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.
"A delicious working out of the theme of scientific fraud, this is a sophisticated, energetic, and learned work."
“This is Ackroyd’s most exuberant novel for years…”
“Provoking, unsettling, ingenious—and a delight to read.”
—Barry Unsworth, The Guardian
“Written in clipped, precise, instantly recognizable prose, The Fall of Troy is a novel about opposites—of truth and deception, fact and fiction, history and romance, love and loyalty.…But however you read The Fall of Troy—as a love story and mystery told in Homeric style, or as a deeper meditation on the relationship between reality and imagination—Ackroyd the novelist re-emerges triumphantly from the mud of his excavations.”
“The Fall of Troy is a clever variation on the story of the excavation of the city in the 1850s.…There is another layer, however, to this tale of fakes, falsehood and deception. For Ackroyd is playing throughout his novel with the status of his own narrative as a work of fiction…there are unsettling surprises as the story dances between pure Ackroyd and the fantasies of Schliemann, and a treacherous middle-ground in between.…Peter Ackroyd’s invention trumps even Schliemann’s mendacity.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“[Ackroyd’s] evocation of the landscape, the weather and the conditions of the Hissarlik dig are brilliant, and his minor characters…are deftly brought to life. Above all, he manages to suggest, in a book which is less slight than it may appear, that men who meddle with the gods do so at their peril.”
“Ingenious…briskly told and vividly realized tale…a gripping novel.”