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A tale of gods and monsters: The Odyssey

While many of the ancient Greek poet Homer’s works remain lost to time, two of his books were so popular they persisted, and today, thanks to the work of linguists and translators, we get to read his great epics - the Odyssey and the Iliad. The Odyssey acts as a sort of sequel to the Iliad, following the brave and powerful hero King Odysseus, after all his remarkable work in the Trojan War, as he sails back to his kingdom in treacherous deadly seas, plagued by the wrath of different Gods and monsters.

The Odyssey seems like a frightening read at first. It is a classic and so well-written that to an ordinary casual reader, it may seem quite intimidating. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to make head or tail of it. It is quite lengthy and full of many strange, unpronounceable, and complicated names. However, I can tell you straight off the bat that it is one hundred percent worth the read. An intriguing story that interests the average Percy Jackson fan and would be a compelling read for most fiction aficionados.

The Odyssey is rather confusing in that it starts in the middle of the narrative and doesn’t exactly follow a linear chronology. It shows not only the perspective of Odysseus but also that of his son Telemachus. The story is in the third person, unfolding in front of us, and we are privy to the thoughts of the characters.

It introduces Odysseus’s struggles very briefly up to that point, which include Poseidon, the sea god, leaving him lost at sea, and Calypso, a great goddess, imprisoning him. Then it goes straight to his son Telemachus as he tells the readers about the multiple suitors who never leave his home, hoping for a chance at Odysseus’s wife, his mother, believing that his father is dead at sea. On the verge of losing hope of his father’s return, he journeys to the Peloponnese to discover that his father is still alive. Thankfully, for most confused readers, most translations provide a map of Ancient Greece that clarifies most geographical doubts and tend to have a section explaining the thousand different characters referenced. The book then shifts to Odysseus, lost at sea, as he describes all his struggles and the threats to his voyage home, providing a proper storyline that can be followed. The story culminates with a happy ending, Odysseus returning home and defeating all the suitors to win back his wife and kingdom.

This book isn’t for the weak. It's a long-winding storyline, with at times a lot of seemingly pointless information. Still, if Greek mythology is something that truly fascinates you, these details honestly just become points of investigation and help you delve deeper into the mythology and learn more. The best way to enjoy this book is to do your homework before, learn a bit about Greek mythology and the main characters, especially the Trojan War. I’d even recommend reading the Iliad before; it provides for a much smoother transition into the book. Once you know a bit about the characters, then the book becomes much more enjoyable and just starts to feel like a puzzle, with all the pieces of information making wonderful new connections in your head. The style of writing is rather new in that it's quite verbose and descriptive, so it takes a little getting used to initially, but once you’re used to it, it's easy to sail through this book.

All in all, this book is a commitment; you can’t take that many breaks from reading it because you’ll forget the details and lose your flow. It's a good kind of commitment, though. It's an exciting read and keeps you constantly occupied; Odysseus’s story is unique with so many new characters - both good and bad - as well as plenty of twists and turns. Even if you don’t enjoy it that much, you’ll earn some culture points for saying you read “The Odyssey.” Author: Ruhani Nagda

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