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I am preparing to teach a unit on Ancient Greece and mythology to my kids and their homeschool co-op. Black Ships before Troy is the version of the Iliad that they were assigned. I found this version to be perfectly appropriate for both my daughter (8) and my son (12), though both of them have a fairly refined sense of story and have been exposed to a lot of different kinds of literature.
Black Ships is beautifully written and even uses much of the verbiage from the epic poem to retain the imagery that resonates through Homer's Iliad. What it leaves out is the many details such as the listings of the various commanders and kings and how many ships were under their authority, among other types of details that may be lost on children. The interplay between the gods and men is retained and the feelings and emotions of the characters throughout the story are beautifully portrayed. The essence of the Iliad is perfectly intact, making this a perfect introduction of a foundational story to young audiences.
For younger children, the scene in which Hector's body is dragged is hard to take--it is supposed to be, and elicited strong reactions from my children and gave us material for discussion. Why did Achilles do what he did? What kind of things can grief do to a person? What should he have done, and do you think he could have resolved this a different way? The redeeming factor is that Hector's body is preserved by the gods, so that helped a bit.
I found the reading of this retelling of the Iliad for a younger audience to be a definite enrichment to the literary lives of my children and highly recommend it. We listened over lunch every day and in the car and couldn't wait for the next chance to turn it on. Five stars all the way around.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I've listened to it 23 times.It is a great performance and has a feel of Ancient Greece.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful