Saturday, June 12, 2021

Women from Greek mythology have their say in these new historical novels

Myths are made new and relevant in these six historical novels, which should appeal to readers interested in ancient Greek settings. The Trojan War is the common event shared by many of these titles, with writers departing from Homer's Iliad to examine women's viewpoints, but other tales are used as scaffolding as well. Benchmark novels include Madeline Miller's Circe and Margaret George's The Memoirs of Helen of Troy, and there are plenty of other older novels that fit, too. The original classic stories never get old.

The Women of Troy, Pat Barker's sequel to the acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, follows the story of Briseis, a former queen who was enslaved by Achilles, beginning after Troy's defeat by the Greeks. Doubleday, August 2021.

In A Thousand Ships, her feminist retelling of the Iliad, Haynes uses the perspectives of nearly all the women in the myth (except Helen) to provide new angles on familiar events. Harper, January 2021.

The daughters of Sparta in Heywood's debut novel are Helen and her sister, Clytemnestra, princesses who are wed to powerful foreign kings and fight for the power to control their own fates. Dutton, June 2021.

Though the title of Andrews' young adult fantasy novel, Daughter of Sparta, sounds similar to the previous book, its subject is different.  The myth of Daphne and Apollo is cast into a story of female power and adventure.  Little Brown Books for Young Readers, June 2021.

Jennifer Saint's debut is the first of two reimaginings of the story of Ariadne, a Cretan princess who meets Theseus, Prince of Athens, when he visits the land of her father, King Minos, to slay the Minotaur, her half-brother. Flatiron, May 2021.

In Ariadne Unraveled, a "mythic retelling" of Ariadne, High Princess of Crete, Zenobia Neil follows the story of her romance with Dionysus, the god of wine, amid interference from the goddess Artemis, who Ariadne was bound to serve. Hypatia, July 2021. 


  1. The Trojan War era is one of my favorites. I have already read and enjoyed A Thousand Ships and Ariadne, now I can add these others to my TBR list. Thanks for posting!

  2. Glad you liked the list! A Thousand Ships is the only one I've read so far, but I'm looking forward to the others.

  3. Thanks for the recommendations. Look forward to reading some or all of them.

  4. Hope you enjoy them. Ancient history settings aren't common these days, so I like reading them when I get a chance.

  5. I read a Thousand ships and Jocasta's children, I thought the characters flat, but the story lines interestingly ok.

  6. Thanks for your comments - I've been meaning to read her novel about Jocasta and her children...