The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason

I don’t know what to think of this book.   The concept is an interesting one, certainly, and props to Mr. Mason for attempting it.  I liked some of the stories immensely, and others left me with a big question mark in my mind.  Thinking “Huh?” or “What?”  The one that springs to mind is “Decrement”, featuring Odysseus and Circe.  My favorite was “The Other Assassin”.  It made me laugh, and sounded like something wily Odysseus would do.  Here’s a run down of it and some of the others I liked:

“The Other Assassin” – Although the time of this story is never specified, I assume that it was after the war.  Agamemnon, seated on his throne in Mycenae, and surrounded by bureaucrats, puts out a hit on Odysseus.

“The Stranger” – Which is the real Odysseus?  What happens when Odysseus meets himself, or someone even more clever.

“Penelope’s Elegy” – Things are not as they seem upon Odysseus’s return to Ithaca.

“The Iliad of Odysseus” – Odysseus, not particularly skilled in arms, but a master of words, wants to become a bard, and compose heroic lays.  Including his own.

“Death and the King” – The whole kidnapping of Helen and the Trojan War are an allegory for the battle between a primeval goddess who would eventually become Athena and her rival, Death.

“The Book of Winter” – In an attempt to escape the vengeance of Poseidon, Odysseus forgets.

“No Man’s Wife” – Odysseus and Penelope meet in Hades.

“Stone Garden” –  In another twist on Odysseus foray into the Netherworld, he meets Medusa.

“The Long Way Back” – An interesting spin on the identity of Calypso.

 I really liked this book, and it has given me much food for thought.  And I wish that “The Other Assassin” had been longer, so I could read the details and patient cunning of Odysseus’s revenge.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

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