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Where Do I Begin?: Retellings October 27, 2009

Posted by Heather J in Reading Ideas.

I’ve recently discovered the fun of reading modern retellings of classic works, hence the extra credit option for this challenge.  If you’re up for the extra credit then this list is for you!  It is by no means complete, and I can’t vouch for the quality of the works, but hopefully it will give you some ideas of the type of retellings that are available.  I realize that the list is a bit heavy on the Greeks – help me balance it out please!

The Greeks

  • Firebrand, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (the fall of Troy from Kassandra’s point of view)
  • Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin (retelling of The Aenaid through Lavinia’s eyes)
  • Ilium, by Dan Simmons (retelling of the Illiad set on Mars)
  • Olympos, Dan Simmons
  • Ithaka, by Adele Geras (retelling of The Odyssey)
  • The Memoirs of Helen of Troy, by Amanda Elyot (The Iliad)
  • Helen of Troy, by Margaret George (The Iliad)
  • Daughter of Troy: A Magnificent Saga of Courage, Betrayal, Devotion, and Destiny, by Sarah B. Franklin (The Iliad)
  • The Rage of Achilles, by Terence Hawkins (The Iliad)
  • Achilles, by Elizabeth Cook (The Iliad)
  • Pysche in a Dress, Francesca Lia Block
  • Till We Have Faces, by CS Lewis (the myth of Cupid and Psyche through the eyes of the ugly sister)

English & Irish Myth & History

  • The Ulster Cycle series, by Randy Lee Eickhoff – 6 books: The Feast, The Red Branch Tales, He Stands Alone, The Sorrows, The Raid, and The Destruction of the Inn
  • Cuchulain of Muirthemne, by Augusta Gregory
  • Son of Two Worlds: A Retelling of the Timeless Celtic Saga of Pryderi, by Haydn Middleton
  • Many books by Morgan Llywelyn
  • The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (King Arthur legend from the perspective of the women)
  • Le Morte d’Arthur, an Epic Limerick Vol.1, by Jacob Wenzel (retelling of the epic poem)
  • The Canterbury Tales, by Peter Ackroyd (modern language retelling)
  • Robin & the King, by Parke Godwin (Robin Hood)
  • Lady of the Forest, by Jennifer Roberson (Robin Hood)
  • The Sherwood Game, by Esther Friesner (Robin Hood)

Eastern Stories

  • The Storyteller’s Daughter: A Retelling of “The Arabian Nights”, by Cameron Dokey
  • Pancha Tantra – Five Wise Lessons: A Vivid Retelling of India’s Most Famous Collection of Fables by Krishna Dharma
  • Retelling the Ramayana: Voices from Kerala, by C. N. Srikantan Nair (reinterpreted from the perspective of women and Dalits)

Other Retellings

  • 3 books: The Singer, The Song, and The Finale, by Calvin Miller (A Mythic Retelling of the Story of the New Testament)
  • Grendel, by John Gardener (Beowulf from the monster’s point of view)


1. fleurfisher - October 27, 2009

What a wonderful list!

Can I mention a book that was published by a small press in my part of the world? It is widely available but under publicised. Knights of Love by Jane Tozer, a modern retelling of The Lais de Marie de France. Wonderfully done – in a similar spirit to Peter Ackroyd’s retelling of The Canterbury Tales that I am reading at the moment.

2. Paula - October 27, 2009

There are a lot of childrens book: T.H. White Sword in the stone (arthurian myth), Alan Garner Owl Service (Mabinogion), Susan Cooper Dark is rising (arthurian myth).

For adults there is Swedish Nobel prize laurate Eivind Johnson, who wrote a book based on the Odyssey, english title Return to Ithaca.

3. Rebecca Reid - October 27, 2009

Heather, this is such a great list! I’m particularly interested in all the retellings of The Iliad, since as you know I loved that one! Thanks so much for pulling this together. I’ll have to see if I know of any others.

4. sharingmystory - October 27, 2009

fleurfisher & Paula – thanks for the recommendations!

Rebecca – you have no idea how much my TBR list grew while I pulled this together …

5. Elena - October 27, 2009

Don’t forget Jules Watson’s The Swan Maiden, which is retelling Irish myth. And, there’s Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott, which is the beginning of Tristan and Isolde’s story.

You’ve got a few of my favorites on this list already.

6. Eva - October 30, 2009

Great list! Just to point out, Olympos & Ilium pretty much go together; Olympos comes first, then Ilium, and they should almost be published as one big book that’s how important it is to read them in order. Like Lord of the Rings!

7. Eva - October 30, 2009

Eek! I lied; Ilium comes before Olympos. Sorry about that. 🙂

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