Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: Odysseus:The Oath by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

History is a witness to great kings and great deeds. All of them etched with golden ink to leave a befitting lesson for the generations to come. Some counted as glory and some considered as mistake. Author Valerio Massimo Manfredi in his latest series takes us back to the time when all of Achian land and Troy were at war. It's all about one man and his will to change the course of history. So has the author done enough justice to the good old tale? Let's try to uncover it. 

A man becomes a hero. As a young boy in Ithaca, Odysseus listens in wonder to his grandfather Autolykos, a man feared by many across the land as a ruthless fighter. He learns of his heritage and a lifelong passion is sparked-to become an adventurer and warrior. In Mycenae, he meets king Eurystheus and learns the terrible story of Hercules-the man with god-like strength who slaughtered his family and punished by the king to undertake impossible tasks to earn absolution. But is Eurystheus the man he says he is? When a child comes to Odysseus in the middle of the night, with another, very disturbing, version of what happened that fateful night, Odysseus embarks on the first of his extraordinary quests. So begins the epic story of Odysseus, the first of two volumes-an adventure of love, war, courage and heroism, weaving from a small rocky island in Greece, to the mighty fall of Troy.

First look at the title and the cover and flashes of reminder can run past a reader's eye. It's a tale which probably has become a famous folklore and a bedtime tale. Lessons have been preached in educational institutions about it and people so many generations down the line still talk about it. It's also about a man who finds himself lost in the tides of time but the book brings forth the best of him in a conventional manner. The blurb talks about Odyssues the great king of Ithaca and his exploits when lands of Greece were ridden with lust of power and glory. 

The story is set of in Ithaca, where a legend has been born. A great tactician blessed with one of the most curious minds and calm demeanor. His legendary soul to be part and parcel of something grave and so huge that it will remain etched in minds of countless generations. His legacy tied up with others who swear by his name and blood. Along with some of the greatest sons of the Greek soil, Odyssesus the man himself has partaken the first steps to rewrite history and remodel the future. But will destiny be as it comes or will it alter it's course? Who's going to be in it for him or who all will live to tell the tale? That's what the story is all about. 

Whenever one treads down the old dusty lanes and visits the shambles of the ruins, the glorified remains of the past it sends a tizzy. Similar is the experience in a book, when it talks about events which weren't a witness to, but these writings and ballads are the remnants of what kings and kingdoms went through to make it a reality. A distant dream in today's time but in those days a hardcore truth. The book discovers it with a grizzly and chilling life of Odysseus. From the war cries of Battle of Troy to the childhood exploits of young boy king. it's a journey which itself is a legendary tale. The battle of wits and glory and the maddening aspect of being one and all is heart warming. The tale of love and the whim to be at the forefront, from being a young boy to become the king of all times it's all described perfectly in the book. There's no aspect, big or small which lefts unseen in the story. There's a certain voodoo charm to the entire saga.

The only possible downside of the story is when Achilles heads to play a more important role possible cutting down the enigma of Odysseus. Though, two legends cannot be at helm but the book is more about Odysseus, so his treatment is richly deserved which becomes less penetrative in the latter half of the story. 

All in all, one cannot lament the fact that they missed the action. It's all there to see and experience in the veins, through the eyes of one of the greatest Greek heroes. The unified lands and the war heroics are barbaric, yet subtle in their approach. The author carefully considers the journey and assembles the best of the best for the readers to experience and pass it on to the future generations. The placid language and simplicity makes it a magnanimous experience. From the signs of it, it's no less than a victory in itself. A book to remember for long. 


4 OUT OF 5    

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