Author Guest Post + Giveaway: Terence Hawkins, author of The Rage of Achilles

Passages to the Past is pleased to bring you a guest post written by Terence Hawkins, author of The Rage of Achilles.  And don't forget to check out the giveaway package at the end!  Thanks to Terence for stopping by and

Take it away Terence...

Not too long ago a classmate asked me how I’d come to write a novel based on the Trojan War. I told him that I thought it was some kind of psychic payback for the C minus I got on my first college paper, “Shame and Guilt in the Iliad.”

Makes sense.

But the more immediate reason was that I had been reading Christopher Logue’s War Music, a blank verse account of several books of the Iliad, at the same time I first saw “Saving Private Ryan”. So I started to think about the brutal reality behind the heroic epic.

When you write an historical novel the first question is whether the book is to be driven by the plot or the context. With The Rage of Achilles, the question answered itself: the plot that I was given by Homer—okay, the plot I stole from Homer—-is the foundation of Western literature, the ur-story, and it proved to be so rich and so deeply human that its setting was a distant second. And we know comparatively little about the context; Greek cultural continuity from the time of the Trojan War—-1190 BCE or so—-was interrupted by a barbarian invasion and subsequent dark age. So we have this wonderful story with little means to determine how historically accurate it is. Story wins

Yes, Paris—-younger prince of Troy—“stole” Helen from her husband, Menelaus, King of Sparta, younger brother of Agamamnon, High King of all Greece. Agamemnon leads an avenging Greek army against Troy, defended by Paris’ older brother Hector. So it’s a war in which big brothers fight for the kid. In my book, I imagine the resentments, tensions, and humiliations that must have soaked the relationships between the players like blood in the Illyrian sand. Further, I show the relationship between Helen and Paris, a subject on which Homer is strangely silent. And that is a relationship all about sex; whether he acquired Helen through seduction or abduction, Paris wanted that girl bad enough to start a war.

Speaking of sex: The other relationship that drives the story is that between Achilles and Patroclus. Achilles, who decides to sit out the war when humiliated by Agamemnon, allows his “great friend” Patroclus to wear his armor in a raid against Troy. When Patroclus falls to Hector, Achilles re-enters the war to have his revenge. Such historic evidence that we have strongly suggests that the two warriors were lovers. In The Rage of Achilles I try to make it clear that Achilles’ thirst for vengeance flows not just from pride, but real grief over the death of a beloved.

Tom Perrotta, among his generous comments on my novel, remarks on the “deep strangeness” of the original. And that is something I want to emphasize: the craziest, most brutal things in Rage come not from me, but Homer, formerly locked away in academic prose and stiff translations. As I wrote the book, with the original open before me, I was astounded by what I found in a text I’d once thought dry: human sacrifice, a king sobbing his fear that his dogs will eat his genitals, an aged mother urging a son to stay out of war by offering him her breast again, on the walls of Troy, while all the court watches.

If you’re familiar with the Iliad I hope The Rage of Achilles helps to make it new; if you’re not, I hope Rage leads you to make acquaintance with the original.

Blood. Guts. Pride. Wrath.

The ancient clash of armies outside the walls of Troy is a cornerstone of Western literature. In The Rage of Achilles, Terence Hawkins brilliantly reimagines that titanic encounter. His stunningly original telling captures the brutality of the battlefield, the glory and the gore, in language that never relents.

Raw and compelling, The Rage of Achilles tells the story of Achilles, a monstrous hero, by turns vain and selfish, cruel and noble; of Paris, weak and consumed by lust for his stolen bride; of Agamemnon, driven nearly to insanity by the voices of the gods; and of Trojans and Achaeans, warriors and peasants, caught up in the conflict, their families torn apart by a decade-long war. The Rage of Achilles is an exhilarating story that has captured the imaginations of readers for thousands of years restored to immediacy.

"The Rage of Achilles is that rare thing--a genuinely fresh take on a classic text. Terence Hawkins' modern retelling of The Iliad has the paradoxical, invigorating effect of making Homer's epic feel oddly familiar, and of highlighting its deep strangeness at the same time." - Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children

"In this masterful account by Terence Hawkins, the Trojan War is infused with all the immediacy of a current event." - Richard Selzer, author of The Doctor Stories


Terence Hawkins was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Yale. His work has appeared in Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), Keyhole, Pindeldyboz, Ape Culture, Eclectica, Megaera, the Binnacle, and the New Haven Register. It has also appeared on Connecticut Public Radio. He is a trial lawyer in Connecticut. His website can be found at

Thanks to author Terence Hawkins and his team, Passages to the Past has got 1 copy of The Rage of Achilles (see synopsis above) plus a copy of The War that Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and The Trojan War by Caroline Alexander up for grabs!  One winner will receive both books!!

SYNOPSIS:  A groundbreaking reading of the Iliad that restores Homer's vision of the tragedy of war, by the bestselling author of The Bounty

Few warriors, in life or literature, have challenged their commanding officer and the rationale of the war they fought as fiercely as did Homer's hero Achilles. Today, the Iliad is celebrated as one of the greatest works in literature, the epic of all epics; many have forgotten that the subject of this ancient poem was war-not merely the poetical romance of the war at Troy, but war, in all its enduring devastation.

Using the legend of the Trojan war, the Iliad addresses the central questions defining the war experience of every age: Is a warrior ever justified in standing up against his commander? Must he sacrifice his life for someone else's cause? Giving his life for his country, does a man betray his family? How is a catastrophic war ever allowed to start-and why, if all parties wish it over, can it not be ended?

As she did with The Endurance and The Bounty, Caroline Alexander lets us see why a familiar story has had such an impact on us for centuries, revealing what Homer really meant. Written with the authority of a scholar and the vigor of a bestselling narrative historian, The War That Killed Achilles is a superb and utterly timely presentation of one of the timeless stories of our civilization.


- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address.
- Giveaway is open to US residents ONLY.
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below and please include the info in the comment section below.
- Giveaway ends on November 21st.




  1. Sounds like a great set of books!

  2. Awesome giveaway! :D
    Thanks a lot, please enter me into the contest! :)

    apereiraorama @

  3. I would love to read these, they sound really good.

  4. This sounds like an amazing book! I really liked The Illiad when I read it a few years back for a college course. Thanks for the giveaway!

    +1 tweeted:

    +1 facebook:!/michellestockardmiller/posts/166055620083560


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. What a great post. I did have missed this! Thank you, Amy.

    I have only watched Troy, the movie; so my knowledge was all that was shown in that movie. There is so much more! I am astonished. I would definitely want to read this book and the Iliad as well. Thanks to the author for this guest post.

    I would like to enter, I have a friend in US and she will receive this for me :)

    Thanks so much, Amy!

  7. I'd love to enter!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  8. These books sound intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway.
    Love & Hugs,

  9. Thanks for the great giveaway. They all sounds like really good books I would love to read. Please enter me in contest.

  10. Sounds like a great book.

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

  11. I loved the Odyssey. I can't remember if I read the Iliad. I must have, right?

    And I LOVE the share buttons. They are perfect for a lazy goat.

    I shared on Twitter
    Facebook and
    Google buzz

    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  12. I would love to enter, too. Thank you so much for the wonderful post, as always. I so look forward to reading this blog.

  13. The Illiad and The Odyssey have always been two of my favorite books - but have left me wanting more from them. I'm super interested in these books.

    I tweeted -!/dolleygurl/status/3582337375801344


  14. Interesting history during those times! Thanks for the giveaway.


  15. Deep strangeness indeed! I'm looking forward to reading this one. This sounds like a thoughtful, nuanced take on a complicated and, in many respects, culturally remote story. It sounds as if it would pair well with Margaret George's HELEN OF TROY. Those who still want more might like my own PENELOPE'S DAUGHTER, about the women left behind when the cast of characters in the Iliad sets off for the plains of Troy.

  16. What a powerhouse combination. To revisit the legend and explore the history behind it with these two books should give an excellent understanding of the time and events.
    Thanks for such a generous giveaway.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  17. Sound like great books :)

  18. Oh, sounds like a great retelling! I confess, I find Homer very dry to read but I do love the inventive way writers breath life into his stories. (Christopher Logue's War Music hooked me on the Iliad.)

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    thesibylqueen at

  19. Please count me in. Love the giveaway.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

    +1 blogged

  20. An amazing post, congrats Amy! And what a great giveaway, please count me in. ~Bella

    nunezbella at hotmail dotcom

  21. +1 I just blogged about it.

    +1 my FB link- Bella Nunez!/permalink.php?story_fbid=162636810438733&id=1373272023

    nunezbella at hotmail dotcom

  22. Sounds like a very interesting read. I have not read much about the Trojan War since college, but this has definitely piqued my interest.


  23. Tweeted:

  24. I am eager to read THE RAGE OF ACHILLES. I've been fascinated by the Trojan War and its many re-tellings. One of my favorite versions is Euripides' play, The Trojan Women, which has become a cultural icon as a timeless antiwar drama. Very powerful.

    sarlen6 at gmail dot com

  25. Sounds interesting!

    Posted on my blog at:
    On Facebook at:
    and tweeted at:
    My email address is:



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