Songs of the Kings

Paperback | March 30, 2004

byBarry Unsworth

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"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, Agamemnon's 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 Unsworth's 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.

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"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—b...

Barry Unsworth (1930-2012), who won the Booker Prize for Sacred Hunger, was a Booker Prize finalist for Morality Play and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for The Ruby in Her Navel.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:342 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.83 inPublished:March 30, 2004Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0393322831

ISBN - 13:9780393322835

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Grecian Gem I was drawn to this book firstly because of my love of ancient history..The greeks are a fascinating bunch, and secondly the intriguing plotline outlined on the back of the book. I was highly interested in reading a novel about the potential sacrifice of Agamemnon's eldest daughter. I was not disappointed. the book offered lots of back story into the lives of certain greek soldiers, an impressive interpretation of the daughter and her best friend's thoughts and feelings...and plenty of great dialogue. I also immensely enjoyed the role of calchas, his assistant and their relations with the singer...and the fashioning of the sacrificial knife. it is an awesome find and even after reading the iliad and the odyssey and finding a few contradictions, it is still a great read and now I don't know who to believe? Homer or Barry Unsworth! hah. read it people!
Date published: 2005-08-02

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Editorial Reviews

Detail so precise you can almost smell the cook fires....Almost magical capacity for literary time travel. — Neil Gordon (New York Times Book Review)Intellectually agile, thrillingly stylish...The Songs of the Kings effortlessly proves that modern life is the stuff of ancient myth. — The GuardianA beautifully measured entertainment given gravity by how accurately it reflects the present political zeal to control the media. — The IndependentBrilliantly told. This short, sharp tale deserves to be on the shelves of revisionists and purists alike. — The List