The royal family of Mycenae has a bloody, monstrous history. Agamemnon returns with his war trophy, the Trojan Princess Cassandra whom he unthinkingly flaunts before his queen. After an epic sword fight in his own banquet hall, Agamemnon is killed. Cassandra has her nightmares/visions of the gory and unspeakable deeds of the House of Atreus; she is led away to be executed. Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus have their respective reasons, but this regicide must be avenged. Or so say the voices in Orestes' head. He must avenge his father. He must kill the regicides. He must kill his own mother.
But killing one's own mother would break the greatest of ancient taboos and would result in even more voices in his head. Are they just voices? Can they be placated?
|Publisher:||Hock G. Tjoa|
|File size:||405 KB|
About the Author
Hock was born in Singapore to Chinese parents. He studied history and classics at Brandeis and Harvard and taught the History of Modern Europe and of Asian Political Thought at the University of Malaya. He has published George Henry Lewes, a Victorian mind and "The Social and Political ideas of Tan Cheng Lock." He is married with two adult daughters and now lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. In 2010, he published a selection and translation of the Chinese classic, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms under the title "The Battle of Chibi." In 2011, he is publishing an adaptation of Lao She's "Teahouse" as "Heaven is High and the Emperor Far Away, a Play." He published "The Chinese Spymaster," the first of a planned three volume series, and "The Ingenious Judge Dee" in 2013
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite Agamemnon Must Die by Hock G. Tjoa recounts the first play of the Oresteia, a trilogy of tragedies written by Aeschylus, which is the only Greek trilogy that has survived. When Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, prepares to wage war against Troy, he sacrifices his virgin daughter, Iphigenia, and the grieving mother, Queen Clytemnestra, is left to rule the kingdom. She sends the other royal children, Orestes and Elektra, to Anaxibia, and takes the king’s cousin Aegisthus as a lover. After ten years, Mycenae’s night watchman sees the light of the beacon signalling the victory of Agamemnon, who eventually comes home with his war trophy, the now pregnant Cassandra, princess of Troy. What follows is another murderous chapter in Mycenae’s history as Agamemnon is killed and Orestes is forced to come home to avenge his father’s murder. Agamemnon Must Die focuses on the chain of events in Greek mythology that lead to Agamemnon’s death. What happened to Mycenae’s king after he emerged victorious in the Trojan War? For readers who are not very familiar with Aeschylus' Oresteia, this is a refreshing and informative book. Author Hock G. Tjoa succeeds in blending the archaic and a new style of writing to tell the fascinating story leading to Agamemnon’s murder. Using prose and epic poetry in retelling this tragedy reveals an all too human experience that young and old readers alike can relate to. This is a story of revenge and jealousy that is all too familiar in any story from Greek mythology. Because it is partly told from the point of view of the night watchman, it almost feels like watching the story unravel before your very eyes!
This was one of the most unique books I have had the pleasure of reading. It is both prose and poetry, and bravely delves into the murder of poor Iphigenia by her ruthless father, Agamemnon, and the not surprising hatred that act births in Iphigenia’s mother, Clytemnestra. Then it goes on to the affair between Clytemnestra and Aigisthos and the affair (probably not consensual) between Agamemnon and Cassandra, the return of Agamemnon from Troy, and his own murder, which of course sparks the story of Orestes. The protagonists of this story are beautifully fleshed out—even Cassandra, a secondary character: her torment and madness, if it was indeed madness and not divine Sight. The entire book is a lovely yet keen character study, not only for Clytemnestra, a woman with whom I have long sympathized, but also Orestes and Aigisthos, plus we have history and myth delicately woven in. The second part of the story goes into a fierce argument between the Furies and Apollo, and later between the Furies and Athena, as Athena takes up Apollo’s side. Apollo seems to suggest that as power has passed to men, it’s no big deal to kill one’s mother, and though he says, “the senseless cycles of murder must end,” he seems to have perpetuated it. He of course wants Orestes pardoned for his crimes, but the Furies do not agree. They ask, pointedly, “For the son killed his mother. Are mothers less than fathers and kings? Do they not deserve to be avenged?” A good question! This is a story that has long needed to be written. I myself can remember reading of the myths for many years, and seeing, again and again, Clytemnestra cursed and condemned on all fronts for the murder of Agamemnon, while Agamemnon slipped away from any judgment for what he did. The Furies speak a warning which resonated with me: “The day will come when gods and men will rue this day…” and “The day will come, you will wish the Erinyes were still with you and your farms and cities.” I enjoyed this book immensely. It spoke well to my sense of fair play and has added to the richness of Greek stories and myths.
I always find it harder to review books given to me by the author instead of a publisher. Something about the direct contact with the person whose passion I am critiquing always makes me question how honest I am being. I will further preface this review by saying, this is a wonderfully researched work. Where I feel that this story falls somewhat is in the telling. While the language and dialog are very accurate as relating to historic texts, I feel there was some room for a little more punch. This story reads more like a chapter from Edith Hamilton or Bullfinch, which is to say it is entertaining but a bit dry. The blending of speech and lyricism didn't work for me. It was such a dramatic different from the pace of the dialog that it disoriented the story a bit and kept me from being in tune with the characters. The dialog itself is a bit short and clipped and at times hard to follow. When more than two characters are interacting, there is no direction after the quotation as to who is speaking. That is not to say that Mr. Tjoa should turn this into a Game of Thrones just to suit today's audience. But I do believe a little more flair and robust language would raise this above the academic reader it resembles.