War Music: An Account of Books 1-4 and 16-19 of Homer's Iliad

Christopher Logue

Book cover

I’m glad I read this, and I really appreciate what Logue was trying to do, but I also thought it was pretty uneven. (For those who are unfamiliar, this is a sort of “reboot” of parts of the Iliad–an extremely loose translation, written based on other translations rather than by someone who could read the original Greek.)

I have previously only read the Iliad in the very staid Lattimore translation. Reading Logue is very much more like reading poetry, in both the good and the bad ways. There are certain passages that soar and really gave me a sense of immediacy, but others where I felt lost or confused about what was going on. (The best parts, I thought, were the theophanies, where gods or goddesses enter the field of battle. Logue does an excellent job of portraying their disturbingly alien natures.) It’s a difficult path to tread, I guess, because while the Iliad is a poem, it’s also a very good and interesting story, and it’s hard to relay both together. Perhaps it’s best that there are translations written in both styles; no need for one to be all things to all people. I would certainly not recommend this book to anyone as their first reading of the Iliad though!

I have recently started playing Dungeons & Dragons with some friends, and got some good inspiration from this book for epic/heroic tone!

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars