Circe – Book Review

Circe is a beautifully written book by Madeline Miller. This is the second book I have read by this author. It is another book set in the times of Greek mythology and like Song of Achilles, the words in this book are so descriptive that I felt I was there on Aeaea with Circe. I didn’t know much about this goddess, but that is what made the book more intriguing for me. This book is a very female book and deals with all things (painful and joyful) that are important to us as women. We walk with Circe as she learns more about her power and how she wields it do damage and to do good.

The book is full of love, betrayal and pain – what Greek story isn’t?! The gods are absolutely horrid and there were many times I was thankful that my God is nothing like Zeus or Helios. The struggles that faced Circe and the shear meanness of her parents and siblings were shocking. The book also helped explain a little more the tension between the Titans and the gods.

The ending of the book was interesting and wasn’t expected. I am not sure how I feel about it, but in the end Circe did what she thought best. She is a very interesting and profound character.  The story is “spellbinding”.

As a Christian, I am so thankful that these are not my gods. That my God is not an emotional wreck and He is constant and full of compassion and mercy. I just kept finding it surprising how infantile all them can behave. Even the goddesses. Helios, the god of the sun, and the father of Circe was unbelievably cruel to her and is nothing close to what I would want in a father or my husband to be to our children. These kinds of books are good to read because comparing religions is important. It not only strengthens the reality that Christianity is unique, but it also exposes the flaws of these other religions. I left this book relieved that I serve such a different God, who is strong, but under control. Who is just but merciful. Who is perfect, but forgiving. Who is vengeful, but longsuffering. Who is love, but also righteously wrathful. The qualities of God destroy and obliterate the tantrums of these little gods, and I am grateful to serve Him.

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I recommend this book to any lover of mythology. This book will probably be liked more by females than males.  I would wait until my daughters were 18 before I allowed them to read this due to the graphic nature of the book and the sexuality in it. None of my boys would like this book.

The book does contain a rape scene. There are other several love scenes that are very short and not graphic. There are other places in the book with severe gore and were hard to read due to the violence and how vividly they were portrayed. Ms. Miller is an excellent author and you feel the pain and loss of those who suffer. There are also strong cuss words throughout the book.

You can buy this book here. I heard this book through audible and the reader is splendid!

Song of Achilles – Book Review

Summary: The Song of Achilles is a book written by Madeline Miller and is the story of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship. The book is written in first person from Patroclus’ point of view. In the book we are told more about the background of Patroclus, how Patroclus and Achilles met, their training by Chiron, and the Trojan war. It is similar in setting to the Iliad and the Odyssey. The gods and man conspire and battle together and in the end there is always tragedy.

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My take: The book is beautifully written. Ms. Miller is an exceptional writer. Her way of describing what is happening makes the scenes in my head so much more detailed. Her description of the gods was also very well done. I could see Thetis, Apollo and Chiron so clearly I had to stop several times to soak in the visions. The story was also very entertaining and all the characters involved in the book were very well described and developed. The problem I mostly had with this book was the story line, especially towards the end.

The beginning of the book tells us about Patroclus and his hardships, and when he is exiled he finally meets Achilles and they develop a strong friendship. As their friendship grew, I did begin to notice that this book could take their relationship into a homosexual one, but I thought of the companionship of Jonathan and David and their love for each other and I hoped that the book would delve into that kind of relationship – a comradery and love between men, frankly demonized and unheard of now-a-days, but it didn’t. The whole book, almost in its entirety, is the romantic homosexual relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. I was a bit surprised by it because Homer’s Iliad alluded more to Achilles having the role of a comforting mother to Patroclus, rather than a lover and as an equal. Either way, the ancient Greeks were not known for their high sense of sexual morality, so the narrative wasn’t that surprising. What I did find surprising was the monogamy between them. There are not many heroes or gods in Greek mythology who were so “tame” as Achilles was portrayed in the book, so I did laugh a little out loud at the author’s attempt to twist tradition and, frankly reality, into a round hole using a square peg. Achilles practically being raped by Deidamia and his platonic relationship with Briseis is laughable. It clashes with his character. I would have easier accepted his love for Patroclus plus some philandering. Achilles sexual faithfulness to Patroclus just didn’t work very well in the story. It made him less real and less savage and he was renowned for his rage, according to the Iliad.

Caution: There are two homosexual love scenes that were not so quickly over in the audio book. There is also a love scene between Patroclus and Deidamia that also made me uncomfortable. There are several mentions of rape and of what the book calls “bed slaves”. There is also several scenes of violent war and gore.

 Let us Reason: Despite all the above, the book is still a good book. Her descriptions are a masterpiece. As a Christian, I really can’t be too upset with the author portraying pagan Greeks acting like pagan Greeks, it was her trying to make it “beautiful” that was more of my problem. If there is a conversation to be had about this book, for me, it would be that. Why do some sins not seem as bad as others? What are some of the warnings to consider when our hearts tell us it’s not so bad, but God’s Word says it is? What is so wrong with something if it doesn’t hurt anyone? These are all good and valid questions that Christians need to answer, because the Bible already has already answered them. Our hearts are deceptive and our feelings fluctuate like weather temperatures. It is a comfort to know that we have an anchored God in these storms who has made Himself known in Jesus and in His Word.

Recommendations: I recommend this book to anyone who likes Greek mythology and doesn’t mind a homosexual plot. Because of the plot, I do not recommend this book to anyone under 18.