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Heinrich Obermann, a celebrated German archaeologist, has uncovered the ancient ruins of Troy on a Turkish hillside. He fervently believes that his discovery will prove that the heroes of the Iliad, a work he has cherished all his life, actually existed. Sophia, Obermann’s young Greek wife, works at the site carefully preserving the ancient treasures she uncovers. But Sophia soon comes to see another side of her husband. He is mysteriously vague about his past and the wife he claims died years before. When she finds a cache of artefacts Obermann has hidden away, her suspicions about him rise, feelings that escalate when a visiting archaeologist who questions Obermann’s methods dies from a mysterious fever. The arrival of a second, equally sceptical archaeologist brings Sophia’s doubts to a head—and spurs Obermann to make even greater claims about the evidence he has found and the profound importance of his achievements.
In The Fall of Troy, Peter Ackroyd again demonstrates his ability to evoke time and place, and to transform history into compelling fiction. Like the Homeric epics that entrance Obermann, The Fall of Troy is in part accurate, in part fantastic. It is a brilliantly told story of heroes and scoundrels, human aspirations and follies, and the temptation to shape the truth to fit a passionately held belief.