Gr 4-6--Gory battles dominate this rendering of the ancient epic. A thorough prologue provides background details that set the story near the beginning of the Trojan War. Achilles, who is angry with Agamemnon, refuses to fight with the Greek army. After losing his best friend, he rejoins the battle and avenges Patroclus's death by killing Hector. Gods and goddesses join in the willful contests that propel this story. In a brief epilogue, the war ends with the infamous Trojan Horse; a helpful cast of characters is also included. Strachan carefully follows the action of the original story but eschews oral tradition and brings this version, which reads like a made-for-television movie script, into the `90s. The ancient bard relied heavily on epithets, metaphor, simile, and formalized language; Strachan has boiled out all the flavor of Homer. Well-executed, neo-classic illustrations that depict the action are generously spread throughout. Though the human figures look more European than Greek, the battle gear and costumes appear authentic, and Ambrus uses watercolor in striking ways to portray bloody battle scenes. If students are clamoring for the Greek epics, this is an acceptable purchase.--Angela J. Reynolds, West Slope Community Library, Portland, OR
An illustrated retelling of the events of Homer's tale, focusing primarily on the battles between the Greeks and the Trojans after Achilles stomps off in a huff over Agamemnon's arrogance and insults. In an extremely crowded field, this version from Strachan (The Flawed Glass, 1990, etc.) has several virtues. While explaining everything clearly, it does not condescend to its target audience. The flowing prose makes no attempt to mimic Homer, but is possessed of a rhythm of its own. Its main advantage, however, is found in the vigorous descriptions of the fighting, matched by Ambrus's atmospheric picturesgory but not too realistic. Strachan, although a bit forward about Hector's private name for his son, Scamandrius (a.k.a. Astyanax), pitches the story toward those who are keen for the "exciting parts," and readers will cheer and moan over the battles. Those who elect to read this aloud may succeed in converting members of the Mortal Kombat generation to fans of Homer's epic story.