King of Ithaca

King of Ithaca - Glyn Iliffe

This is the post on Glyn Iliffe's King of Ithaca, written some years ago, that I referred to earlier today in my review of his The Oracles of Troy


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When I picked up this book, I assumed I was getting yet another take on Troy. No, I don't mean "yet another"; I always enjoy reading books or plays that tell the tale of the seige of Troy and its aftermath, be it from Helen's point of view, or Clytemnestra's, or Cassandra's. Or whoever. I must get some of these others onto this site!


(Or even watching films. I loved John Kent Harrison's Helen of Troy, with Sienna Guillory as Helen.)


But this is not that story at all. And strangely, I didn't even realise until I was half way through the book. I had been hooked since the opening scenes on Mount Parnassus and in the Cave of Pythia, the Oracle, and was reading on happily when suddenly I thought I ought to make a note to the effect that it was taking an awful long time to build up to the climax. (Yes, I do make notes when I plan to write some kind of review; I should make a lot more.) Too long. So I cheated. Glanced at the end of the book, and it finishes with Odysseus marrying Penelope and becoming King of Ithaca. Hardly a hint of the coming war.. Except that Helen has just married Menelaus, and it doesn't take the most percipient man in Greece to see that he is in for an "interesting" life!


So. Odysseus' early years. And wonderful, in the sense that you are there with him, seeing it all, experiencing it.


Of course, I would rather have had a little more of Helen and/or Penelope. But I wasn't left without a character to identify with. The Clytemnestra in this version of the events leading up to the war is perfect.


Read it. When you have,  and you come across Odysseus again in another book or film, you will know him as very few of those around him ever do.


You become part of his world, and he becomes part of yours.