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text 2017-08-23 04:43
This book was forgettable.
2061: Odyssey Three - Arthur C. Clarke

Unfortunately. I liked the story well enough. It was interesting and the characters were enjoyable. However, it wasn't gripping. The content of the story is such that you can conceivably read it without having read any of the previous. Nothing in this story hinges completely on previous books. In fact, there are several passages that are pulled directly from prior texts that support the book well enough for the story purposes. A nice little story but not one to draw me back again and again like more compelling works.

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text 2017-08-21 05:38
And book two was...
2010: Odyssey Two - Arthur C. Clarke

...Fabulous! I like this book sooooo much better than the first. The people actually make the story here. A few years ago I read Larry Niven's Ringworld and discovered I don't care much for extreme hard sci-fi. Books where the science drives the story and not the people. That was one of the problems with the first book. Fortunately that isn't the case here. While I enjoyed the descriptions of the various space items it was because that forwarded the plot. It was startling to realize that the time frame of this book is concurrent with the last few chapters of the first book. People tend to think that sequels must perforce take place completely after the events in the first story. And I will be most interested to see how humanity copes with two suns, no nights and an eventual encounter with the Europans. 

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text 2017-08-20 07:08
I finally did it!
2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke

It took three tries but I actually made it through this book. I watched the movie oh so many years ago and only remember tiny random bits, not even a full scene. The book is going to be similar for me. I think what I disliked most is that two thirds or so of the book seem to be written in the passive voice. There's very little actual conversations or interactions between characters, just extensive descriptions of what this piece of machinery or that space maneuver is doing. Boring! But I wanted to make sure that I finished this book before going on to the next. Since the very end of 2001 with the Star Child was interesting I'm hoping that the next book is a little more active voice and action. Fingers crossed.

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text 2017-06-23 23:06
The Odyssey
The Iliad and the Odyssey - Homer

The Odyssey by Homer

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

The crafty hero of The Iliad is in the last leg of his long ten year journey home, but it not only his story that Homer relates to the reader in this sequel to the first war epic in literature.  The Odyssey describes the Odysseus’ return to Ithaca after twenty years along with the emergence of his son Telemachus as a new hero while his faithful wife Penelope staves off suitors who are crowding their home and eating their wealth daily.

 

Although the poem is named after his father, Telemachus’ “arc” begins first as the reader learns about the situation on Ithaca around Odysseus’ home and the search he begins for information on his father’s whereabouts.  Then we shift to Odysseus on a beach longing to return home when he is informed his long sojourn is about to end and he sets off on a raft and eventually arrives among the Phaeacians, who he relates the previous ten years of his life to before they take him back home.  On Ithaca, Odysseus and his son eventually meet and begin planning their revenge on the Penelope’s suitors that results in slaughter and a long-awaited family reunion with Penelope.

 

First and foremost The Odyssey is about coming home, in both Telemachus’ and Odysseus’ arcs there are tales of successful homecomings, unsuccessful homecomings, and homecoming that never happen of heroes from The Iliad.  Going hand-in-hand with homecomings is the wanderings of other heroes whose adventures are not as exciting or as long as Odysseus’.  Interwoven throughout the poem with homecomings and wanderings is the relationship between guests and hosts along with the difference between good and bad for both that has long reaching consequences.  And finally throughout Odysseus’ long journey there are tests everywhere of all types for him to overcome or fail, but the most important are Penelope’s both physical and intimate.

 

Even though it is a sequel, The Odyssey is in complete contrast to The Iliad as instead of epic battle this poem focuses on a hero overcoming everything even the gods to return home.  Suddenly the poet who gave readers a first-hand account of war shows his readers the importance of returning from war from the perspective of warriors and their families.   Although they are completely different, The Odyssey in fact compliments The Iliad as well as completing it which means if you read one you have to read the other.

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text 2017-06-19 00:48
The Iliad
The Iliad and the Odyssey - Homer

The Iliad by Homer

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

The wrath of Achilles not only begins the oldest piece of Western literature, but is also its premise.  The Iliad has been the basis of numerous clichés in literature, but at its root it is a story of a war that for centuries was told orally before being put down by Homer in which the great heroes of Greece fought for honor and glory that the men of Homer’s day could only imagine achieving.

 

The story of the Trojan War is well known and most people who have not read The Iliad assume they know what happens, but in fact at the end of the poem the city of Troy still stands and a wooden horse has not been mentioned.  The Iliad tells of several weeks in the last year of the war that revolve around the dishonorable actions of Agamemnon that leads to Achilles refusing to fight with the rest of the Greeks and the disaster it causes in the resulting engagements against the Trojans.  But then Achilles allows his friend Patroclus to lead his men into battle to save the Greek ships from being put to the torch only for Patroclus to advance to the walls of Troy and be slain by Hector.  The wrath of Achilles turns from Agamemnon to Hector and the Trojans, leading to the death of Troy’s greatest warrior and the poem ending with his funeral.

 

Although the actions of Achilles and Hector take prominence, there are several other notable “storylines” one doesn’t know unless you’ve read epic.  First and foremost is Diomedes, the second greatest fighter amongst the Greeks but oftentimes overlooked when it comes to adaptations especially to other important individuals like Odysseus, Menelaus, and the pivotal Patroclus.  The second is how much the Olympians and other minor deities are thought to influence the events during this stretch of the war and how both mortals and immortals had to bow to Fate in all circumstances.  The third is how ‘nationalistic’ the epic is in the Greek perspective because even though Hector is acknowledged the greatest mortal-born warrior in the war on both sides, as a Trojan he has to have moments of cowardice that none of the Greek heroes are allowed to exhibit and his most famous kill is enabled by Apollo instead of all by himself.  And yet, even though Homer writes The Iliad as a triumphant Greek narrative the sections that have Hector’s flaws almost seem hollow as if Homer and his audience both subconsciously know that his epic is not the heroic wrath of Achilles but the tragic death of Hector.

 

The Iliad is the ultimate classic literature and no matter your reading tastes one must read it to have a better appreciation for all of literature as a whole.  Although the it was first written over 2500 years ago, it shows the duality of heroic feats and complete tragedy that is war.

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