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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Following the best-selling retellings of the Greek myths in Mythos and Heroes, Stephen Fry's bewitching third volume, Troy - concerning love and war, passion and power - is now ready for ordering.    

The story of Troy speaks to all of us - the kidnapping of Helen, a queen celebrated for her beauty, sees the Greeks launch a thousand ships against the city of Troy, to which they will lay siege for 10 whole and very bloody years.  

It is Zeus, the king of the gods, who triggers the war when he asks the Trojan prince Paris to judge the fairest goddess of them all. Aphrodite bribes Paris with the heart of Helen, wife of King Menelaus of the Greeks, and naturally, nature takes its course. 

It is a terrible, brutal war with casualties on all sides as well as strained relations between allies. The Greek's most fearsome warrior, Achilles, argues with King Agamemnon, his commander, over another woman, the Trojan slave Briseis. The consequences lead to terrible tragedies.

In Troy you will find heroism and hatred, love and loss, revenge and regret, desire and despair. It is these human passions, written bloodily in the sands of a distant shore, that still speak to us today.   

It is a myth in which we seek the truth about ourselves and which Stephen Fry brings breathtakingly to life.  

©2020 Stephen Fry (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Troy

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Chapters?

As you listen, the story being read obviously falls into chapters. On your device, however, you will see a 4:20:47 long chapter among other whoppers. Inexcusable. Lazy production, especially with a book where re-listening to individual chapters would be desirable. Should be updated. I hope for a response from Audible.

143 people found this helpful

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More division of chapters needed

Love the plot and narration (I own Mythos and Heroes too), but there seems to be a marked difference in the chaptering style. For instance, there are two large chunks of audio (both four hours long) that comprise the main narrative. There's definitely inter-chapter transitions as Fry moves between the different strands of narratives, but without a clear divvying of them within the navigation itself, it becomes slightly difficult to pause and keep track, or even just to relisten to certain chapters. A lot of guesswork is required, which cuts into the enjoyment a little. Could there be main headings and well as subchapters?

77 people found this helpful

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Learned and pleasant to listen

*SPOILER ALERT*
Unlike in "Mythos" and "Heroes", telling the story of the Trojan War involves presenting a host of characters that eventually end up being in the same place and in the same time. I'll have to listen again to the first part to see how effectively Fry weaves the storylines of Paris, Achilles, Helen, and the city of Troy itself; my first impression is that he (perhaps inevitably) succumbs to the Ariostesque device of "but let's leave X here and get back to Y, whom we left..." I'm afraid this might also depend on Audible's odd division of chapters, since you have several short chunks at the beginning and the end, and then two major 4:20:00 parts in the middle, anf it gets harder to see the structure there (hence the four stars).
As for the story itself, I was expecting the *whole* Trojan cycle, inclusive of the follow-up sagas of Odysseus, Agamemnon and Aeneas, but maybe I overestimated the extent of the material (and I also wasn't expecting so many backstories); as it is - a story of the city of Troy from the foundation to the fateful night, as per the title, plus the stories of the main characters involved - it's already a sizeable story. All the same, I would have loved to hear a bit less about silly Laomedon and more about the feud between Atreus and Thyestes, a story with massive dramatic potential but which regrettably Fry tells in just a couple of lines.
My other point of hesitation is the 2 hours-like part in "Ilium" which is basically a summary, more than a retelling, of that quintessential paradigm of Western (and, arguably, world) literature that is the "Iliad", but I guess that's inevitable: do you set out to write a story of the Trojan cycle only to skip completely such an important part of the Trojan War "because Homer did it best", or do you accept the inevitable and follow Homer sometimes line by line? Fry chooses the latter and I honestly can't blame him, I would find it a difficult choice regardless. Where I think he shines, though, much like he did in his two previous books, is when he patches together (rhapsode-like :D ) all the other previous and following threads of narrative that are *not* part of the "Iliad": this is a praiseworthy achievement because even as a scholar myself it's sometimes hard to piece together a consistent narrative of all the events narrated in this book, and every now and then it's just pleasing to just listen to a good narrator who did the hard work for you!
The performance is as usual wonderful: if you don't like Fry's voices and theatricality, you'll probably find it annoying but if it's your jam, then don't wait any further! All over the story he also intersperses comments on the modern relevance of myth and how we can read and understand Greek myth today, and as usual he also lets his doctrine and his humanity shine through. I recommend it.

19 people found this helpful

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Fry as usual. Engaging, enigmatic and charismatic.

Although you don’t need to, please start with Mythos and Heroes. I’m hoping he does another tour post COVID, talking about the Greek gods and their enthralling stories. Could not recommend more highly. Enjoy!

12 people found this helpful

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More Mythos, less Heroes. Truly exceptional.

Another exceptional piece of work by Mr Fry. Characters and story is brought to life and his masterful story telling will make you want to keep listening for as long as you can!

If you’re like me and found Heroes to be good but the voices he put on quite irritating than don’t worry. Troy only has subtle accent changes and they’re not nearly as grating as Heroes!

Lots of information gets thrown at you early on but don’t be discouraged, all will become clear in the development of the story.

6 people found this helpful

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Stephen Fry doing what he loves.

The story and reading of the book are very good.
The story is engaging and has nice little anecdotes sprinkled across it.
The only criticism a have is that some of the chapters are ridicules long and if you don’t like long recitations of names you may have some difficulties with this book.

6 people found this helpful

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Incredible

Stephen Fry brings the Greek myths to life so vividly I have listened to all 3 related books now and will 100% listen again and again

5 people found this helpful

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Stephen Fry is fantastic as always!

I preordered this as I thoroughly enjoyed Mythos and Heroes and I now can't wait for the Odyssey! I cannot recommend the series enough!

Thank you Mr Fry

3 people found this helpful

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Joyous re-telling

Another momentous story from one of best story tellers around. Stephen manages to escort you back to the time of God's and mortals with a verve and enthusiasm rarely heard.

He is a master at his craft, be it from Victorian England, to a wizarding world, Stephen has transported the listener at ease to be part of the story. Thank you and please keep it up.

3 people found this helpful

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Fry's Achilles Heel

Troy is probably the most well written of Stephen Fry's Mythos books, from a storytelling and characterisation perspective at any rate. I've always found those particular areas to be the weakest links in the series and improvements were definitely needed. That's especially true here, with the fall of Troy being such a well known story and more importantly, a very human-centric one. It also can't help but be compared to the original epic saga, Homer's Iliad.

This was Fry's chance to show his mettle as a writer of literary fiction and to give us a real Greek tragedy. It was his chance to bring these most human of "myths" to life, making us care about them, fear for them, hate them and love them. It was his chance to show us he could develop characters and build relationships, rather than relate events with the occasional dramatical flourish. Unfortunately that doesn't happen, not to the extent that was needed. Instead we get the usual mix of straightforward storytelling, minimal characterisation, mythological factoids, wry asides and observations, and hundreds of faceless names and places that don't stick in the memory.

There are flashes of great storytelling, where the characters come alive, leaving the dry pages of myth, but it's too little and too late. The war doesn't even begin until we're many chapters in, although the story does pick up at this point and gains some much needed focus. Ultimately though, it just left me wanting more, or left me decrying the missed opportunities created by showing us a little humanity and passion. If I don't care about Helen, Achilles, Paris or Troy because they're little more than famous names, then you're going to lose me.

I'm disappointed with what could have been, because in Troy, there are moments that are more engaging than anything in Fry's other Myth books. Unfortunately, this well known story needed to be more focused and character driven than it was, despite some improvements in this area. The move away from the more fantastical elements of Greek mythology warranted something different. Instead, Troy constantly falls back into the more simplistic prose of a fairytale, or the academic observational style a history book.

Even more than Mythos and Heroes before it, Troy doesn't bring anything new to the table, other than the modernisation that can be found in countless numbers of modern retellings. In the end, Homer's Iliad is still the more evocative and memorable Myth.

5.5/10

I made some notes while listening to the audiobook that maybe clarify my thoughts a little better.

- Stephen tells us we don't have to remember all the geography and genealogy but it pops up often early on in the "story". Sometimes whole chapters are spent on largely insignificant individuals because they happen to give birth to a slightly less insignificant offspring. Granted there's usually a story to go along with the process, but they're a lot less interesting than Fry thinks they are. I came here for Troy, give me Troy! Not the tedious family trees and minor players you use in all your myth books to pad out the length.

It's even gotten to the point where we get repeat stories told from a different perspective, but they're largely the same with these shallow characters and brief events. Basically the backstories of all these characters might make for an engaging story but they're given so little time and depth as to be little more than lists of events and deeds. The only plus to this way of writing is the occasional interesting fact we get, one example being the Spartans laconic reply of "if", to a threat they received. I know these pop up in all three Myth books and I do enjoy them, but this isn't QI, or a history book, it's a work of fiction, so maybe try footnotes. These asides, that sometimes go on for pages and pages have never done any favours to these books. They dull the edge of any drama, tension or character development we might be getting. Not only do they break up the flow but they feel out of place in a story, especially here where we're largely dealing with human beings and not mythical creatures.

- The Achilles-Agamemnon dispute is really well voice acted for an audiobook. Fry puts a lot of passion and venom into Achilles' words, given him more character than is apparent by the text.

Or maybe it's just this chapter, stopping for a while to focus on a single character in a short time period. This is the most like a real book, with emotional depth and characterisation, that the Mythos series has ever been.

- How many sons does Prium have?! Turns out it's fifty, he answers this himself in a later chapter. Truly a Trojan horse of a man.

- These people have no real connection to one another because Fry spends so much time on genealogy, geography, facts, observations and the Gods that there is very little in the way of characterisation or depth, and we can't relate to, or get attached to any of the characters. That was a problem in Mythos and Heroes, but here it's a glaring issue because the fall of Troy, real or fictional, is a very human struggle, built on a foundation of the actions of a very few people; Paris, Helen, Achilles, Odeseus, Hector...

- No time was spent on the relationship between Achilles and Petroclus, only the amount of time a historian might spend on mentioning that an important person had an occasional lover. There's no drama until it's too late, at least in this regard. I've never cared about anyone in these, pseudo stories, but to give it credit, Troy comes closest of the Mythos three.

- Hector and Achilles is rather lacklustre and like a lot of events during larger battles seems to take place entirely apart from it. How did we get to that moment, there's no real buildup or drama.

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  • DFK
  • 27-11-20

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

I said that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” in my review of one of the previous volumes. I felt it even more, here. Stephen Fry is a delight to listen to, and I doubt anyone could have done a better job with the story of the Trojan War and all the myths that accompany it. But I wasn’t impressed with the Odyssey and the Iliad in high school, and though 50+ years later I have come to appreciate many books that I didn’t enjoy so much in high school (Dickens, whom I now love, for example), this has not improved with (my) age. War for no good reason. Maybe no war has a really good reason, but this is totally absurd, and they know it. The gods on this side or that. On and on and on. So much hyperbole: the most beautiful, the most valuable, the most powerful. Eh. “Love” for the shallowest of reasons. There are books about war (War and Peace, Stalingrad are two of the best) that can evoke all the emotions and be real, presenting real characters who are developed with all the human flaws. At the every end, in his appendix, Fry says that these stories show all the human weaknesses: envy, pride, lust, etc. and no one has ever done it better than Homer. I beg to differ. I know that these stories are part of the canon and are part of our vocabulary and so I took my medicine. But I can think of so many modern great books that do it better: Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities, and so many other great works do it better. I imagine that Shakespeare fans would also think Shakespeare did it better. So, if you need to learn about the mythology of the Trojan War, maybe no one can do it better than Fry, but I am not a convert to appreciating the greatness of this ancient literature.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dr Thomas
  • 28-12-20

Outstanding!!

Would give 10 stars if possible.
I’ve listened to Mythos and Hero’s several times and no doubt it will be the same for Troy!

Hoping and praying he’ll cover the Odyssey next.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Wise man from the east
  • 04-06-21

excellent story superbly read

Absolutely a great story interpreted by Stephen Fry. Draws you in and keeps you hooked. Now waiting for the Odyssey.

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  • Julian
  • 26-05-21

Amazing

Beautifully written, and beautifully narrated. An amazing introduction to the Troy myth. Noy meant for academics or specialists, which only makes it more fun and amazing.

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  • Carol Yesenia Diaz Sabillon
  • 18-05-21

The Best of Troy

Again a great recount of the popular story. Great narration by the author SF. As Myths and Heroes is bringing the classical to a modern era without losing the essence of the story.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-05-21

Can't wait for the next instalment: Odysseus!

I've read all three books in this series and cannot get enough. Stunning, gripping, simply amazing!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-05-21

loved it!

such a beautiful telling of a wonderful story. Great job as always. Cant wait for more.

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  • annasarp
  • 06-04-21

totally worth it

I've read the iliad and odyssey and I've read Stephen fry's mythos and heros. I really enjoyed this one!

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  • Konan fisk
  • 03-04-21

Fantastic

Just like Stephen Fry's previous Greek books, this book is fantastic. Can't fault it. Hope to see more like it.

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  • Ksenia
  • 26-03-21

Too much war

I loved the first two books of these series but Troy was a bit disappointing because there is too much war for my liking. Stephen Fry describes in details who killed who and how the did it. And it takes ages and ages...
But the parts where it is just stories is wonderful as usual