end to an ancient and violent tale. (Ages 12 and older) —Patty Campbell

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