A Thousand Ships

Harper. Jan. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780063065390. $27.99. F
The story of the Trojan War is an old and familiar one. Here again are the Greek aggressors, the besieged Trojans, and the sneaky wooden horse. This time around, Haynes (The Children of Jocasta) focuses on the women—those left behind to await their husbands and sons and those who become enslaved after their men have been defeated. Prominent among them are Hecabe, the once proud queen of Troy, brought low by the loss of her husband and sons; her daughter Cassandra, cursed to foresee the future but thought too unstable to be believed; and Penelope, whose aggrieved letters to Odysseus, her long-lost husband, punctuate the drama. The long war is set in motion by one more woman, the earth goddess Gaia, whose arms can no longer bear the weight of the world and who decides that war is the best way to reduce the population.
VERDICT If there is any need for one more trip down this well-traveled road after Madeline Miller’s Circe and Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, this lively reinvention is worth the journey.
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