Book review: An Iliad – A Story of War by Alessandro Baricco

I seem to be reading a lot of this fella’s stuff at the moment. His writing really appeals to me. It’s thought-provoking and beautifully crafted without going overboard on metaphors.
I had high hopes for An Iliad because I’m a bit of a greek mythology buff which is why I dived straight in right after reading Silk.
And that might not have been the best idea.


An Illiad is the story of the Trojan War told from a range of perspectives:
heroes (alive, dead or about to be killed); kings, prophets; slaves … at one point, even the river outside Troy has its say.  It’s more approachable (and shorter) than Homer’s original work, but I think the style of it wasn’t particularly to my liking. I don’t mind working a bit harder for a good read, but I’m a bit of a stickler for consistency, and the prose tended to meander between the comic-book and the poetic. The battle scenes were bloody and magnificent, but weren’t overcooked. Baricco deliberately kept the gods out of it which allows the reader to focus on the men: their fear, their loneliness; their petty jealousies; but mainly their egos. Let’s face it, the whole ten years was about one man’s ego so it’s no surprise there was plenty of it to go around.
I did enjoy the book as a whole, I think. It was originally written in Italian, so I wonder if perhaps some of the original feel of the book was lost in translation. I should probably learn Italian and find out.
Although I didn’t like it as much as Silk, I haven’t lost faith in Mr Barricco. I’m going to read Without Blood next, and in the meantime give An Iliad six out of ten.

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