The action in Cyrus moves between the two worlds millennia apart inhabited by Steen, a troubled teenager living in a dysfunctional family in an outer suburb of contemporary Melbourne. An angry young man who prides himself on his unbeaten street fighting prowess, Steen finds his dream-state alter ego, Cyrus, entangled in the final stages of the Trojan War. Side by side with Achilles, Agamemnon and many other revered Greek heroes, Cyrus/Steen experiences the exhaustion, fear, bloodlust and enormity of war at its most eulogized. Steen’s Greek heritage seamlessly connects him to a parallel time and place where fighting skills were highly prized and warfare was governed by rules, and where his own code of honour fits in.
Tsitouridis brings Greek mythology to life in a world where gods and goddesses reveal themselves to mortals and wield magical powers, intervening in earthly affairs which amuse, enrage or otherwise interest them. Over the years Steen revisits the ancient Greek world in his dreams and as he grows from angry adolescence, through the rebellion and risk-taking of youth and into a more stable period or responsibility the lessons learned by his counterpart Cyrus steer Steen towards control of his destiny.
A coming of age story with a difference, Cyrus shows how crucial it is to know your place in society, to know the rules which govern honourable behaviour in love, war, family and friendship, and to follow these rules to prevent mindless violence and chaos from disrupting order in society. And while Steen takes time to learn where he fits in, even the actions of great Achilles are guided by his own moral compass, not the expectations of society.
A knowledge of Greek mythology is not essential to enter into the world of Cyrus, but readers with an interest in Homer, Heroes and History will enjoy the parallel stories of Steen and Cyrus and recognise the age-old interconnected issues of victory, valour and violence explored by Tsitouridis.
Reviewed by Christine McGuigan March 2015
Available from Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au