Tag Archives: The Iliad

Authors Answer 5 – A Video Update!

Check out the original post here. The question is:

Have you read any foreign language novels, translated or not? What would you recommend?

For the first time, I have a different answer than the original. You see, I’ve read a foreign book that has been translated into English since then. And it was a difficult one! Find out what it was in the video.

If you didn’t want to take the time to watch the video (I think you should), then you’ll know from the thumbnail above anyway. It is The Iliad, which I reviewed last year.

Let me know what you thought of the video and the book, if you’ve read it.

Book Review – The Iliad

theiliadThe Iliad

Author: Homer

Series: None

Genre: Classics, Poetry, Mythology

Published 762 BCE

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Goodreads Description

The Iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization – an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture.

The story of the Iliad centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus’ killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer’s theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. The Iliad is the first of the great tragedies.


The Iliad is an epic poem by Homer that is widely considered a great piece of literature, and certainly one of the oldest. It’s an epic retelling of a historical event, but with a strong emphasis on Greek mythology. The Gods are involved, and they pretty much dictate everything that happens. I can’t really say it’s non-fiction. Equally fascinating and frustrating, this was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever read.

The characters were an interesting combination of bigger than life personalities and gods. The gods had great influence on the actions of the characters, so they didn’t act entirely of their own free will. Many of the characters were extremely strong-willed and very stubborn. So stubborn that they were blinded by it. Achilleus, Hektor, Odysseus, Agamemnon, Priam, and Patroklos are featured heavily in the story, and I have to say that they all had one thing in common: personality. There was very little difference between them. Well, I shouldn’t go that far. Achilleus is a great warrior that everyone fears and no one can defeat. Odysseus (who is the main character in Homer’s followup The Odyssey) is also a great warrior who no one seems to be able to beat. The king, Agamemnon, is also a great warrior that no one has defeated. Do you see a pattern here? The greatest warriors seem untouchable. Hektor, who was one of the Trojans, was the top warrior for them, and again, nearly impossible to defeat. The key here are the gods. They pretty much decided who lived and who died. They played with their lives. They seemed petty and childish. Sometimes, I felt like there were no actual adults, but just a bunch of schoolyard bullies.

The story is a pretty simple one. Mostly battle. Back and forth battle. One side gains an advantage, then the gods decide to give the other side an advantage. There’s very graphic description of the battles, and we learn exactly how each person died, their name, their family history and status, and who killed them. There’s even an entire chapter dedicated to listing the names of the ships, where they’re from, who is on each ship, their family histories, their status, and so on. It’s a huge info dump. And it was easy to get distracted from the story, because there was a lot of repetition. Don’t get me wrong, the story was interesting, it just took a lot of dedication to keep reading.

The language used was the most difficult aspect of this poem. The paragraphs were long, the sentences filled with adjectives describing characters, such as “god-like,” “of the shining helmet,” “son of whatshisname,” and so on. And they were repeated so often, it was overkill. But this was Homer’s style, and it was poetry, not prose. That’s part of what makes it difficult to judge. Poetry is not usually read like a story, but this was a story. The dialogue in The Iliad was incredibly unnatural. No one spoke in conversation, only monologues. They made speeches to each other in place of conversation. And when one person wanted to give someone else a message, the messenger repeated everything word for word.

It’s a difficult book to rate because it’s from a time when writing style was totally different. The story was epic. It was a massive battle with a huge amount of detail. The writing style is difficult to read, so it took me a long time to get through all of it. I had no sympathy for any character, because they were not written in a way that gives us any kind of sympathetic feelings toward them. I went into it not realising how much the gods would factor into it. I felt like there was no unpredictability. We knew where it was going because Zeus said how it was going to go.

But how do I rate this? I’ll have to give it a 3 out of 5. It’s good, but only read this if you are willing to go through a literary experience you’ve never been through before. And no, there is no Trojan Horse in this story. That’s The Aeneid, and apparently only referred to in The Odyssey. Anyway, it takes place after this story ends.

When Reading Pushes Me to Write

There are times when a book makes me want to write. Other times, reading gives me little or no inspiration. I’m in the former state at the moment.

For some reason, The Wheel of Time inspires me. The colourful and well-developed characters, the wonderful worldbuilding, and the entertaining story help put me in a creative mood.

On the other hand, The Iliad did the opposite. The characters were like caricatures, very unrealistic, and incredibly melodramatic. The narration (although it was a poem) was adjective-heavy, incredibly repetitive, and the dialogue was completely unnatural. It was difficult to read, and it dulled my creativity. My coming review of the book will say something similar, but I did like it.

Even though I’ve said I wouldn’t be doing much in the way of writing for Ariadne until after we’ve moved to Canada, I have a very strong itch to write. Maybe I can use this opportunity to do some critiquing. Or maybe do some outlining. Or maybe do some more worldbuilding. Maybe all of them. We’ll see.

Do some books inspire you to write, while others do the opposite? Let me know in the comments below.

The Excitement of Starting a New Book

I recently finished reading The Iliad, which was a pretty difficult book to read. It took me quite a while. But of course, I started on another book right after. And let me tell you, the feeling was wonderful.

Starting a new book gives me a feeling of excitement most of the time. Sometimes apprehension, but usually I feel very positive about it. If it’s a series I’m continuing, I always feel great about it.

This time, I started reading The Dragon Reborn, the third book in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Since I’ve already read the first two books, I’m very familiar with the characters and the world. I was excited to start reading it. And since I’ve begun, I can’t seem to put the book down. I’m enjoying it thoroughly. It’s quite easy to read, and I get through the pages quickly. It’s probably Jordan’s style that keeps me glued to the book.

To be honest, I felt a bit of apprehension when I started The Iliad. The style is very unusual compared to what I’m used to reading. Of course, it is nearly three thousand years old. I felt a great sense of relief when I finished it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but it was hard work to read it. I still have The Odyssey to read.

When you start reading a new book, how do you feel? Do you have a strong feeling of anticipation or excitement? Let me know in the comments below.

Difficult to Read Books

I enjoy reading books. That’s obvious. I love reading interesting stories. Sometimes, those interesting stories are also difficult to read. But it doesn’t stop me from reading it.

Currently, I’m reading Homer’s The Iliad, which has a much different narration style than I’m used to. Considering it’s very old, styles have changed a lot since then. For one thing, it’s incredibly repetitive. Characters’ titles, fathers, and the world “godlike” are used nearly every time the character is mentioned. Also, dialogue is often a wall of text that’s a page long. Basically, their conversations are long speeches to each other. Not only that, paragraphs are incredibly long, meaning there are few blank spaces on the page. It’s not easy to focus when it’s like that. And when one person wants another to give a message, the message is repeated word-for-word, even if it’s very long. Because of all of this, it’s taking me a long time to read.

I’ve had people tell me they couldn’t finish The Lord of the Rings because Tolkien was far too descriptive. It was information overload. He described everything in detail. But I enjoyed reading it, and didn’t find it difficult.

What are some books you’ve enjoyed, but found difficult to read?