Black Ships, a retelling of the Aeneid

Borrowed from

This is the story of Gull, an oracle that sails with Aeneas and the refuges of the fallen city of Troy, to find a new homeland. It retells Virgil’s Aeneid–for those who don’t know, that’s a classic epic written during the beginning of the Roman Empire. It’s a story of travel through the Eastern Mediterranean, and in the end, of the founding of Rome.

I would recommend this book for those of us who love mythology and ancient history. And for anyone who loves Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, as it’s very much told in the same style. The author even cites Bradley as an influence in the book’s extras. For those who prefer action, be aware that there isn’t a lot of it.

The tone of the book is one of impending destiny. There’s always the sense that this is the will of the gods, especially the Lady of the Dead (who appears to be the Greek Persephone and the Egyptian Isis). But there’s also a sense that this is the story of how the descendants of a formerly great civilization struggle to keep their society alive after it’s been destroyed.

This is based on one of the stories of Rome’s founding, the story that connects the history of Rome to the great epics of Greece, to the Iliad and the Odyssey. Though Gull is the point of view character, the focus is Aeneas’ journey. Aeneas was a prince of Troy during the Trojan War, in Homer’s epic. He survived the fall of Troy. In the Aeneid, he traveled to Italy.

The Author’s Note is interesting to look at as well, as it explains some of the choices Graham made that differed from the Aeneid. Especially the change in setting for Dido’s part of the story.

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