Monday, August 27, 2018

The Way Home by Julian Barr

I'm not familiar with the Aeneid, although I have heard of Odysseus and the Trojan war. So when I read the synopsis of The Way Home, a retelling of the Aeneid, I was intrigued and thought it would be a good way to introduce myself to this aspect of the myth.

The Way Home follows the journey of Aeneas, a Trojan prince. It starts when the Greeks are ransacking the city, having been smuggled in by the giant horse (although I don't think Aeneas ever realised this is how they got in). Unfortunately, he didn't manage to save the royal family or his wife and ends up leading a band of refugees. And thus, their journey to find their new home begins.

At the same time, we see that this is part of a fight between Hera and Zeus. Hera wants to make her preferred city dominant, while Zeus has other plans (which involve Aeneas). The other gods are pulled in as they side with one or the other, or even switch allegiances.

I absolutely enjoyed this story. Although I didn't really know of Aeneas before, I have a translation of The Odessy before so I knew the other side of the myth. It was very interesting to see how Virgil retold the story from a relatively 'minor' character's viewpoint, and how that was, in turn, retold as The Way Home. I actually paused the story quite a lot to google certain characters or events and read more about it.

By the way, is anyone else shocked at how young Aeneas was when the story began? The book introduces his son, Julos, first and I thought he was in his twenties or something but then a few paragraphs later, I find that he's only nineteen! I know that was a product of the times but wow, the kid is extremely mature for his age. And I guess the book making his age clear at the beginning was a good move because I found myself giving him a lot of latitude after that.

Since this is a YA retelling, the language is simple and direct, which makes it a good introduction to the myth. I found it easy to empathise with Aeneas and his people, even though they lived thousands of years ago and thousands of kilometers away.

However, since this is the first in a trilogy, the book ends on a sort-of cliffhanger. It's not a very big one, but it did make me impatient for the second book. Perhaps I'll find one of the accessible translations of The Aeneid and read that while waiting.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. This sounds really good! I have read The Odyssey, but, as you said, that only tells part of the story. This would be a good introduction to the first part--told in a way I can easily relate to.


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