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10 thoughts on “Black Ships

  1. Jane Jane says:

    Arma virumque canoI sing of arms and the man Virgil states the theme to his epic, The AeneidMultosque per annos errabant acti fatis maria omnia circumAnd many a year they wandered, driven by the fates o er all the seas I was drawn to this book by the title and by J.M.W Turner s classic painting, Aeneas and the Sybil, Lake Avernus , illustrating one of the episodes of the epic and of the novel The picture is one of my favorites I enjoyeArma virumque canoI sing of arms and the man Virgil states the theme to his epic, The AeneidMultosque per annos errabant acti fatis maria omnia circumAnd many a year they wandered, driven by the fates o er all the seas I was drawn to this book by the title and by J.M.W Turner s classic painting, Aeneas and the Sybil, Lake Avernus , illustrating one of the episodes of the epic and of the novel The picture is one of my favorites I enjoyed this novel, the author s interpretation of Virgil s original Aeneid It was told from the point of view of the eponymous Sibyl in the painting The Sibyl in the novel is Gull, the daughter of a Greek father and of a Trojan Troy herein called Wilusa slave, at the city of Pylos in western Greece After an unfortunate accident as a youngster, Gull is taken by her mother to live with the local Pythia or Oracle The Pythia discovers Gull has the gift of prophecy, when the girl describes her horrific vision of black ships, a burning city and the escape of these ships amid enemy attack The Pythia teaches Gull her rituals Gull is able to speak with The Lady of the Dead , as Persephone is called, and to prophesy Gull becomes the new Pythia upon the older woman s death Years after the original vision, the same ships land at Pylos to rescue enslaved Trojans Gull goes with them and becomes advisor to Prince Aeneas in his search for a new land where his people can begin anew Most of the novel concerns the adventures and hardships of their journey The novel was an imaginative retelling of the The Aeneid, but narrated by a woman The journey was exciting along the way are sea battles, vicissitudes, storms at sea The ships are continually harried by the vindictive son of Achilles and his fleet The map clearly traced their voyage from Pylos to their final destination Latium and the Seven Hills Rome I liked the characters, especially the charismatic leader, Aeneas the stalwart, faithful ship s captain, Xandros and the strong Gull Instead of Virgil s Carthage the author gave us Egypt, and instead of Queen Dido, with whom Aeneas dallied, she gave us Princess Basetamon I liked the description of the Egyptian festival where lights in clay lamps shaped like boats are floated on the river to honor Isis and Gull s explanation to Xandros This reminded me of the Japanese Floating Lantern Festival I liked the episode where Gull takes Aeneas and his companions to the Underworld Gull and the others have found the Golden Bough , giving them permission to enter the Underworld when they show it to Charon, the Ferryman Written in a simple style and interesting but for some boring patches here and there, I read it in a matter of hours I also appreciated the extra material in the book Author s Note People, Places and Things and the interview with the author, plus the aforementioned map.Highly recommended for those interested in retellings of classical literature


  2. Iset Iset says:

    I dread having to review books like this mediocre books A bad novel One can let loose with witty criticisms A good novel One can gush effusive praise But when it comes to reviewing a mediocre novel, I struggle to saythan simply meh.First, I should note that this book wasn t at all what I expected it would be From the title, Black Ships, and the mention of Troy standing out prominently in the blurb, I was expecting another Trojan War novel It is actually set in the aftermath of t I dread having to review books like this mediocre books A bad novel One can let loose with witty criticisms A good novel One can gush effusive praise But when it comes to reviewing a mediocre novel, I struggle to saythan simply meh.First, I should note that this book wasn t at all what I expected it would be From the title, Black Ships, and the mention of Troy standing out prominently in the blurb, I was expecting another Trojan War novel It is actually set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, and is a retelling of the Aeneid rather than the Iliad I was rather enjoying it through the first quarter of the book, reading about the protagonist, a girl named Gull, apprenticed to the Pythia and learning all the rituals and secrets of wielding spiritual power It reminded me of Laura Gill s Danae and Kerry Greenwood s Medea Maybe I just relish a good coming of age tale that delves in deep to the most fascinating and esoteric parts of an alien historical culture The one odd note was that the Pythia here is a prophetess of the goddess Persephone, whereas in ancient Greek myth it was the god Apollo who presided over such priestesses, not Persephone.It was when Aeneas showed up and Gull joins the wandering Trojans searching for a new home that the book began to lose me Jo Graham takes a completely different route to the Aeneas of Virgil s epic, which adds an element of novelty to the tale, with some uncertainty and tension to drive things forward In fact, I can easily empathise with her author s note which explains that in order to avoid the small problem of the Carthaginians not existing yet in the late Bronze Age, she moved the action to Egypt instead But even so, I felt that the novel felt apart It was no longer a heroic epic, or even an adventure story It became a family saga.I was bored by the hints of a love triangle between Gull, Xandros, and Aeneas I didn t care about the Trojan community Gull becomes so entwined in I felt like I hadn t been given a reason to care beyond the baseline these unfortunate refugees deserve sympathy It was a little too sanitised, like a simple fable or morality tale asking me to care about decent folk just because they re decent but not telling me enough about the individual personalities for me to truly invest in their fate I find that interminably dull It wanted me to care about Goody McBoring just because the book says they re decent but without giving me a chance to learn about their winsome quirks or unique sense of humour or their spirit rousing badassery Sure, I wish decent folk well but I don t really care to find out what happens to them unless they rethan just a blandly polite fa ade Moreover, the language in this section of the book through to the end just came off as incredibly modern and forced I didn t get the sense of historical people at all.It wasn t by any means terrible, it just took a rather dull, frothy, anachronistic turn after a promising start In other words meh.4 out of 10


  3. Leeanna Leeanna says:

    Black Ships, by Jo GrahamIn the interview at the end of the book, the author says that one of her favorite books is Kushiel s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey I can see a little of the style in Black Ships Gull is a little like Phedre I can t write a summary that would quickly explain Black Ships The book is beautiful, with simple language and descriptions I often found myself slowing down to enjoy the book and not simply racing ahead to finish the story I was totally enthralled with the wo Black Ships, by Jo GrahamIn the interview at the end of the book, the author says that one of her favorite books is Kushiel s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey I can see a little of the style in Black Ships Gull is a little like Phedre I can t write a summary that would quickly explain Black Ships The book is beautiful, with simple language and descriptions I often found myself slowing down to enjoy the book and not simply racing ahead to finish the story I was totally enthralled with the world Graham created, a world where mortals feel the touch of the gods, and do their bidding while still living their own lives The main character is Gull, apprenticed at an early age to a goddess, after a childhood accident changed her value as a slave Black Ships is a re imagining of the Aeneid, and Graham s research and care is evident I want to read the original now, which to me is always the mark of an excellent retelling The author interested me so much in the events and characters, particularly Aeneas, Gull, and Xandros The descriptions of the different civilizations that the Wilusans travel to as they seek a safe harbor were interesting as well, especially ancient Egypt I was captivated in Gull s world the whole time I was reading As I ve said, I find it hard to describe this book, but if you enjoy epic stories, tales of magic mixing with ordinary life, there s a good chance you ll like this book I m reading Graham s second novel now Hand of Isis , and liking it just as much as Black Ships 5 5


  4. Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎ Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎ says:

    The story is a variation of Virgil s Aeneid, the journey of the displaced people of Troy in search of new lands to settle in and the founding of the city that will become Rome.Let s start with the positives The author magically captured the atmosphere of ancient worlds The descriptions of the landscapes in this journey across the Mediterranean and Egypt are exotic and very evocative.What I didn t like The stories is not quite faithful to traditional mythology The author use well known nam The story is a variation of Virgil s Aeneid, the journey of the displaced people of Troy in search of new lands to settle in and the founding of the city that will become Rome.Let s start with the positives The author magically captured the atmosphere of ancient worlds The descriptions of the landscapes in this journey across the Mediterranean and Egypt are exotic and very evocative.What I didn t like The stories is not quite faithful to traditional mythology The author use well known names but changed the myths In my opinion, it would have been better to choose different character names, because famous names carry with them an expectation from the reader For me it was hard to ignore the fact that Phytia is the traditional name for Apollo s priestess and not Demeter s, Iphigenia s story has now changed, Aeneas travels a different route, etc I much preferred Virgil s version of the tragic love story between Aeneas and Dido, queen of Carthage Graham s version with an Egypt princess lacks emotional depth It also did not make sense view spoiler that women and children were allowed to be moved to from Memphis to Sais The excuse is that they followed Aeneas men sent there on patrol mission is not credible, but then it would have been impossible for the author to explain how three ships could sneak away from the Nile delta if they were still in Memphis Carthage of course does not pose the same issue being located on the sea P hide spoiler I didn t feel a connection with the protagonist who remains aloof most of the time, but I suppose that distance and remoteness comes with the job of a seer


  5. Caroline Caroline says:

    I was pulled in by the beautiful cover and the promise of this being The Aeneid, but from a woman s perspective It started off really really good, and actually reminded me a lot of Memoirs of a Geisha, but later it just disappointed me I think my main issue with it was that there were entirely too many characters at times, and I felt the pacing was done poorly At times I felt really rushed through major events, and at others bored with dullness.It wasn t a horrible book, but I can t say I rea I was pulled in by the beautiful cover and the promise of this being The Aeneid, but from a woman s perspective It started off really really good, and actually reminded me a lot of Memoirs of a Geisha, but later it just disappointed me I think my main issue with it was that there were entirely too many characters at times, and I felt the pacing was done poorly At times I felt really rushed through major events, and at others bored with dullness.It wasn t a horrible book, but I can t say I really enjoyed it overall About halfway through, after continually thinking to myself Oh, it ll get better I realized it just wasn t going to, and so finished the chore of reading the rest of it.It was an interesting idea, and I ll give Graham s next book a shot and see if it s any better


  6. Christine Christine says:

    Disclaimer The publisher of this audio book gave me a free copy in return for a fair and honest review I suppose I should note, in all fairness that since the book starts with a quote from Michael Wood s In Search of the Trojan War I knew I was going to like it I should also note I was reading the second volume in this series before being given this, the first, volume It is quite easy to read them out of order and not get confused Black Ships is one of those books that are going to set some Disclaimer The publisher of this audio book gave me a free copy in return for a fair and honest review I suppose I should note, in all fairness that since the book starts with a quote from Michael Wood s In Search of the Trojan War I knew I was going to like it I should also note I was reading the second volume in this series before being given this, the first, volume It is quite easy to read them out of order and not get confused Black Ships is one of those books that are going to set some people s teeth on edge If you are a purist when it comes to Virgil s Aeneid or Homer s Iliad, the chances of you enjoying this book are low If you don t mind changes, not only in perspective but in plot sequence, you should enjoy it Graham starts her story with the daughter of one of the Trojan women taken by King Nestor at the end of the Trojan War Gull starts life as the daughter of newly made slave, eventually becoming a priestess in training Her life radically changes when what remains of her mother s people come to rescue their women From there, the story is that of Aeneas and the founding of the Roman race This journey takes the small group across the Mediterranean Graham s changes to Virgil and Homer make sense in terms of history, though perhaps not the Romans for Carthage does not make an appearance Graham explains the reason for this in her afterword and her adaptation of Dido and Carthage into an Egyptian sequence does work very well Graham does seem aware that she is pushing Gull s role a bit too much to the forefront, and there are varying reactions from male characters to showcase that Gull is different and Gull is not an early feminist by any means It would have been nice if one of Gull s close friends had been another woman, at least in the latter half of the book, for once Gull joins her people, all her equals are men Still Gull makes for interesting center to the story Graham s use of Gull as a Sybil allows her to bring in fantasy elements, but with a light touch Additionally, these elements allow Graham to explore the different faiths that were swirling around and it makes for rather interesting and apt references A quick word about Gigi Shane as the narrator At first, I thought she sounded too much like Siri, but as the book went along I realize that her inflection was intentional to try and capture Gull It actually worked quite well and upon reflection, seems to be close to that of an actual oracle


  7. Nicky Nicky says:

    Black Ships is a retelling of the story of Aeneas flight from Troy with his people, with aspects of it changed and rearranged to fit better with what we really know of history for example, to address the problem of Aeneas visiting Carthage before it is ever founded Dido is replaced by Basetamon, a princess in Egypt Basetamon herself isn t a real historical figure, but the role she plays is certainly possible The relationship between Basetamon and Aeneas, and the impossibilities of it, are Black Ships is a retelling of the story of Aeneas flight from Troy with his people, with aspects of it changed and rearranged to fit better with what we really know of history for example, to address the problem of Aeneas visiting Carthage before it is ever founded Dido is replaced by Basetamon, a princess in Egypt Basetamon herself isn t a real historical figure, but the role she plays is certainly possible The relationship between Basetamon and Aeneas, and the impossibilities of it, are well drawn, I think the conflict between their cultures, and her damaged and destructive personality.The main character is Gull, or Pythia, who is drawn from the Sybil who guides Aeneas down into the Underworld She is given a life of her own in fact, the women of the world are all given lives of their own, including both Lavinia and the unnamed, unnumbered women the fleeing Trojans took with them There s a certain preoccupation with reproduction and children, which only makes sense, given that they need to have enough of a population to found a new city.Everything is well thought out and logical the reasons for Silvius founding a new city, the reasons for Basetamon s death, etc It s a quick read, too surprisingly so it only took me a little over two hours There are even some LGBT characters one of the major male characters is in love with Aeneas, and is also romantically involved with a young eunuch from a temple I wasn t sure how I felt about the handling of the latter the pronouns were erratic, and zie died almost as soon as zie d been introduced to the plot.I m not sure how emotionally attached I was to this story I felt a little choked up at the end, but until then, not really I pitied Basetamon and Aeneas pain at what happened to her, while at the same time being a little infuriated at or about, I m not sure both of them Which is pretty much how I feel about the original, too.Anyway, I m not sure why I ended this with the degree of ambivalence I did, considering how quickly I read it, but there it is Still recommended, especially if you re interested in historical retellings of mythology


  8. Elise Cohen Elise Cohen says:

    New author Jo Graham enters the realm of historical fantasy with a triumph in her first novel, Black Ships A retelling of Virgil s Aeneid as a portrayal of the lifetime of a woman oracle and priestess, the book is painstakingly researched and fully evocative of the Bronze Age return Born as Gull, the daughter of a slave captured in the wars on Wilusa Troy , Pythia finds her destiny as a Sybil of the Lady of Death Joining the last few hundred survivors of Wilusa on their journey to find thei New author Jo Graham enters the realm of historical fantasy with a triumph in her first novel, Black Ships A retelling of Virgil s Aeneid as a portrayal of the lifetime of a woman oracle and priestess, the book is painstakingly researched and fully evocative of the Bronze Age return Born as Gull, the daughter of a slave captured in the wars on Wilusa Troy , Pythia finds her destiny as a Sybil of the Lady of Death Joining the last few hundred survivors of Wilusa on their journey to find their future as a people, she becomes the beloved friend of Prince Aeneas and the lifetime lover of one of his captains As she gains in insight, maturity, and wisdom, Pythia follows her people across the Mediterranean, where ultimately they discover their future and the embodiement of her dreams return Well crafted, with full fleshed characters and an introspective but not self absorbed protagonist, this first novel brings to life an age and a set of peoples rarely so clearly put in context I feared at first the novel might be one of personal obsessions or personal biases but instead found it to be an open, imaginative portrayal of lives seeking meaning and purpose in a time of political, religious, and social confusion I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical or fantasy works


  9. Lisa (Harmonybites) Lisa (Harmonybites) says:

    Even though this book can be found in the fantasy aisle of the bookstore, there is little fantastical here that couldn t be rationalized, other than a few visions of prophecy With Vergil s Aeneid as her basis, Graham uses the latest scholarship to recreate the late Bronze Age Mediterranean world I liked, for instance, bits like how she incorporated theories about how the disaster at Thera might have led into legends of Atlantis and the marvels in the time of Moses in Egypt Since Carthage did Even though this book can be found in the fantasy aisle of the bookstore, there is little fantastical here that couldn t be rationalized, other than a few visions of prophecy With Vergil s Aeneid as her basis, Graham uses the latest scholarship to recreate the late Bronze Age Mediterranean world I liked, for instance, bits like how she incorporated theories about how the disaster at Thera might have led into legends of Atlantis and the marvels in the time of Moses in Egypt Since Carthage didn t exist in this era, the author moves those events to Egypt and makes the Dido figure into a princess of Egypt I liked how she made you feel this was an era where chaos was loose and no one knowing why making me think of how the Sea Peoples of the late Bronze Age were akin to the Vikings of a different Dark Age.Graham s clean prose allowed me to sink into her recreated world and her vision of that Ancient world made me want to readabout the real one just as Mary Renault did once upon a time And makes me want to reread the Aeneid The book is a page turner and Graham created characters it s easy to care about, particularly her first person narrator, Gull, the Sybil It made for a very entertaining read


  10. Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews) Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews) says:

    3.5 5Solid three and a half stars so close to really liking thisr etelling of the Aeneid from the POV of the Sibyl The author includes some big changes ones that admittedly, make a lot of sense view spoiler substituting Egypt an invented Princess named Bastaemon for Cathage Dido since that city and Queen wouldn t exist for 400 years at the time of the The Aeneid Black Ships hide spoiler but there is a LOT of traveling There are a few dull spots because of the repetitive nature of 3.5 5Solid three and a half stars so close to really liking thisr etelling of the Aeneid from the POV of the Sibyl The author includes some big changes ones that admittedly, make a lot of sense view spoiler substituting Egypt an invented Princess named Bastaemon for Cathage Dido since that city and Queen wouldn t exist for 400 years at the time of the The Aeneid Black Ships hide spoiler but there is a LOT of traveling There are a few dull spots because of the repetitive nature of some of the book, but this is a strong adaptation


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Black Ships [BOOKS] ✯ Black Ships Author Jo Graham – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk The world is ending One by one the mighty cities are falling, to earthquakes, to flood, to raiders on both land and seaIn a time of war and doubt, Gull is an oracle Daughter of a slave taken from fall The world is ending One by one the mighty cities are falling, to earthquakes, to flood, to raiders on both land and seaIn a time of war and doubt, Gull is an oracle Daughter of a slave taken from fallen Troy, chosen at the age of seven to be the voice of the Lady of the Dead, it is her destiny to counsel kingsWhen nine Black Ships appear, captained by an exiled Trojan prince, Gull must decide between the life she has been destined for and the most perilous adventure to join the remnant of her mother s people in their desperate flight From the doomed bastions of the City of Pirates to the temples of Byblos, from the intrigues of the Egyptian court to the haunted caves beneath Mount Vesuvius, only Gull can guide Prince Aeneas on his quest, and only she can dare the gates of the Underworld itself to lead him to his destinyIn the last shadowed days of the Age of Bronze, one woman dreams of the world beginning anew This is her story.