I’m thrilled to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for A Sea of Sorrow by the team of writers known as the H Team. They have come together to create stories that provide a different perspective on the tale of Odysseus recounted in The Odyssey.
Check out the tour schedule here. From the tour page you can also enter the giveaway (US only) with a chance to win a paperback copy of A Sea of Sorrow: A Novel of Odysseus.
The giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 17th 2017.
About the Book
Odysseus, infamous trickster of Troy, vaunted hero of the Greeks, left behind a wake of chaos and despair during his decade long journey home to Ithaca. Lovers and enemies, witches and monsters – no one who tangled with Odysseus emerged unscathed. Some prayed for his return, others, for his destruction. These are their stories…
A beleaguered queen’s gambit for maintaining power unravels as a son plots vengeance.
A tormented siren battles a goddess’s curse and the forces of nature to survive.
An exiled sorceress defies a lustful captain and his greedy crew.
A blinded shepherd swears revenge on the pirate-king who mutilated him.
A beautiful empress binds a shipwrecked sailor to servitude, only to wonder who is serving whom.
A young suitor dreams of love while a returned king conceives a savage retribution.
Six authors bring to life the epic tale of The Odyssey seen through the eyes of its shattered victims – the monsters, witches, lovers, and warriors whose lives were upended by the antics of the “man of many faces.” You may never look upon this timeless epic – and its iconic ancient hero – in quite the same way again.
Format: eBook, paperback (524 pp.) Publisher: Knight Media, LLC
Published: 17th October 2017 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find A Sea of Sorrow: A Novel of Odysseus on Goodreads
A Sea of Sorrow: A Novel of Odysseus is a collaborative work by six authors who style themselves The H Team: David Blixt, Amalia Carosella, Libbie Hawker, Scott Oden, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Russell Whitfield and Gary Corby (Introduction). Each story focuses on one of six “supporting” characters in The Odyssey.
The individual stories are united by a number of common themes and all present the stories in a realistic, prosaic way, shorn of the mythological element of Homer’s version. Here the gods do not intervene in human affairs, although the characters retain their belief in the gods. There are no monsters, just men made monstrous. There is a real life explanation for all the events and the motivations are all too human.
One theme running through all the stories is the concept of xenia or guest-friendship. It is clearly illustrated in one of the tales I particularly enjoyed, Xenia in the Court of the Winds, which focuses on Polyphemus, the monstrous Cyclops of Homer’s The Odyssey. However in Scott Oden’s story, Polyphemus is no monster but re-cast as a sympathetic, human figure who has suffered cruelly at the hands of Odysseus and now finds himself a helpless refugee dependent on others (surely a theme of contemporary relevance). Arriving on the island of Aeolia, Polyphemus is greeted with anger and suspicion by the islanders and it is only a boy, Glaukos, who responds in the true spirit of xenia to Polyphemus. As Glaukos explains, ‘Xenia…is the duty one man owes to another: that he offer the hospitality of his oikos, his household, to a stranger in need.’ When Polyphemus recounts his tale, it becomes clear that one of Odysseus’s crimes was to abuse the guest-friendship offered to him.
Another story I really liked was Penelope’s story, Song of Survival by Vicky Alvear Shecter. Deserted by her husband, we see Penelope’s cleverness and everyday practicality as she deals with the issues facing the kingdom of Ithaca. Penelope has a refreshingly no-nonsense view of her husband’s character and comes pretty close to the mark as she wonders how he will account for his absence should he return. “Will you blame a god for what was surely your decision – and probably on a whim – to pursue more glory? Will you spin fantastical accounts that absolve you of the consequences from the choices you made? Of goddesses who seduced? Monsters who attacked? Beasts who betrayed?”
Odysseus’s reputation as a ‘trickster’ is another theme of the stories. The amiable teller of riddles is revealed as a deceiver and liar. ‘His tales were as smooth as a fine wine. But always there was a hint of something just under the surface – something sour, but too subtle to the palate to call it a bald-faced lie.’
The most sympathetic rendition of Odysseus is in the story, Calypso’s Vow by David Blixt. Here we see Odysseus racked by guilt at the death of comrades, his betrayal of Circe, his failure to assist the Sirens and his hubris (another theme of the stories). Recognising himself as a habitual oath-breaker, Odysseus’s time on Calypso’s isle becomes a self-imposed test of his ability to be true to an oath. For once, his skills and experience are used in the service of others.
I really enjoyed reading this collection of imaginative stories which, although the product of different writers, share a common style that gives a feeling of continuity. I think readers familiar with The Odyssey will enjoy the new perspectives the stories provide on established characters. Equally, I believe they will encourage readers not familiar with The Odyssey to seek out Homer’s original.
I received an advance reader copy courtesy HF Virtual Book Tours in return for an honest review.
In three words: Imaginative, intriguing, retelling
Try something similar…A Song of War by The H Team
About the Authors
Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). Amalia’s novels include Tamer of Horses, Helen of Sparta, By Helen’s Hand, and Daughter of a Thousand Years.
David Blixt‘s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, he describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”
Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring complex characters and rich details of time and place. Libbie’s recent novels include Daughter of Sand and Stone, Mercer Girls, A Song of War, White Lotus and Persian Rose. She lives in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.
Russell Whitfield was born in Shepherds Bush in 1971. An only child, he was raised in Hounslow, West London, but has since escaped to Ham in Surrey. Gladiatrix was Russ’s first novel, published in 2008 by Myrmidon Books. The sequel, Roma Victrix, continues the adventures of Lysandra, the Spartan gladiatrix, and a third book, Imperatrix, sees Lysandra stepping out of the arena and onto the field of battle.
Scott Oden was born in Indiana, but has spent most of his life shuffling between his home in rural North Alabama, a Hobbit hole in Middle-earth, and some sketchy tavern in the Hyborian Age. He is an avid reader of fantasy and ancient history, a collector of swords, and a player of tabletop role-playing games. When not writing, he can be found walking his two dogs or doting over his lovely wife, Shannon. Oden’s previous works include the historical fantasy, The Lion of Cairo, and two historical novels, Men of Bronze and Memnon. He is currently working on his next novel.
Vicky Alvear Shecter is the author of multiple books set in the ancient world, including the YA novels, CLEOPATRA’S MOON, based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter, and CURSES AND SMOKE: A NOVEL OF POMPEII and the adult historical collaborations, A SONG OF WAR, A YEAR OF RAVENS, and A DAY OF FIRE. She has written a mid-grade series on mythology (ANUBIS SPEAKS, HADES SPEAKS, and THOR SPEAKS) as well as two award-winning biographies for kids. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.