Ahoy there me mateys! This be the seventeenth book in me Ports for Plunder – 19 Books in 2019 list. The crew has been gushing over this author’s work for forever and this book won the Goodreads Choice award for fantasy in 2018. So I thought I would give it a shot. While it was nice to get back to some fantasy after a wonderful Sci-Fi Month, this wasn’t quite a five star read for me. Before ye scalawags start throwing rotten fish entrails at me, I shall explain even though me ship me rules!
I have always loved Greek and Roman myths. I had to read them a lot – basically every single time I switched schools. That’s also how I got to take Latin twice, in both sixth and eighth grades. At the beginning of every sixth grade Latin class our teacher had us recite the motto:
Latin. Latin. Say what ye will. Is NOT over the hill!”
While I loved having to read the classics over and over again in school, the two Latin classes did not help me learn to read Latin any better. It did lead to an appreciation for the myths and legends and retellings whether it be in plays (like seeing one in the Siracusa Greek theater) or in books (like reading the Percy Jackson books with me nephew). But I majorly digress.
So I was very much looking forward to a retelling of Circe’s story from her point of view. First thing I did before reading was to go back and review some of Circe’s references in the old tales. I wanted it fresh in me noggin so I could savour the author’s choices in how she chose to tell and modify the sources.
This was the correct choice for me because I do think the author gave a stunning retelling. I thought the writing was sublime and was completely engrossed in the world and Circe’s viewpoints and feelings. I particularly loved from the beginning of the book all the way up until Odysseus leaves Circe’s island. And then the problems began with the pacing.
Personal problem was that I basically got kinda bored with the Telegonus section of him being born and growing up and all that. I get the struggle, I do. It was a little too much Circe angst and I just was ready to get back to the action. Once Telegonus comes back to the island, the book got much better though I was never again completely sucked back into the narrative. It became more of an intellectual based reading. I enjoyed it but just thought the first half was so much stronger. That said, I did think how the book ended was perfect. So despite me problems, I get the hype of the book. I just don’t completely share it.
As for the author’s other works, I have no interest in the Achilles/Patroclus love story (and no I won’t change me mind). I be interested in the short story about Galatea if the library has a copy. Have any of the crew read that one? Arrrr!
Side note: One month to go and two books left in me 19 in 2019. The end is nigh!
Goodreads had this to say about the novel:
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
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