Friday, December 2, 2016

Argos: The Story of Odysseus as Told by His Loyal Dog - Ralph Hardy

Summary: From a compelling new voice in middle grade comes a reimagination of The Odyssey told from the point of view of Odysseus’s loyal dog—a thrilling tale of loyalty, determination, and adventure.

For twenty years, the great hero Odysseus struggles to return to Ithaka. After ten years beneath the walls of Troy, he begins the long journey back home. He defeats monsters. He outsmarts the Cyclops. He battles the gods. He struggles to survive and do whatever it takes to reunite with his family.

And what of that family—his devoted wife, Penelope; his young son, Telemachos; his dog, Argos? For those twenty years, they wait, unsure if they will ever see Odysseus again. But Argos has found a way to track his master. Any animal who sets foot or wing on Ithaka brings him news of Odysseus’s voyage—and hope that one day his master will return. Meanwhile, Argos watches over his master’s family and protects them from the dangers that surround a throne without its king.
(Summary and picture from goodreads.com

My Review: Of course I picked up this book, it's about a dog!  And more than that, it's about Odysseus's loyal dog, the one who recognizes him even when in disguise.  The premise for this book intrigued me, and I always love hearing a popular, age-old story told through a different lens, (especially if that lens is a dog).

The writing in this book is polished, and the character of Argos strong.  For twenty years he's waited for his master to come home (a long time for a dog!), and we see his determination and diligence in gathering information about where Odysseus is, as well as protecting Odysseus's wife and son on Ithaka.  Who doesn't love a good, loyal dog story?

However, the difficult thing about a tale like this is the action is happening away from the story.  We hear the happenings of Odysseus secondhand from birds and turtles who relate them to Argos, which in a sense sort of lost the imminent danger for me.  Given, there were things happening on Ithaka that Argos has to deal with (wolves, the suitors, etc), but it was almost sort of secondary to the real story, which is Odysseus's.  A cool take would have been to not just have Argos as the main character, but other animals and creatures in different places along the way, like the Cyclops' sheep, Scylla and Charybdis, the beasts on Circe's island, as well as Argos, of course, when his part came into play.  That's just my opinion, however, and these secondhand tellings may not bother others.

Other than that, however, it was an enjoyable read, and a must for any dog lover, or anyone looking to view a popular story another way.  It was unique and well written, which I enjoyed.

My Rating: Three Stars

For the sensitive reader: Argos is a tough, protective dog.  He does everything he can to protect his master's family, as well as their lands, including from wolves and robbers, where he doesn't hesitate to use his teeth, to dire ends if necessary.

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