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The only thing I could remember about Circe when I started this book is that she was the witch who turned Odysseus's sailors into pigs and when she couldn't work her magic on Odysseus had an affair with him. This books ia about so much more than just that.  Circe was the daughter of the Titan Helios, the god of the Sun, the sister of Pasiphae, the mother of the Minotaur, and a nymph who's prime function was to be beautiful and entertain - except by nymph standards she's plain and by their standards has a terrible singing voice so right from the start does not truly fit in. She discovers her witchery almost by accident and when she uses against a tormentor is punished harshly.

 

Madeline Miller has created a powerful and complex story which seems to cover most of the charecters we've heard about in Greek Myths. One of the most appealong things about this book is how very 'human' Circe is - if that's a word you can use for an immortal - she makes mistakes, she does wrong things but she changes and develops. One of the best - and most surprising parts of the book is towards the end when the long suffering Penelope, wife of Odysseus, come to Aiaia, Circe's island and the interaction between the two women.

 

This is really a top rate book - I listened to it on audio and it was perfectly read -and it's good enoughfor me to search out the print version so I can read it in print some time.

 

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    • By chuntzy
      Let me make it clear that of the thirty-three chapters in this novel only the final thirteen  are set in the Troy of the Iliad.
       
      In the opening twenty chapters, which I think are more engaging,  Madeline Miller  writes of Patroclus, an awkward young prince, who has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. "The best of all the Greeks" - strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess - Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war (more so Achilles of course) and medicine - much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles's mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.  The developing homosexual relationship of Patroclus and Achilles is described sensitively and sensually. 
       
      In the last third of the novel Achilles goes down in my estimation and Patroclus rises.  I liked this aspect of the story-telling.  But on the whole I found the pre-Troy narrative more interesting. 

       
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