Book Review: Odysseus: The Return by Valerio Massimo Manfredi.

odysseus-the-return-valerio-massimo-manfrediNo. of pages: 400 pages

Publisher: Macmillan, September 11, 2014 (first published in September 10, 2013)

Setting: Ancient Greece (the vast open sea and all the surrounding islands)

Original Title: Il mio nome è Nessuno: Il ritorno

And so Odysseus: The Return by Valerio Massimo Manfredi was my 25th book of the year 2016 and marked the end of my Goodreads Reading Challenge. This is the second book that comes immediately after the first one, Odysseus: The Oath also by the same author and which I have previously given a review about earlier as well. I had successfully managed to read all 25 books and for 2017, my new reading challenge will be to finish reading 30 books. But I’m not talking about my reading challenge today. I’m going to give you guys my personal opinion and my version of the review of the book I just read.

It was as expected, having read the second half of the journey of Odysseus and his Ithacan warriors by sea after spending 10 years locked in the battle with Troy. After the fall of the Trojans at the hands of the Achaians (as well as the sharp and witty mind of Odysseus), the warriors are now preparing to return to their respective islands and kingdoms, their ships’ hulls filled to the brim with treasure and plunder from the castle grounds of their fallen enemies. With one destination in mind that is home, Odysseus and his fleet set sail for Ithaca. Odysseus yearned to be back with his wife and queen, Penelope, as well as his son Telemachus. Little did he know that his journey home would not be as comfortable as he thought it would be, and that there were many challenges and perils that await the King of Ithaca and his men. Nor was he aware of the foreign invaders that have landed on his little island, ever ready to convince the queen that her husband would not be returning, that she should look towards picking a new suitor and moving on with life.

Synopsis by Goodreads:

The extraordinary story of a legendary hero continues . . .

After ten years of uninterrupted war, blood and agony, the Trojans have finally been defeated. Odysseus and his men begin the epic journey of returning to Ithaca. Along the way, terrifying enemies await them: the cyclops Polyphemus, the lotus eaters who feast on narcotic flowers that give only oblivion, the sorceress who turns men into swine, and the deadly, enthralling sirens.

Odysseus is determined to make his way home, where his beloved family have awaited him for many long years. But his journey will present him with new, terrible perils – ones that he could not have dreamed of even in his wildest nightmares.

In this stunning new novel, Valerio Massimo Manfredi gives a new voice to one of the most adventurous and fascinating heroes of all time.

Polyphemus the Cyclops, the Lotus Eaters, Circe and the Sirens were probably the least of his troubles as at least he had managed to escape, albeit losing many of his brave comrades in the process.

The hardcore challenges came when Odysseus tried to squeeze past Scylla and Charybdis. What had remained of his crew were gone. When they landed on the island of Helios, his hungry men disregarded his orders not to touch the grazing beasts and were punished when Zeus threw a lightning bolt at the ships at the port. was given a bag of winds by King Aeolus to be used to steer the ships back towards Ithaca, only to have his men open the bag out of curiosity to see what was in it that their king refused to let them come near it. The winds escaped and blew them back out towards the wide open sea, and caused them to land back on the shores of King Aeolus’ land. The king refused to offer anymore assistance to Odysseus and the crew and captain had no choice but to grope their way home.

It didn’t help that all his friends and brave compatriots were lost at sea, eaten by monsters and killed unnecessarily, leaving only Odysseus alive. All because he had been unable to keep his mouth shut after having narrowly escaped death after causing permanent blindness to Polyphemus.

His verbal challenge had not gone unheard nor unnoticed when the blind cyclops called out to his father, the blue-god of the sea, Poseidon for revenge. It also didn’t help that the 10-year battle at Troy earlier had caused Odysseus to lose so many good men there. And when Odysseus finally returns to his homeland and kingdom, nobody recognised him as they had all thought he had died either in battle or on his way home. He had gone through so much pain, sadness and suffering, only to return to find that you now have competition to face in taking your palace back, winning over your wife and stopping a plot by the other princes to ambush and murder your son. Wow. Much drama.

The ending of Book 2, however, was rather strange. Despite having returned to Ithaca and winning over his kingdom, he still had yet one more journey to make on land to fulfil a prophecy which could lift Poseidon’s curse off his head and allow him to live a peaceful life. He had bade his wife and son goodbye again, embarked on his last journey and upon turning the last page, the book had neither said whether Odysseus had died or lived. All I knew was that he had met up with the ghosts of his men who died fighting the battle of Troy and those who died on the way home, while still carrying the winnowing oar. Neither did the book say whether Odysseus had returned to his wife and son.

All I can say is that my intense confusion eventually led me to doing some pretty deep research on Google to find out what really happened to Odysseus on his last journey. Thankfully, I found what I was looking for. Sort of. If you really want to know, you can go to this link (www.greeka.com) and it may give you the answer.

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