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The Song of Troy

The Song of Troy – By Colleen McCullough

the song of troy colleen mcculloughTo 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.

Olaf The Glorious

A Story Of The Viking Age

Olaf the Glorious A Story Of The Viking AgeHistorical fiction is very popular these days, and Nordic adventures are enjoying a bit of a resurgence. Robert Low’s “Oathsworn” series is a great example.

“Olaf The Glorious – A Story of the Viking Age” is a much earlier work, but still worth a read. It’s actually based on historical events – or a version of these which appeared in various Icelandic sagas and the Anglo-Saxon chronicles.

In fact, authors like Robert Low have used this as a reference work for their own novels. One of the central characters in the Oathsworn series – Crowbone – is based on Olaf The Glorious.

Olaf the Glorious is Olaf Triggvysson – and you may expect to see a variety of different spelling of his name if you chance upon him in other works of fiction. Probably best if we just call him Olaf from here on in. He was a real historical character who lived, as far as we know, between 963 and 1000 AD.

Olaf spent time as a slave in his youth – but he was a prince of Norway, and not about to remain a captive for very long. He eventually escaped from slavery and embarked upon a series of adventures which took him all over Europe and the Middle East (the Vikings were very well travelled) before pressing his claim for the throne of Norway.

Olaf eventually becomes King of Norway before meeting his end, in a suitably heroic manner, during an epic sea battle against a combined fleet of Swedes, Danes and rebel Norwegians.

Robert Leighton has produced a book which is historically accurate, but never dry. There are times when it does read like a bit of Victorian “Boys Own” fiction, which is hardly surprising given its vintage (first published in 1894), but over the piece, it’s a bit of a page turner really.

It’s a great read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and who likes Viking sagas in particular. As mentioned earlier, it has been used as a reference for a variety of more modern works, and reading it may enhance your enjoyment of these even further.

It’s available on Amazon as a free Kindle download and you can also find it for free on Project Gutenberg – in a variety of different formats.

Here are a few other Viking books for your info and enjoyment: