The Historical Novel Society has selected Dragonflies as one of their key titles for this month, slotting it in for as Editor's Choice Selection.
The ancient Greeks were masters of the written word. From Homer, to Euripides, to Thucydides, their stories of human pathos pulse with a power that, on the whole, is unparalleled in modern literature. A recent resurgence of popular interest in The Iliad, Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War, has led many writers to try their hand at retelling some portion of the story. Buday may not be the first, but he is definitely one of the best.
When Dragonflies begins, ten years have passed since Paris “…arrived in Sparta wearing an indigo robe trimmed with pearl, crocodile sandals with gold clasps, his hair perfect, while all Helen had to look forward to was cotton dyed in onion skin. So off she went, taking half the treasury with her.” Hector and Achilles are dead, and the Greeks have splintered into factions that hate each other more than they hate the Trojans. Desperate to achieve his dream of conquering Troy, Agamemnon asks Odysseus to devise a plan of victory.
This first-person account of the final weeks of the Trojan War is written in Odysseus’s voice. Filled with longing for his wife and son, Odysseus takes a paternal interest in the welfare of his two young servants, Sinon and Dercynus, but once he conceives the plan for the gigantic wooden horse with its bellyful of soldiers, the fate of both boys becomes entwined with his own. Although Buday adds his own variations to the story, he holds true to the emotional power of the original. Here on the field beneath the walls of Troy are gathered warriors, commanders, and kings whose pride and stubbornness affect all. Violence and hope mingle. Troy falls. The gods laugh. And Homer smiles with delight. Highly recommended for anyone with a passion for the ancient world.