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.
This was definitely one of the top hyped books of 2020 and like all hyped up books, I was worried it wouldn’t live up to it but it totally did! I absolutely loved it and couldn’t put it down.
A Thousand Ships is the story of one of the world’s most epic wars but from a whole new perspective. Of course we learn of Achilles, Hector, Odysseus and the other heroes of this time, but Haynes also introduces us to the women behind this war and the roles that they played.
It wasn’t just the beautiful Helen who was at the heart of the Trojan war. There were other daughters, sisters, mothers and goddesses who not only played key roles in the story but were also instrumental to the war happening in the first place. This book not only gives a refreshing take on a well known story, but it taught me so much that I didn’t know.
I won’t lie, I am familiar with the story of Troy but I also think about Brad Pitt and Eric Bana when picturing it, which is a slightly limited view on one of the greatest wars of ancient times. A Thousand Ships is so magical in how it reveals the many secrets that made the Trojan war what it is and how calculated it was. It wasn’t just man who was behind it, there were many driving forces from the gods and beyond. I genuinely thought the war was centred around Menelaus wanting to get revenge on Paris taking Helen but it goes so far beyond that. They were merely pawns in a bigger plan curated the gods and what a well thought out and manipulative plan it was.
The way the women are depicted is excellent. At the beginning of the book, Haynes thankfully has family trees for the characters as there are so many of them. However, as the book progresses you begin to recognise the key traits of each character and it’s easy to remember who is who. From Hecabe’s strong maternal instincts, to Cassandra’s troubled and burdened mind, to Aphrodite’s manipulative and fierce beauty.
I love the muse' tone and how she narrates the story. It's blunt, to the point and slightly passive aggressive which adds a nice under tone of humour. The storytelling in itself is also really nicely done. Haynes doesn't try to over complicate things by telling the story in complicated English filled with riddles and strange nuances. The story is told in a way that is still epic and magical but is also accessible to all readers.
In summary, even if you’re not into Greek mythology, this is well worth a read. It’s similar to The Nightingale in how it uncovers the untold tales of women in war and the pivotal roles that they play. Through these women, we learn that the Trojan war is not just a story of heroes and gods, it is also the epic tale of heroines and goddesses.
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'And I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows. I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold. I have picked up the old stories and and I have shaken them until the hidden women appear in plain sight. I have celebrated them in song because they have waited long enough. Just as a I promised him; this was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. A war does not ignore half the people whose lives it touches. So why do we?'
This is so hard, honestly all of the characters were so strong and each brought so much to the story. I loved Briseis and Andromache and feel their stories really stayed with me, despite not even being the main stories. But I honestly thought all of the characters were brought to life so well.