(Thank you, Odyssey Books, for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)
Written from an omniscient perspective, The Way Home predominantly follows Aeneas, the newly-appointed leader of the Trojans, and his remaining companions on their journey to a new land after the fall of Troy. There are various other perspectives scattered throughout the book, including those of the Greek enemy, of other Trojans, and even of the Goddesses that play a part in the unfolding of the story. These viewpoints paint a vivid picture of everything that happened in the aftermath of the Greek victory in the Trojan War and ensure that the reader does not need to fill in any gaps or guess what was happening in other areas to lead the story at any given time.
I really enjoyed this book. Initially, when I realised just how deeply the story dives into Greek mythology, I was concerned that The Way Home may be too confusing or heavy a read for me. This was only a problem for the first few chapters when I had little idea of the story’s context but, honestly, settling into the world within a story is generally that difficult in any novel, particularly in fantasy or historical fiction. After that point, it didn’t take me long to understand the areas of mythology that the author had woven into the story and I rapidly became invested in Aeneas’ story in a way that I didn’t know I could.
This book is definitely more complicated than the books that I normally read for pleasure, but I found that to be a refreshing change from the easy, contemporary books that I’ve been reading of late. Julian Barr (who has a PHD in Classics) clearly knows Greek mythology and history to an extraordinary level, but does an impressive job of writing this book just technically enough that it’s informative and fascinating, whilst also being understandable for people with limited knowledge of the subject. Whether you have an in-depth understanding of the Trojan War, or no awareness of it all, I feel as though this could be an enjoyable read.
The most impressive part of the writing was how well the story transitioned between a colonial war and a war between the Twelve Gods of Greek Mythology. Barr manages to make the transition between the perspectives so readable and so captivating that, even with the various underlying stories and leaps between chapters to other areas, I didn’t find myself being removed from the action at all. It didn’t feel as though the characters were being pushed into tense situations just to create action either, which is something I’ve seen a lot in books that follow a single journey. All fights and complications seemed to have a real purpose that drove the story along, and I found that that made the whole novel incredibly gripping.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I would recommend this book for all readers; however, it would be particularly suitable for readers of historical fiction, fantasy or adventure novels. I’m already excited to delve further into Barr’s interpretation of such a fascinating story, and am sure that any other reader would be the same after The Way Home.