Online Reading Challenge – May Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Fans of Reading!

How was your May reading? Did you find something incredible that was set in Ancient times? Or was this month a pass for you?

May was almost a pass for me – I rarely read anything set in this time period. I wasn’t coming across anything that grabbed my attention until I picked up the new book by Madeline Miller and just like that, May turned into another winner for me! (so far I’m five out of five this year!)

Circe is about the Greek goddess of sorcery. She is often depicted as cruel and evil, turning people who displease her into animals or monsters. But Circe is told from her point-of-view and, while she isn’t exactly a kind and gentle spirit, there is a lot more to her story than pure evil.

Born to the sun god Helios, Circe grows up in her father’s vast palace and wants for nothing. However, she is different than the nymphs and naiads of her family and is treated with derision. When she defies the gods once too often (turning a nymph she is jealous of into a monster) her father exiles her to a remote island. Here she must live alone and it is here that she hones her skills as a witch.

Although she is in exile, the world comes to her again and again. We see her encounters with Prometheus, with Daedelus and Icarus, with Odysseus and Penelope and her confrontation with Scylla (the monster she created). Circe grows and changes with her exile, regrets past mistakes and tries to atone for them. She is complicated and multi-layered, neither entirely good or bad, much like us mere mortals.

This book is incredibly well written. There is lots of beautiful imagery, but this does not drag down or slow the flow of the story. The stories of the gods themselves, as it has been for centuries, are compelling. Miller’s twist, to see it from Circe’s point-of-view, creates lots of new insights into these beings – they are selfish, egotistical, dysfunctional, vain and cruel (many of the mortal heroes are no better, especially Odysseus). That Circe has her eyes opened to these faults and tries to rise above them makes her unique and interesting. Highly recommended.

Now it’s your turn – what did you read in May?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I love Greek mythology, so after reading some glowing reviews I was excited to read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.  The novel follows young Patroclus, a prince who has been exiled from his homeland for accidentally killing a local boy who was threatening him.  He is sent to Pthia to be fostered by King Peleus, and it is there where he meets Peleus’s son, the boy who is destined to become The Best of the Greeks, Achilles.  While Patroclus is small and weak, Achilles is everything that a prince should be: handsome, strong, and even a half-god.  Despite this, Achilles sees something in Patroclus and takes him under his wing.  The two quickly bond and spend all of their time together, growing close during their studies.  But when Menelaus’s beautiful wife Helen is stolen from him by the Trojan prince Paris, a promise that Patroculs made in his youth comes back to haunt him, and he and Achilles are thrown into a war that neither of them expected.

Even those familiar with The Iliad and Greek mythology, despite knowing how the story will end, won’t be bored reading it.  At its heart is the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles; the characters have been made complex and intriguing by Miller, and it makes their story incredibly moving and heartfelt.  It is a beautiful story of war, love, and loss that you won’t be able to put down.