Another very sad, beautiful book

Age of Bronze: Sacrifice by Eric Shanower

Breaking news: I’m a huge nerd. Shocking I know. However, in the words of John Green (who I am still mad at for writing that horrible, beautiful book) “nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff”. Stuff like the Trojan Wars, and Greco-Roman mythology and history generally, if you’re me.

So Age of Bronze is the story of the Trojan War in a graphic novel. Sacrifice is the second one. No, I haven’t read the first, yes I’d like to but in this case it’s not that important ’cause I already know the story. There will be spoilers in this blurb, if you can call revealing details on an ancient myth spoilers.

Of course there are BAZILIONS (could be a word right?) of retellings of this story, starting obviously with Homer and running all the way up to that terrible movie that came out a few years ago, with Brad Pitt and Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom. Because I am a nerd I’ve seen and read quite a few. They are all different of course. For example, the Brad Pitt movie decided to appeal to (straight) women by have a ton of hot, barely dressed men running around while Marion Zimmer Bradley went with a feminist re-imagining based on Kassandra, one of Priam’s overlooked daughters.

So, because there’s a real danger of this post becoming something like an English essay, I’m just going to talk about a few things that I really liked about the story. The first one was the delightful Achilles/Patroklus relationship. I was impressed 1) that they didn’t write it off in some lame way like the movie Troy did (cousin my ass) 2) I liked that it was a little truer to the ancient Greek paiderastia, (oh yeah I stole the spelling of that from Wikipedia) which is an interesting and important relationship (whether or not Homer intended it to come across that way the other Greeks did) and 3) because it felt like one of the very few genuinely affectionate relationships in the whole story. Sure Helen was into Paris and Menelaus loved his Helen but watching Achilles and Patroklus fall in love in small, gradual steps was just a moving and beautiful love story.

Made all the worse knowing how it ends.

This is also the first re-telling I think I’ve ever read where I felt pity for Agamemnon. In this version he’s not just a greedy bastard who wants to own Troy to further his glory, although of course that is part of it and he doesn’t heartlessly sacrifices his daughter to the Gods’ for safe passage. He is a king trapped on all sides, by an army he can barely control, by a wife who hates him, by a long, tragic family history that curses him and love for his family. He’s one of the most tortured characters in the story, torn between his duty and his family. His struggle is weirdly moving, even though it does end in him murdering his own daughter.

Which was my other favourite part, and by favourite I mean I cried. The death of Iphigenia was really lovely. In most of the stories of the Trojan war she comes across as an extremely unintelligent doorknob who more or less walks into her father’s knife trying to find Achilles in the dark. In this one, she realizes that although her mother and Achilles are willing to fight and die for her, that will end up with them all, well, dead and the best course of action for her mother, her father and this guy she met like six minutes ago but is totally in love with, is for her to willing go to her death. Hence the title of the novel. It was really, really well done and, in a story were ninety eight percent of the women are either crazy, evil or completely powerless I thought it was a really powerful moment.

As well, if this was a movie it would be rated R no question. Not only is there a ton of nudity and sex and drinking and violence and rape it all kind of happens in neat little pictures. But since it’s a graphic novel, it hangs out in the teen section. I mean, I think that they can handle it, I just find our strange desire to control what our children are exposed to weirdly lopsided.

Anyway, that is the end of that very long, Greekish post.

Last movie I watched: The new Three Musketeers. It was all right I guess. I mean, the story was closer to the original than usual, but there were blimps. I don’t know what that says about it.

Last TV show I watched: CHUCK!! Love Chuck.

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