The Song of Troy – By Colleen McCullough
To be honest, I had never read a Colleen McCullough novel until I found myself up-country in India with nothing to read. I kind of associated her mainly with the “Thorn Birds” mini series, which I hadn’t much cared for. Of course, it’s always a mistake to judge any author by a TV or film dramatisation of their work, but I did it subconsciously I think.
Anyway, I found a copy of ” The First Man in Rome“, the first volume in her excellent Masters of Rome series in a second hand book store and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed it hugely, and I went on to read all of the other books in the series – but not before I got hold of a copy of The Song of Troy, which I also enjoyed immensely.
The tale of Troy is thousands of years old. Originally recounted by Homer in “The Iliad “, it’s a story which has been told and retold countless times by countless authors.
Colleen McCullough chooses to tell the story in the first person, from the point of view of the main characters. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the key players in the drama, and most of them get more than one chapter to relate “their side of the story”. Helen, Paris, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, Priam, Agamemnon, and more – all give their account of events.
It’s a clever approach by the author. The first person perspective allows the story to move along at a reasonably fast rate, whilst still exploring different facets of the conflict from the perspective of different characters.
In truth, with such a star studded cast of characters, it would be difficult to select one main protagonist. Ms McCullough’s approach gets round that problem very adroitly indeed and provides the reader with an account which is readable and extremely enjoyable, but which examines this timeless tale in the depth which it deserves.