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28 July 2009 @ 10:32 am
The Songs of the Kings  
Okay, I'll talk about The Songs of the Kings by Barry Unsworth. Because I'm not entire sure how I feel about it yet.

To say the least, he is really mean about the Greek heroes. The only character he really has much good to say about is the Priest of Apollo, who dominates half the book. Odysseus is a horribly cruel person who enjoys exploiting others' weaknesses for his own amusement. Telemon Ajax is a big, stupid, blundering oaf. Patroclus almost never speaks, and so far isn't noticed at all in terms of personality, although he is apparently an expert with makeup, which I'm sure is a stab at his sexuality. I'm not entirely sure whether the acknowledgment of him being Achilles' lover makes up for this.

As for Achilles....well:

Achilles was a natural killer. These Mycenaeans were all warlike and brutal, but Achilles was a special case, he enjoyed homicide as a leisure activity...Nothing ever led anywhere, with Achilles, except back to his own pride and perfect, to the gestures with which he endlessly celebrated his own marvelous existence.

It's an interesting story, really. But really, is it necessary to make nearly every character unlikable?

I'll finish it, probably. But I don't know how much these characterizations with affect my own story. I'm not that much a cynic--in fact, I've decided to do my best not to demonize anyone.


See you later, instigator: Bad Education2oudeteron on July 28th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Okay, I haven't actually read this, but doesn't it seem horribly simplified? It sounds like they're making everyone a caricature of some major character trait.
MissTeacakes: chokemissteacakes on July 28th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
It's a little frustrating, to tell the truth. You try to find a decent Trojan War novel, and this is what you come up with...
Zimraphelgranamyr on December 12th, 2010 06:32 am (UTC)
I'm not sure it is possible to make the Mycenaean heroes likeable in the modern sense. The only Greek character in the Iliad that I ever had any sympathy for was Menelaus.
MissTeacakes: on firemissteacakes on December 12th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
Hey, I can make at least some of them likable in the modern sense. But what bothers me is that he doesn't even try. The point, though, is that the downright pessimism shown on the part of the author only makes me dislike him. I don't mind a good dose of cynicism--I've got it, myself--but I find people with a completely negative outlook on the world to be incredibly disagreeable, and I just don't want to associate with them at all.