Beth Revis is doing a mind-blowingly awesome give-away for the month of November. To enter, she invites everyone to share the books they are the most thankful for.
There are many books that have inspired me throughout the years–LOTR, Chronicles of Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, but the one I am most thankful for, the one I vault above all others, and give a pedestal to lord over my massive book collection like some god of awesome, is the Iliad.
See, I like epic, and the Iliad is like the grandfather of epic. I have the strange desire to write about war and conflicts. I don’t know why. I don’t even consciously do it, but war just has a way of seeping into the plot. The Trojan war, to me, is one of the greatest wars in myth (or history, depending on whether or not you believe it actually happened).
According to the Classical Greeks, this was THE war of all wars, the one that changed the course of history, and continued to inspire man for thousands of years afterwards. The Trojans were the forefathers of the Romans; Achilles the inspiration that spurred Alexander the Great to be well, great.
But the Iliad is so much more than the war, it is about the characters, the people. Whether you love them or hate them, the players in the Iliad make a lasting impression on you. The hero Achilles, while brave and nearly invincible, was also brash, annoying, and pouty. He was the Greeks greatest warrior, those who met him in battle feared him, yet he was felled by a lazy pretty boy.
Hector, Achilles nemesis, and only true contender, was to me, the better warrior. Hector didn’t fight for glory, or plunder, or pride, he fought for love. It was the love of his city, the love of his people that spurred him on.
Agamemnon was an asshole. There really is no other way to describe him. As much as I disliked Achilles, I hated Agamemnon that much more. I couldn’t understand why he, and not his brother was leading the Greeks. For lack of a better term, he was a domineering jerk who took advantage of his spineless brother’s misfortune for his own glory and gain.
And Helen, a major player in the war, was pushed to the side. While her screen time was minimal, her presence was always there, looming over the pages, instilling inspiration or hatred in those that fought over her. Helen was the catalyst, the woman whose beauty has become indescribable. She is a subject that has baffled many artists throughout the millennia, her perfection untranslatable. Helen was the war. She was the story. She is the one who will be remembered above all others.
I want to create characters and conflicts like that. I want characters who will be remembered long after the pages have crumpled to dust, or the e-readers and tablets to have become fossilized relics littering the landfills.
The Iliad inspired me to transcend normalcy, and aim for placing my stories, my characters among the stars.