Review- A Thousand Ships (Blogmas Day Six)

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

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In A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective.

This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them…

In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash . . .

The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all…

Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.

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Sing, Muse, he says, and the edge in his voice makes it clear that this is not a request.

There have been quite a few of these Greek myth retellings from the perspective of women lately, and I have loved ever single one of them. Circe by Madeleine Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker are two of my favourite books of the last couple years, but somehow A Thousand Ships has manage to surpass both of those. It has even made me want to read The Iliad and The Odyssey, which is quite the feat. I have my eye on the Emily Wilson translations of The Odyssey, and I have heard she is also working on a translation of The Iliad. I have heard it is excellent!

Back to A Thousand Ships. What makes it so fantastic is the sheer amount of characters that we hear from. Even though I haven’t read the source material, I recognize many of the names and was intrigued by their stories. I would be more than willing to read full length novels entirely from each of their perspectives.

One thing I will say is that I wish the book explored Helen more. We heard a lot about what other women thought of her, and I think it would have added another layer to the story if her motivations and experiences were more fleshed out.

I am not at all surprised to see that A Thousand Ships was shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction. It is brilliant. Natalie Haynes recently released a collection called Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, which I will definitely be treating myself to this Christmas!

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me an ARC.

  • Characters: 9
  • Atmosphere/Setting: 10
  • Writing Style:  10
  • Plot: 9
  • Intrigue: 9
  • Logic/Relationships: 9
  • Enjoyment: 9

Overall CAWPILE score: 65/7=9.2

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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12 thoughts on “Review- A Thousand Ships (Blogmas Day Six)

  1. “There have been quite a few of these Greek myth retellings from the perspective of women lately, and I have loved ever single one of them.” Yes! Me too! There is simply everything right about NEW stories about OLD thing but about women!! I am here for them all.

    I can vouch for the Emily Wilson translation of The Odyssey. I mean I’m no expert but it reads really well.

  2. Great review, I’m glad to see you loved this one! I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about it but I think I’m getting a bit of Greek-myth-retelling fatigue, so perhaps the timing was off for me. I do agree with your point about Helen though- I also thought the moments she’s in the story with other characters were very intriguing, and her dialogue suggested to me that she’s not as evil as the rest of the women see her as; I would’ve been intrigued to see her point of view.

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