Olympiad➶ Olympiad Download ✤ Author Tom Holt – Oaklandjobs.co.uk This historical novel takes as its basis the fact that 2776 years ago a group of men ran between two piles of stones and invented history If that is history can be believed All we know now is the name This historical novel takes as its basis the fact that years ago a group of men ran between two piles of stones and invented history If that is history can be believed All we know now is the name of the man who won the race in the first ever Olympic Games in BC. Tom Holt's Olympiad was a very pleasant surprise instead of the usual staid ancient Greeks moving through their paces with reverent attitudes and deep connections to concerns that we no longer share the protagonists here are snarky brothers who narrate the attempts by the city of Elis to start the very first OlympicsThough my area of some expertise is several hundred years later from all I know about Greece at this time Holt is right on the money from the resistance to using writing to the non comprehension of the idea of trade to the sanctity of the guest and the ubiuity of the blood feud But all of this is delivered in a series of picaresue adventures as the two brothers travel through the Peloponnese the land area west of Athens where Sparta is located trying to convince aspiring athletes that funeral games are not the only time that runners jumpers boxers wrestlers and strong men should show off their skillsThe conclusion trails off a bit but the ride is fun the writing sharp and the window on the ancient world clear and clever Of course we can never know if Holt is right about how people thought and acted or other conservative writers are but I like this view uite a bit and I liked the book uite a bit too I think what this author is telling us is that the Olympics originated boringly Or at least before the age of mass entertainment everything percolated through at a very slow paceAs I understand it before this and from this the first sporting contests eg wrestling were only the accompaniment of funerary practices The Greeks probably started it then the Romans took sports one stage further by forcing gladiators to fight to their death at funerals thus triggering funeralsThe first Greek Olympic games we hear was essentially a religious gathering like the Athenian Mysteries but on an island over the course of a few days which happened to have a single running race in full armour and carrying a shield at the very end of it It was about honouring the gods and sport happened to be added on at the end The fact that sport became all it was about later was a modern transformationJust as the original Olympics was not about sport this book is not about the Olympics taking place; it’s really a narrative around the people involved in its creation touring all the islands and provinces to gather the diverse competitors I like this aspect although some readers will be frustrated by the wistful travelogue when they may have assumed they would be hearing about javelins records and stuffOnly in the classical ages could you go looking for an heroic sportsman only to discover that he died 200 years previously and lots of people have since appeared under his name at funeral sports thus increasing his legend The word of mouth storytelling tradition helped to boost his reputation and provided incentive to continue the pretence into the next generation Is this how HerculesHerakles became the legend he is set amongst the stars? It’s like when the longest lived goldfish in the world a school mascot was explained as a series of goldfish that had died when taken home by pupils in the holidays and which had been replaced many times over How many encores do you get?It’s a good book charming occasionally and worth reading It is very drifty and conversational though to the point where the plot goes missing for large sections Still it makes you feel good and passes on a bit of real history on the region culture and low key origin of the games An unusual historical fiction that pairs a thorough and insightful understanding of the ancient Greek world with a brazenly modern and arch tone Normally I dislike a modern tone and dialogue in historical fiction It comes across as lazy and breaks my sense of immersion However in this case it's not a problem because Holt's evident expertise in the world sustains his credibility while the playful and conversational tone makes for pleasant reading The story is something of a bumbling picaresue with the two brothers narrating their wanderings and misadventures with the wry detachment of decades of hindsight Yet tragedy peeks through the farcical tone often enough to give the novel some real heft Even for clever men of the 'better sort' the Greece of the 8th century BC is a harsh and arbitrary world One day you're enjoying the open handed hospital of a local lord the next you're walking the dusty road hungry and penniless There's a scene where the travellers approach a renowned city with great anticipation only to find it was burned to ground some time ago and now lies abandoned Time marches apaceThere are some puzzling lapses Early in the novel one of the brothers is described as a callow young man participating in battle for the first time carrying a package of food his mother prepared for him In the next chapter he is shown to be a man in his prime with wife and farm pulling an old chariot out of the barn And this is ostensibly only days or maybe weeks after the battle Several lapses of this sort give the impression of hasty writing and superficial editing Still Holt has a breezy voice and offers up some laughs without trivializing his subject Olympiad left a strong enough impression that I'll be seeking out of his works 42 WORD REVIEWNobody reading Tom Holt’s historical novels could doubt that he is K J Parker A scholar of Ancient Greek history Holt peppered his Olympic Games origin story with gritty realism and a profoundly resigned appreciation of the nemesis inherent in human nature I just couldn't get into it clever as it was I skimmed much through the middle I don't think this book is uite as good as the other historical fiction novels by Tom Holt but it's worth reading if you liked a few of the others Olympiad is a book which serves two functions as well as being an extremely entertaining and amusing read it also sums up the problems that any historian of Ancient Greece faces when trying to piece together a narrative of true historical events If Cleander and Cratus can't even agree on what happened to them twenty odd years ago and they didn't write anything down how can we trust the stories that were orally passed down over generations? And then again if the Phoenician visitor is the one who knows how to write and we're relying on him to tell us about Ancient Greece will the version of events that he tells us be coloured by his views of the Greeks as being uncivilised types who guzzle horrible wine and eat nothing but meat?The most moving episode to my mind is near the end when the brothers visit what they think is the home of a legendary wrestler only to find that he died decades earlier and has only lived on in the form of songs and stories But at least he is still remembered once the stories stop being told he will lose his favoured place in the Elysian Fields and be just another voice howling amongst the multitude in the underworld It's an uncomfortable thought even for somebody entirely without superstitionAll this makes Olympiad seem rather serious and worthy but it really isn't it just manages to be a lot profound and thought provoking than its jokey tone lets on Combining a solid knowledge of ancient history with dry tongue in cheek humour Tom Holt's Olympiad is perfect light reading It follows the misadventures of two brothers in the 8th Century BC Cleander and Cratus who set out with the blessing of their king Leon to promote a new concept games where nobody's died Trekking across the Peloponnese from Sparta to Mycenae Megara Argos and Corinth this conjures up a real sense of the lives and customs of the people who might have been involved in the first Olympic Games As Holt explains in the prologue the Games are important not only for their significance as a sporting event but also because the Greeks came to define their very history in terms of 'Olympiads' The previous reviewer noted how Holt uses this theme of memory and history to very good effect as a framing device for the larger story Highly recommended as the kind of easy chatty book that's perfect for summer or holiday readingTo see a longer review please visit my blog here Olympiad is definitely the first historical novel of its kind I've read It's humorous witty and ironical exploring the philosophical themes of history what it really is and the reasons behind why its recorded and for whose benefit just how faithfully it's preserved and how much we can ever know by studying itIt's also an adventure novel of modest scale No big occurrences or notable historical events occur during the plot which goes well with its lets not take ourselves seriously approach and this may bore some readers familiar with other types of historical fictionUltimately its driven by the characters a ragtag group of everyday louts and sometimes vagabonds It's fiction but set way back and Holt pulls it off admirably More dark irony adventures from the author this time in Greece around 776 BC as implied by the title but with lots of foreshadowing about the alphabet the Greek renaissance even RomeSame duo style of narration as in meadowland from two brothers this time telling the story to a Phoenician merchant now as the outsider whose comments contrast with the brothers' narrationPicaresue mis adventures around the Peloponnese and not only

Paperback  Ù Olympiad PDF ¼
  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • Olympiad
  • Tom Holt
  • English
  • 03 August 2014
  • 9780349113166