Long-time readers of Glyn Iliffe’s Adventures of Odysseus books will probably be aware that he was dropped by his publisher after the third book, The Armour of Achilles, which meant he had to put out the next couple of novels on his own (self-publishing). Thankfully for us, those were just as good as the earlier ones (read my review of The Voyage of Odysseus here) and, probably as a result of that, the series was picked up by a new publisher, Canelo. This has meant a whole rebranding for all the books.
Which brings me to Return to Ithaca, the sixth and final book in the series.
I’ve been reading these stories since I spotted the first one in my local library ten years or so ago. I have very fond memories of reading them in my car at work during tea-breaks so, when Canelo asked if I would like an advance copy of Return to Ithaca I said “Yes please!”
As ever, the tale is well written and the characters – although fantastic – have an air of realism about them that invests you in their fate. Will Odysseus finally make it home after two decades away from his wife and son? Will he rekindle his long friendship with Eperitus? Will he defeat the plague of warriors bleeding Ithaca dry?
I felt like it took a while for things to get going but by Zeus, once the action starts I did NOT want to put the book down – it is truly gripping. And that is a huge achievement for Iliffe because, as a student of classical history, I already knew how this story was going to end. Yet I was drawn in, unable to tear my eyes away from the pages as if the face of the Medusa was staring out at me! Okay, a tad meoldramatic but you get my point. This book goes out with a bang. There’s less interference from the gods and godesses in this one – mostly it’s down to Odysseus and his old friends and family to sort things out which seems fitting. Some of the battle scenes are a bit unrealistic but this is a work of historical fantasy so, like the other books, just enjoy it as the entertaining romp it is.
It has been a long and hugely satisfying journey for me as a reader. I felt Glyn’s pain when he was dropped by his original publisher and I’ve been happy to see Canelo rebooting the series with wonderful new covers and pushing the ebook versions to a whole new audience and this final tale is the icing on a hugely satisfying cake. It’s not exactly a happy ending – how could it be when the characters have been through 20 years of hell? – but it’s a hopeful finish with a clear message for us all to make the most of life and the future.
UK readers can buy the Kindle version here for just £3.47 – bargain!
RATING – 5/5
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