Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Iliad ~ Homer

I cannot describe the sense of achievement that I feel at having completed The Iliad today after several studious months.

The title The Iliad actually means ‘What Happened at Ilion’, Ilion being the capital of Troy.  The Greeks and the Trojans have been battling it out for the past ten years, and The Iliad is set in the final year.

There are plenty of boring references to who is fighting, who is killed and who they are the son of and various family histories, but the story itself is quite amazing.  I loved the references to the gods, and how they interfere. I enjoyed Nestor who is a legend in his own lunch box, and the overall tale of the doomed Achilles and how his pride results in the death of his friend Patroclus.  

I could not have read this and enjoyed it as much as I did if it hadn't been for the Shmoop Study Guide.  It takes you point by point, book by book (there are 24 books to The Iliad) so that you have a full understanding of the meaning being portrayed in the poem, but it does so in a light hearted manner which makes it a great fun read on it’s own.

I read the translation by George Chapman, and whilst it was hard going once I found the rhythm of the poem and got to know the characters and the gods I found it hugely enjoyable.

Next year I’m going to tackle The Odyssey.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Great Expectations ~ Charles Dickens

I felt the need to do another Dickens, which is how it should be considering it is Dickens’ 200th Birthday year.

Great Expectations is more of a plot driven novel compared to some of his other work, and not as long as David Copperfield or Bleak House.

I did the audio book (narrated by Simon Vance) and although I enjoyed it very much I found that I kept drawing comparisons to David Copperfield and I found that I didn’t like Pip half as much as David.  Pip is a blacksmith’s boy who is told he is to come into Great Expectations.  He immediately believes it to be from the dotty but wealthy Miss Haversham whom he visits.

As soon as Pip receives his good news he basically doesn’t take a second glance back at his home, his village or his friends.  I did not like that in his character at all, expecially when it means forgetting the lovely Joe Gargery his brother-in-law and father figure.  When Pip finally receives the news of his benefactor, it comes as a bit of a shock, and worse still it looks like he’s not going to come into his money after all, it is then that he finds out who his real friends are.

It’s a moral tale, and for a quick Dickens read it’s a good one.  But, for my money give me David Copperfield every time.


Ancestor ~ Scott Sigler

You might think I’m a Scott Sigler addict, having read two of his novels recently and now reading Ancestor in tandem with his latest novel Nocturnal.

The Ancestor is a biological embryo,  implanted into cows, and grown to provide human ready organs for transplantation.  However, of course, things don't quite go to plan.  There is lots of blood and lots of violence, and if you love cows then don't read this novel!!

The writing isn’t first class, but it’s addictive and reflective of Sigler’s personality from what I can glean from the u-tube videos he’s posted. The characters are unbelievable but mostly fun, and there is plenty of real biology and science to make the plot plausible.

However,  I felt quite confused at the beginning of this novel, not really knowing what was going on, and I found the swearing a bit overboard this time.  The last third of the novel did border on silly in my opinion, even though I had suspended my disbelief, I kept thinking back to the movie Starship Troopers and how much the Ancestors reminded me of the bugs even though they were based on cows!

Nice try but this one didn't really work for me.