Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Plot: A retelling of the Trojan War.
The Good: Some people don't understand reading something when you know the end. I'm one of those who will always read a book about Troy, even tho I know how it ends.
I like Sutcliff's version of Homer's Iliad because it is a classic retelling. It doesn't introduce new characters; it doesn't give a modern spin; it doesn't change anything. I love that it tells the story as it is. I find it hard to appreciate versions such as Troy by Geras or The Firebrand by Bradley without knowing the original tale as it was told.
Sutcliff also maintains the historic elements. There are phrases and cadences out of the Iliad. The book is sympathetic to both sides; and also manages to portray the different morality and culture of the times. This is not historical fiction with a modern point of view.
Sutcliff is well known for her historical fiction, and I'll be tracking down more of her books to read.
And yes, I realize its a bit odd to talk about "historical" fiction when the events depicted in the Iliad may or may not have been real; and, of course, there are the gods. But you guys know what I mean!