Book Review: The Iliad by Homer

IMG_4734Synopsis: Set during the Trojan War, the great warrior Achilles has a war prize, Briseis, who is stolen by Agamemnon. Because of this slight, Achilles refuses to fight, therefore dooming the Greek side. Hector, fighting on the side of the Trojans, leads various raids into the Greek camp, bringing the battle closer and closer to Achilles. Will Achilles relent and rejoin the battle? Or will his stubbornness doom his comrades?

Review: Well, I finished it! And I did like it, but I did have difficulty in parts.

I decided to read Homer’s The Iliad because earlier this summer I read Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, which I really loved. The Song of Achilles tells the story of Achilles and Patroclus, and goes over the events of The Iliad, and gives a broader background and meaning to the events of The Iliad.

I must say that I enjoyed The Song of Achilles far more than I did The Iliad. If I hadn’t read The Song of Achilles, I would’ve been totally confused as to the characters and what was going on.

The Iliad just jumps right into the action without any introduction as to characters and setting. There was an introduction in my version of the book that I did not read, and I wonder what my thoughts would be if I had read that intro first.

Besides the human characters, which I’ll get to in a minute, we have the gods, who are just as much a part of the story as the humans. Zeus, Hera, Aprodite, Athena, and Apollo all make appearances and try to sway human actions. The gods and their antics didn’t interest me in the slightest. I found myself scanning through their sections and wanting to put the book down when they appeared.

Now the human characters I did like, namely Patroclus and Hector. Hector is such a larger than life character, full of fire and strength. I’m drawn to him, much more than I’m drawn to Achilles, another larger than life character. I also really enjoyed the character of Andromache, Hector’s wife. She is loyal and kind, and I could feel her fear and tension while Hector fights.

Patroclus is just a great guy, a nice guy, and one that everyone loves. His story is full of sadness and friendship.

Besides the characters, the main aspect of The Iliad is warfare. This is one of the bloodiest, goriest books I’ve ever read. And it is unrelenting. It isn’t just one section that is graphic, it’s the entire book. If you can’t handle reading graphic descriptions of bodily injury, then you should stay away from this book. Even though I knew what the subject matter was going in, I was not expecting it to be as graphic as it was! So that kind of shocked me a bit. Not because I don’t read graphic books, I do read them. I was just not expecting it here.

So, even though The Iliad was difficult to read in places, due to my lack of interest in the gods and the bloody bits, I’m glad I read it. It’s a classic for a reason, and parts had me spellbound. I’d think twice before reading it in its entirety again, but I would definitely read certain sections by themselves again no problem.

Bottom Line: Classic literature worth reading if you can handle blood and guts. If unwilling to invest in the time to read this, try The Song of Achilles for an easier read.

Links to The Iliad on Amazon and Goodreads

Links to The Song of Achilles on Amazon and Goodreads

Read my review of The Song of Achilles here

Have you read The Iliad? Is it a book you will re-read or is once enough? Which of its long line of characters are your favorites? Have I convinced you to give this classic a try, or are you put off by the gore factor?



21 thoughts on “Book Review: The Iliad by Homer

  1. I’m so glad you liked The Iliad. The divine intervention is one of my favorite parts of the story. That sucks you didn’t like them. Well, I don’t blame you cause the gods were mean and playing games with all the humans. Their intervention is so important to the story. Without Apollo and Aphrodite, the war wouldn’t have started and Achilles wouldn’t have been killed at the hands of Paris. And Paris is such a sad and annoying character. I never liked him. I always thought he was a coward, and for the gods to give him so much love, never made sense to me. I didn’t think he deserved it. If anyone did, it was Hector. I’m glad you got to see how amazing Hector is in this book because that’s the one part The Song of Achilles was lacking. But at least with that book, you get the whole story, including Achilles’ death. I was happy to see that part in the book since The Iliad ends with him still a hero. Do you think you’ll read The Odyssey? Odysseus’ homecoming is so good.

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    1. Yeah, I just couldn’t get into the gods – they just were playing with everyones lives and that just bothered me. And I think I wasn’t following the gods all that well, so it was confusing for me, and I just got irritated.
      Ooh Paris is so annoying. I can totally see why Helen at the end said that she just should’ve died instead of going to Troy. I really felt for Helen in this book – to watch all the men die around her, because of her, humanized her, and I haven’t really felt anything for her in any other version.
      The Song of Achilles just impresses me more and more!
      I think I will read The Odyssey at some point. I really liked Odysseus in The Song of Achilles, but here in The Iliad I didn’t get anything from him.

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      1. Haha! Yeah, that was the recurring theme with Greek mythology. The gods are always playing with mortals. It was like they were there for their own entertainment. Paris is awful and a brat. I can’t stand him at all. The thing with Helen is that she was also another one of the gods props. She was promised to Paris by Aphrodite and I don’t think there was much she could’ve done to avoid it if the gods willed it. Odysseus is good in The Odyssey. You really feel for him in that book. 🙂

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        1. Ooh good. I did really like him in Song of Achilles. I read the Odyssey years and years ago in high school, but I don’t remember anything about it. I had to make a poster board of his travels, and I remember using Ed Emberley’s drawing books to draw some of the things he encounters along the way. ha ha.

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          1. I love Odysseus’ story about his homecoming. It’s heartbreaking and wonderful and so emotional. Ugh, I just love it. I have such a love for all things Homer. 🙂 He really had a way of making these characters larger than life. I’ll never forget reading both of his works back in 2001 and being so blown away. I never thought I’d ever read anything as wonderful. I was so in love. I still am. 🤗 Hello, fangirl over here. Haha!

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  2. Good for you! You have read this classic which I have avoided! After reading your reviews of both The Iliad and Song of Achilles, I think I will (take the cowards way out and) only read The Song. As you already know classics aren’t exactly my thing. 🙄😉 Thanks do much for making the choice so clear for me. Two great reviews! 😊

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  3. So you finally finished it. Nice review. I do feel like the mythological and classical books have a certain way of describing the action and gore that could be off-putting for a lot of us. Plus the societal norms are also radically different sometimes.
    Cheers to you for finishing this one.

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    1. I couldn’t believe how large the book was!! I should’ve looked at the page count before I ordered it. Whoops!
      I think it was just the unrelenting aspect of the warfare that made it hard for me. These guys never got a break, and there were so many graphic descriptions of similar things that it was just a little much. But definitely worth a read!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe try an abridged version the next time you go for a Greek classic?
        Oh, and being a GOT fan, try reading “The Wars of the Roses” by Dan Jones. That book details the real-life inspiration(s) for the War of the Five kings.
        God bless. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ha ha – abridged always feels like cheating to me!! 🙂
          OOh thanks for the recommendation of The Wars of the Roses. I’ve read a bunch of Philippa Gregory’s books about the War of the Roses, and I really enjoy reading books set in that time period.

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