“With her trademark passion, wit, and fierce feminism, Natalie Haynes gives much-needed voice to the silenced women of the Trojan War.”—Madeline Miller, author of Circe
Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, a gorgeous retelling of the Trojan War from the perspectives of the many women involved in its causes and consequences—for fans of Madeline Miller.
This is the women’s war, just as much as it is the men’s. They have waited long enough for their turn . . .
This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of them all . . .
In the middle of the night, a woman wakes to find her beloved city engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over. Troy has fallen.
From the Trojan women whose fates now lie in the hands of the Greeks, to the Amazon princess who fought Achilles on their behalf, to Penelope awaiting the return of Odysseus, to the three goddesses whose feud started it all, these are the stories of the women whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war.
A woman’s epic, powerfully imbued with new life, A Thousand Ships puts the women, girls and goddesses at the center of the Western world’s great tale ever told.
Title: A Thousand Ships
Author: Nathalie Haynes
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Adult
Content and Trigger warnings:
abandonment, imprisonment, murder, neglect, physical and psychological abuse, mention of rape, slavery, war
Learn about the stories of women impacted by the Trojan War in this striking novel, told from multiple points of view.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and I’d like to thank the publisher for their trust. This does not affect my opinion nor the content of my review.
I am now using the CAWPILE rating system. If you want to know more, please visit my explanation page.
They were many characters, women and man alike, and I had some difficulties to remember and differentiate them. Some characters are present from beginning to end — Calliope, Penelope retelling the adventures of her husband Odysseus, the Trojan queen and princesses (Hecabe, Polyxena, Cassandra, and Andromache) — some were just there for one chapter. Each of these women had a story to tell — their own — and each was unique. But it felt a bit overwhelming at times, and not every story was captivating. My favorites were Laodamia’s story, Cassandra’s point of view, and Penelope’s letters (dripping with sarcasm).
The main setting of this book is, of course, Troy, but some of these women’s stories also happened — or ended — in Greece. Some stories also took place on Mount Olympus. As I previously read The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, these locations were not unfamiliar, but Natalie Haynes does a good job of describing the different places. It’s not difficult to keep track of it. Finally, Nathalie Haynes managed to create a haunting ambiance, full of grief and horrors, and yet, with a sparkle of hope in the middle of it all. We can only be inspired by these women’s tales.
Writing Style: 6/10
Natalie Haynes’ way of writing didn’t particularly strike me: some sentences were pretty, but I found the whole pretty much basic — which isn’t a bad thing. The strong point of A Thousand Ships lays in its composition. Indeed, if the main arc follows the Trojan women on the shore, the rest of the stories are chapter-long novellas. I liked that, even if sometimes my motivation faltered.
And I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows. I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold. I have picked up the old stories and I have shaken them until the hidden women appear in plain sight. I have celebrated them in song because they have waited long enough. Just as I promised him: this was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them. A war does not ignore half the people whose lives it touches. So why do we?A Thousand Ships, Nathalie Haynes
As the Trojans women waited on the shore for their fate, I waited for the plot to thicken. A Thousand Ships is a continuation of short stories, whose purpose is to depict a bigger picture of war. The plot is a thin line that resides in the Trojan women’s chapters: what will happen to them? Nothing much happens otherwise, and I am a bit disappointed by this aspect, hence the rating.
Nonetheless, I grew intrigued by the story of these women. If at first, I had some difficulties caring about this book, I slowly grew fond of it, wanting to know about these women and what would happen to them. Once I had accustomed to the novella style of A Thousand Ships, I enjoyed the journey way more. Even the humor, which I felt flat at the beginning in the mouth of Calliope, amused me through Penelope’s letters.
In its wholeness, the book isn’t illogical, I can’t say that. However, there isn’t a continuous timeline. The plot goes back and forth in time and it was a bit unsettling. Moreover, no exact timeline is given and it’s up to the reader to remember what happened before, what will happen, and to link every chapter together. It’s not a question of logic as it is, but it makes the first half of the book somewhat vague, fuzzy.
Overall, it was a lovely book, and I learned a lot from these women. I enjoyed my reading more towards the end, and I do not regret reading it. I even recommend it!
Final rating: 44/70 (score of 6.3)
By reading A Thousand Ships, you’ll found out every hero we are still told of are not that great, nor that heroic. You’ll love A Thousand Ships if you love The Song of Achilles, Greek Mythology, and feminist stories.