Title: The Iliad
Author: Homer/Caroline Alexander
One of the most ancient stories in the world, The Iliad as recounted by Homer is an epic in the truest sense of the word. It is a story that has been told, and retold, for thousands of years. Dozens, possibly hundreds, have tried their hand and tested their skill at translating the poem from its original Greek over the years. I was a teenager when I first read Fagle’s classic translation, often considered the modern standard for the tale. It is hard not to get swept away by the grandeur and the scale of it, the tragedy of men and gods.
“Wrath–sing, goddess, of the ruinous wrath of Peleus’ son Achilles…”
So begins the poem as translated and retold by Caroline Alexander. Here, after millennia, Alexander is not choosing to reinvent the wheel but refine it, and she does so remarkably. She seems to have found a way to streamline the rhythm of the poem, shaping and refining its cadence. Modern readers are wont to remember The Iliad was originally intended to be an oral story, spoken aloud, and I implore readers to try it as they make their way through. It’s truly remarkable, the way it almost seems to flow and carry itself forward. Inflection and emotion come alive in that way and, for a moment, one could easily find themselves swept away by the tale of gods and heroes. It’s a wondrous experience for those who might be experiencing The Iliad for the first time, as well as those–like myself–who have read it a few times, by a few different translators.
In sum, Caroline Alexander has done a remarkable thing and made the ancient new. The Iliad is, and always has been, a living story but in this new edition it feels reinvigorated and exciting and fresh. I absolutely cannot recommend it enough.
The Iliad, translated by Caroline Alexander, is available now in print and digital on Amazon.
Title: Infernal Machines
Author: John Hornor Jacobs
I’ll try to keep this as brief and to the point as I can, but I’m not going to make any promises. I’ve been a fan of Mister Jacobs since picking up Southern Gods years back. He hooked me. From there I’ve made it a point to catch as much of his work as possible, and when I heard he was going to be writing a fantasy series I couldn’t wait. The story that started in The Incorruptibles, in the world of Rume, with the inimitable Fisk and Shoe, has been a hell of a ride. The world building, in particular, is beyond impressive. In Foreign Devils the pressure grew and the stakes swelled, the world got bigger and deeper. Finally, then, with Infernal Machines is all culminates–wonderfully. Along with the other two books in the series, Infernal Machines is the kind of book that I know I’ll be coming back to in the future. Rume is a world I want to visit again, and again. The story is a story I hope keeps getting told. Aside: this series would make an amazing prestige format TV show, on Netflix or HBO.
Infernal Machines is available now in print and digital.
Author: Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Publisher: The Apex Book Company
I’m typically always interested in two things when I discover them in books: a thriving, alternate world with a palpable history, and a unique system of magic/metaphysics. So it should come as no surprise that throughout reading Winterglass, I was pretty consistently entertained. Sriduangkaew has created a world through her writing that is beyond intriguing. The on-going campaign of domination of the Winter Queen and the ghost-kilns, the fighting society of the Marrow. There’s a lot going on, a lot to unpack, and a lot to enjoy. That there is so much character development alongside the fascinating world development is a testament to the story and the writer, and left me wanting more.
If you’re looking for a fun book that’s a relatively quick read, Winterglass is highly recommended. I’m definitely holding out hope for another story set in its world, and looking forward to seeing if Sriduangkaew revisits it in the future.
Winterglass is available from Apex Books in print and digital.