Take Ten: Myths Made Over

Ulysses and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse

If mythology is just Greek to you, maybe you need to approach it in a different way. Instead of trying to remember a list of gods and their attributes from 8th grade, try one of the following contemporary fiction books instead. Reading the following stories – all novels based on Greek myth – about the interactions between mortals and the immortals will probably be more exciting than browsing through a wikipedia page (or that 8th grade textbook…).

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Alcestis – Katharine Beutner

  • Greek heroine Alcetis, known as the good wife because she loved her husband so much that she died to save his life, tells about her childhood, her marriage to the young king of Pherae, and what happened during the three days she spent in the underworld before being rescued by Heracles.

Helen of Troy – Margaret George

  • Married at a tender age to the Spartan king Menelaus, the beautiful Helen bears him a daughter and anticipates a passionless marriage before falling in love with the Trojan prince Paris, with whom she flees to Troy with devastating consequences.

The King Must Die – Mary Renault

  • Theseus joins the bull-dancers in Crete and takes advantage of an earthquake to overthrow the kingdom.

Lord of the Silver Bow – David Gemmell

  • A retelling of the legend of the Trojan War chronicles the exploits of Aeneas, the Lord of the Silver Bow, a powerful warrior known as Helikaon to his friends, as he engages Argurious, a warrior of Agamemnon, in a battle to the death.

The Lost Books of the Odyssey – Zachary Mason

  • A brilliant and beguiling reimagining of Homer’s classic story about the hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy.

Olympos – Dan Simmons

  • Achilles and Hector lay seige to the home of the gods, inadvertently triggering a massive conflict between humanity and such powerful beings as Setebos, Prospero, and Caliban.

Penelope’s Daughter – Laurel Corona

  • With her father, Odysseus, away and her mother, Penelope, dealing with power-hungry suitors, Xanthe barricades herself in her room and reminisces about her eventful life, from her humble upbringing among slaves to her years spent in hiding with Helen of Troy to the passion of sexual awakening in the arms of the man she loves.

Ransom – David Malouf

  • A reimagining of the story of Priam’s effort to claim the slain body of his son finds the grief-stricken Achilles striking out against Hector after the death of Patroclus during the siege of Troy, an act that results in a powerful confrontation.

Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

  • Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.

War at Troy – Lindsay Clarke

  • A retelling of the wars fought for the Bronze Age city follows the stories of Paris, Helen, Agamemnon, Clytaemnestra, Achilles, Odysseus, and Hector, in an epic tale in which quarrels among immortal gods mirror the conflicts of the human heart.

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