Review of The Iliad

The Iliad
adapted by Gareth Hinds; illus. by the adapter
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    264 pp.
3/19    978-0-7636-8113-5    $27.99
Paper ed.  978-0-7636-9663-4    $16.99

As with his treatment of The Odyssey (rev. 11/10), Hinds offers an ambitious and compelling comics adaptation of a Homerian epic. This complex, winding tale picks up in the tenth year of the Trojan War, with a focus on an internal conflict between two Greek leaders (Achilles and King Agamemnon) as they seek to conquer the city of Troy. Zeus and the other gods and goddesses prove to be fickle and meddlesome war agents, regularly resorting to acts of trickery, mischief, and deadly interference. While thoughtfully interspersed with scenes of extensive dialogue and heroic addresses from Homer, much of the book is dominated by cinematic battles that, though bloody and graphic, do not rely on gore for their dramatic effect. Instead, arresting pencil, watercolor, and digital illustrations propel readers from scene to scene, shifting from neatly organized panels during moments of peace to angular layouts during times of physical and emotional strife. A purposeful color palette assigns each god his or her own vivid, monochrome hue, while a subtle red and blue color scheme helps differentiate between the Greeks and Trojans. By highlighting the efforts of the goddesses, along with amending Helen’s understanding of her role in the war, Hinds makes an effort to address the story’s inherent hypermasculinity, reminding readers that “the war is the work of angry gods and angry men.” Back matter includes an author’s note, a map, extensive notes, a selected bibliography, and acknowledgments.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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