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I've been reading Eric Shanower's comic book Age of Bronze, as collected into A Thousand Ships, the first of several projected volumes in his series retelling the story of the Trojan War. It's fascinating reading; he really makes the story come alive and make sense in a way I haven't seen before. The genealogy charts in the back are particularly enlightening, showing how just about everyone in the story (including some of the gods, who never appear onstage in this version of the story) is interlinked, though of course many of the connections are simply decisions made by the author. He has some very interesting notes at the end of the book about the choices he made to make the whole thing fit together into a coherent narrative. And there's a map at the beginning; I had no idea Troy was just across the Aegean from modern Greece, in the northern part of modern Turkey, at the mouth of the Hellespont (which is now known as the Dardanelles). I thought it was way over by modern Syria, north of Lebanon.

But the best scene in the book so far is a page in which Hektor/Hector tells Paris about Troy's political and economic importance; the art shows a very high-up view of the Mediterranean and the Aegean and the Black Sea, and Hektor's voice-over explains that Troy is perfectly but delicately "poised at the gate between one half of the world and the other," picking up a huge influx of trade goods as traders wait for the winds out of the Hellespont to let up. Makes all sorts of things make tremendous sense, and really grounds the story in a plausible political/economic reality, all done with a few sentences of plausible dialogue and a nice panoramic vista.

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