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A queen of Troy is caught between Achilles and Agamemnon when she is captured and forced into slavery in this ferocious retelling of The Iliad.
I'm a sucker for a good retelling, especially if it's about the Ancient Greeks. So I admit that I'm the exact right audience for Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls. And yet, it still exceeded my expectations.
The Silence of the Girls recounts the story of The Iliad as seen through the eyes of Briseis, a Trojan queen taken as a slave by Achilles as his reward for the sack of Lyrnessus. As the ye...
The ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman—Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war's outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy's neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece's greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Ach...
Get an early look from the first pages of Pat Barker's Silence of the Girls.Read a sample →
Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles … How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him “the butcher.”
Swift-footed Achilles. Now there’s an interesting one. More than anything else, more than brilliance, more than greatness, his speed defined him. There’s a story that he once chased the god Apollo all over the plains of Troy. Cornered at last, Apollo is supposed to have said: “You can’t kill me, I’m immortal.” “Ah, yes,” Achilles replied. “But we both know if you weren’t immortal, you’d be dead.”
Nobody was ever allowed the last word; not even a god.
I heard him before I saw him: his battle cry ringing round the walls of Lyrnessus.
We women—children too, of course—had been told to go to the citadel, taking a change of clothes and as much food and drink as we could carry. Like all respectable married women, I rarely left my house—though admittedly in my case the house was a palace—so to be walking down the street in broad daylight felt like a holiday. Almost. Under the laughter and cheering and shouted jokes, I think we were all afraid. I know I was. We all knew the men were being pushed back—the fighting that had once been on the beach and around the harbour was now directly under the gates. We could hear shouts, cries, the clash of swords on shields—and we knew what awaited us if the city fell. And yet the danger didn’t feel real—not to me at any rate, and I doubt if the others were any closer to grasping it. How was it possible for these high walls that had protected us all our lives to fall?