By Stephen Fry

Released : 26/12/2020
Reviewed : 24/11/2020
Reviewed by : Meesha Luwang

“We know how brutal soldiers can be. Years of homesickness, hardship and the loss of comrades while under the constant danger of life-threatening injury harden the heart and stifle the small voice of mercy. We know how the Red Army raped, looted and murdered their way into Berlin in 1946. How cruelly British troops tortured and mutilated rebels rounded after the Indian Mutiny. What the Americans did at My Lai in Vietnam. Whatever country we are from, and however proud we may be of our national claim to tolerance, honour and decency, we cannot dare assume that armies fighting under our flag have not been guilty of atrocities quite as obscene as those perpetrated by the ravening Greeks that night.”

Troy is the third book in Stephen Fry’s retelling of the Greek myths. While the first book, Mythos, dealt with Gods and Goddesses, and the second one “Heroes” was about mortals, Troy is a tale about the time when Gods still appeared before mortals- befriended them, persecuted them, favoured them, blessed them, cursed them, and sometimes even married them. With his trademark wit and humour Stephen Fry retells the story of the siege of Troy which remains one of the most well known events in the world. Hard as it is to separate fact from fables and legends from reality, Troy has always been a fascinating story.

Most of us are familiar with the pillars of the story- the beauty of Helen, the kidnapping of Helen, Achilles’ vulnerable heel, the Trojan horse, etc but Fry breathes new life into the story. He starts with the foundation of Troy by Tros and ends with the destruction of Troy during the reign of King Priam. Here we are reintroduced to characters from Mythos and Heroes- the Olympian Zeus whose act triggered the 10-year siege of Troy, Aphrodite who bribed Paris with Helen’s heart just to be declared the fairest Olympian, Thetis whose love failed to save her son Achilles, Heracles who was intensely hated by Hera for he was a product of Zeus’ infidelity. We also meet new characters- Helen the queen of Sparta whose face launched a thousand ships, the cunning Odysseus, the vain and arrogant Prince Paris, Prince Hector whose act of killing Patroclus propelled Achilles to join the battle of Troy. Fry, at the very outset had rightly proclaimed that it isn’t humanly possible to remember the names of every character in the book. It is a testament to his amazing story-telling ability that one can easily follow the story without flipping the pages back and forth to understand the characters.

This lively and charming book is a perfect gift to those of us who have always been intrigued by Greek mythology but have always remained intimidated by the sheer size and language of the classics. These classics have achieved immortality because they have everything. There’s romance, heroes, villains, greed, lust, honour, revenge, centaurs, decency, pain, desire, despair, and humanity with all its flaws. Their heroes are not perfect and their Gods are as messed up as any of us. But most importantly, they’re absolutely entertaining.

5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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