This was an enjoyable book for the most part. Easy to read, likeable characters, well-constructed world, but I do think a lot more could have done with it. I feel like the book would have benefited from being a little longer to properly flesh out the characters and their relationships, because they were pretty awfully one dimensional. It’s true that it would have then lost its quick and easy charm, but the truth is I didn’t care deeply about many of the characters and a lot of the relationships presented were also not particularly believable or shown with enough depth to make me really care.
The plot was also not particularly exciting. Obviously we’re following the Trojan war, which many know the story of already (myself especially so), but the plot of the characters themselves is seemingly non-existent. There is no trajectory that we follow, no sub-plots, no character development of any importance, despite several years passing (often seemingly out of nowhere; at one point, it was stated that they had been at Troy for three years, whereas, the last time I had been aware of the year, they had been there one). All that really happens is several years following the day-to-day lives of Neomene and her friends in the Trojan war with a few plot points stabbed in here and there, but with no real connecting factor. Even what I assume was meant to be the emotional climax at the end of the book didn’t pack much of a punch both because it was very predictable and because I didn’t really care about the characters or the relationship involved. In that respect it was somewhat dull.
I also thought this was going to be an interesting adaptation without explicitly using the gods, only having them referenced and talked about in stories and in hearsay, since for example Paris was whisked away not by Aphrodite but by the Trojans in the one-to-one combat. However, about three quarters of the way through we meet an actual nymph who has genuinely met the gods, so I don’t know what that was all about.
Character motivations were often all over the place. If Oenone saw Odysseus as a threat to Paris, why did she change her mind so quickly? Why was Neomene so staunchly against going home (the excuse that she’d failed Iphigenia seems pretty weak)? Why did she and Antilochus even like one another? We see nothing of their relationship, or even their friendship. It seems to come out of nowhere and therefore not have much of an impact.
There are quite a few loose ends dangling around, like the suspicious Hesta and the yet-to-kick-off fight about Briseis, which I assume will continue in the sequel. (I did rather like the idea of Achilles easily falling in love and Briseis being his latest catch, making the later feud about love rather than arrogance, as is the traditional take on it.)
I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the sequel. Since I own it, I guess I might as well, but this really wasn’t a great book. Quite enjoyable and a very quick read, but not something I’d read again or recommend.