The Songs of the Kings (Paperback)

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A brilliant retelling of an ancient myth, The Songs of the Kings offers up a different narrative of the Trojan War, one devoid of honor, wherein the mission to rescue Helen is a pretext for plundering Troy of its treasures. As the ships of the Greek fleet find themselves stalled in the straits at Aulis, waiting vainly for the gods to deliver more favorable winds, Odysseus cynically advances a call for the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter, Calchas the diviner interprets events for the reader, and a Homer-like figure called the Singer is persuaded to proclaim a tale of a just war to hide the corrupt motivations of those in power. But couched within the Singer’s spin is a message at once timely and timeless: “There is always another story. But it is the stories told by the strong, the songs of kings, that are believed in the end.”

About the Author

Barry Unsworth was born in 1930 and grew up in a mining town in northeast England. Descended from a long line of coal miners, he was the first Unsworth to escape the mines. He attended Manchester University and published his first novel, The Partnership, in 1966. He is the author of seventeen books, including The Ruby in Her Navel, longlisted for the Booker Prize; Pascali’s Island and Morality Play, both shortlisted for the Booker; and Sacred Hunger, co-winner of the Booker Prize. He died in 2012 at the age of eighty-one.

Praise For…

“Intricate and gorgeous. . . . Impossible to read without feeling an immediacy both unbearable and profound.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Beautiful storytelling. . . .[A] focused combination of epic drama and smart political satire.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“[Has] an immensely sophisticated grasp of politics, economics and psychology, of how the world works.” —Los Angeles Times
“Breathtaking. . . . Rich and vivid.” —The New York Times

“A bold, modern tale with cynical riffs on the themes of duty and power, truth and fiction.” —The New Yorker

“Masterful. . . . Timeless. . . . Funny and sad, poignant and frightening.” —The Seattle Times

“Fascinating. . . . A song in its own right.” —The Boston Globe

“Remarkable. . . . Unsworth brilliantly conveys the dark feel of Calchas’ spiritual gift as well as the very earth well of vain, thuggish soldiers stuck in camp. . . . A sense of doom fills this novel.” —The Dallas Morning News

“Intellectually agile, thrillingly stylish. . . . The Songs of the Kings effortlessly proves that modern life is the stuff of ancient myth.” —The Guardian

“A rich novel, sharply plotted and layered with subtle nuances. . . . A beautifully measured entertainment given gravity by how accurately it reflects the present political zeal to control the media. . . . Teas[es] out the politics and intrigue that govern a thousand restless soldiers.” —The Independent (London)

“Wonder-provoking. . . . Unsworth's writing is unrivaled. . . . His novels are close to perfect in an imperfect literary world.” —Ruth Rendell, author of End in Tears

“Pure gold. . . . One of the best books by this most versatile of writers.” —Penelope Lively, author of The Photograph

“Gorgeously detailed, astute. . . . The word of Homeric epic and Euripidean tragedy is brought sharply to life.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Beautifully descriptive. . . . Provocative and subversive. . . . An audacious blending of myth with sharp contemporary resonance. . . . Unsworth’s narrative method is as daring as his message.” —Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525435242
ISBN-10: 0525435247
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English