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The Songs of the Kings

by

The Songs of the Kings Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"We are still arguing about what the Trojan War means, just as we're likely to go on arguing about what the current war means for many years. The latest installment in the conversation is British author Barry Unsworth's new novel, The Songs of the Kings. Unsworth's conception of why people go to war ? and what persuades them to lay down their lives for what often doesn't amount to much more than an idea ? is a very modern one. He doesn't just court comparisons between the Trojan War and the current one; he practically begs them...." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read the entire Salon review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“Troy meant one thing only to the men gathered here, as it did to their commanders. Troy was a dream of wealth; and if the wind continued the dream would crumble.”

As the harsh wind holds the Greek fleet trapped in the straits at Aulis, frustration and political impotence turn into a desire for the blood of a young and innocent woman - blood that will appease the gods and allow the troops to set sail. And when Iphigeneia, Agamemnons beloved daughter, is brought to the coast under false pretences, and when a knife is fashioned out of the finest and most precious of materials, it looks as if the ships will soon be on their way. But can a father really go to these lengths to secure political victory, and can a daughter willingly give up her life for the worldly ambitions of her father?

Throwing off the heroic values we expect of them, Barry Unsworths mythic characters embrace the political ethos of the twenty-first century and speak in words we recognize as our own. The blowhard Odysseus warns the men to not “marginalize” Agamemnon and to “strike while the bronze is hot.” High-sounding principles clash with private motives, and dark comedy ensues. Here is a novel that stands the world on its head.

Review:

"Provocative and subversive....Unsworth's narrative method is as daring as his message; his prose is a mixture of classic cadences and contemporary vernacular, animated by beautifully descriptive vignettes and bawdy humor." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"The world of Homeric epic and Euripidean tragedy is brought sharply to life in British master Unsworth's gorgeously detailed, astute 14th novel....[A] cleverly paced retelling..." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[A]n incandescent novel....[I]n part a desolate myth told with the fate-drunk lurch of Greek drama, in part a mordant contemporary satire on the unequal struggle between humanity and its corruption through the ends and means of war and power." Richard Eder, The New York Times

Review:

"This classical time when history and myth intersect provides ample opportunity for the distinguished novelist to accomplish his usual gracious exploration of the unique textures of past cultures, and his many fans will not be disappointed." Brad Hooper, Booklist

Review:

"[M]aintains page-turning suspense right to the end. While Unsworth makes the novel accessible to anyone, readers with some knowledge of Greek mythology will particularly appreciate its subtleties." Tom LeClair, Book Magazine

Review:

"[A] rich and vivid [portrait], eruditely developed, beautifully described....The Songs of the Kings [is] more admirable for its ideas than its emotional range..." Neil Gordon, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"The Songs of the Kings is a beautifully measured entertainment given gravity by how accurately it reflects the present political zeal to control the media." The Independent (London)

Review:

"[I]ntellectually agile, thrillingly stylish....The Songs of the Kings effortlessly proves that modern life is the stuff of ancient myth." The Guardian (U.K.)

Synopsis:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 337-338).

About the Author

Barry Unsworth won the Booker Prize for his novel Sacred Hunger and is also the author of Losing Nelson, After Hannibal, and the international bestseller Morality Play. He lives in Italy.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385501149
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Unsworth, Barry
Publisher:
Nan A. Talese
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
History
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Greece
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Trojan War
Subject:
Humorous fiction
Subject:
Agamemnon
Subject:
Iphigenia
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1st ed. in the U.S.A.
Series Volume:
2
Publication Date:
March 18, 2003
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.72x5.78x1.17 in. 1.08 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Songs of the Kings Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Nan A. Talese - English 9780385501149 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "We are still arguing about what the Trojan War means, just as we're likely to go on arguing about what the current war means for many years. The latest installment in the conversation is British author Barry Unsworth's new novel, The Songs of the Kings. Unsworth's conception of why people go to war ? and what persuades them to lay down their lives for what often doesn't amount to much more than an idea ? is a very modern one. He doesn't just court comparisons between the Trojan War and the current one; he practically begs them...." (read the entire Salon review)
"Review" by , "Provocative and subversive....Unsworth's narrative method is as daring as his message; his prose is a mixture of classic cadences and contemporary vernacular, animated by beautifully descriptive vignettes and bawdy humor."
"Review" by , "The world of Homeric epic and Euripidean tragedy is brought sharply to life in British master Unsworth's gorgeously detailed, astute 14th novel....[A] cleverly paced retelling..."
"Review" by , "[A]n incandescent novel....[I]n part a desolate myth told with the fate-drunk lurch of Greek drama, in part a mordant contemporary satire on the unequal struggle between humanity and its corruption through the ends and means of war and power."
"Review" by , "This classical time when history and myth intersect provides ample opportunity for the distinguished novelist to accomplish his usual gracious exploration of the unique textures of past cultures, and his many fans will not be disappointed."
"Review" by , "[M]aintains page-turning suspense right to the end. While Unsworth makes the novel accessible to anyone, readers with some knowledge of Greek mythology will particularly appreciate its subtleties."
"Review" by , "[A] rich and vivid [portrait], eruditely developed, beautifully described....The Songs of the Kings [is] more admirable for its ideas than its emotional range..."
"Review" by , "The Songs of the Kings is a beautifully measured entertainment given gravity by how accurately it reflects the present political zeal to control the media."
"Review" by , "[I]ntellectually agile, thrillingly stylish....The Songs of the Kings effortlessly proves that modern life is the stuff of ancient myth."
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. 337-338).
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