Circe
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.

Circe Details

TitleCirce
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 10th, 2018
PublisherLee Boudreaux Books
ISBN-139780316556347
Rating
GenreFantasy, Mythology, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Retellings

Circe Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    “Witches are not so delicate,” I said. I absolutely loved this. If you enjoy Greek mythology, complex heroines, and a generous serving of adventure, bloodshed, betrayal, magic, and monsters - both literal and figurative - then hell, READ THIS BOOK.To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Miller's The Song of Achilles when I read it a few years back. I'm not sure if that's because my tastes were different back then, or if it was just because the plot had more of a romantic focus than Circe. But, wha “Witches are not so delicate,” I said. I absolutely loved this. If you enjoy Greek mythology, complex heroines, and a generous serving of adventure, bloodshed, betrayal, magic, and monsters - both literal and figurative - then hell, READ THIS BOOK.To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Miller's The Song of Achilles when I read it a few years back. I'm not sure if that's because my tastes were different back then, or if it was just because the plot had more of a romantic focus than Circe. But, whatever the reason, I had no such problem with this book. I was absolutely captivated from start to finish.Circe is part beautifully-written literary fantasy and part divine Greek soap opera. This strange combination makes for a book that is extremely quotable, rich in description and detail, and also a pageturner. It moves seamlessly between the broader scope of the world and its many gods and monsters, to the more narrow focus of the nymph-turned-witch, Circe, and her daily life before and after she is exiled to the island Aeaea.Circe becomes a powerful witch, but the strength of her story is in all her relatable flaws and weaknesses. We follow her as a naive lesser nymph, longing to be accepted and loved. We stay with her as she believes the lies of others and, later, becomes hardened against such deceivers. Her compassion constantly battles with her rage. Understandably.There is some grim satisfaction to be gained as this woman who has been bullied, belittled and trod on her entire life slowly claws out some vengeance for herself. The pain she endures along the way means that her successes are bittersweet. In the end, Circe might be full of fantasy, backstabbing and murder, but it is first and foremost the story of one woman's life - through pain, love, desire, heartache and motherhood. I did not go easy to motherhood. I faced it as soldiers face their enemies, girded and braced, sword up against the coming blows. Yet all my preparations were not enough. Other Greek myths play out in the background - that of the Minotaur, and of Icarus, as well as many others - but it is Circe's personal tale that hits the hardest. I just hope we don't have to wait another seven years for Miller to write another novel like this.TW: Rape; graphic violence.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Victoria Schwab
    January 1, 1970
    Spellbinding.
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.✨ Signed and personalized copies are available through Main Point Books! (They can ship anywhere in the US, anywhere in the UK, and also to some other international locations) “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” This is the pièce de résistance I’ve been searching for my entire life. Not only did I fall in love with this story, I predict that this will be the best book I’ll read all year. This boo ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.✨ Signed and personalized copies are available through Main Point Books! (They can ship anywhere in the US, anywhere in the UK, and also to some other international locations) “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” This is the pièce de résistance I’ve been searching for my entire life. Not only did I fall in love with this story, I predict that this will be the best book I’ll read all year. This book is about healing and doing what it takes to come into your own. This book is about love; the love between lovers, the love of a mother, and the love you must find in yourself. This book proves why family of choice will always be greater than family of origin. This book is about magic, and how we can find it in ourselves if we look hard enough. This is a book about becoming the witch you’ve always buried deep inside you. “They do not care if you are good. They barely care if you are wicked. The only thing that makes them listen is power.” Okay, maybe I should start this review off with a somewhat personal story. I was very privileged to go a very good high school where I was able to study The Iliad and The Odyssey for a class my freshman year. And fourteen-year-old Melanie fell in love. To say I was obsessed was an understatement, and more and more my heart was filled with love for Odysseus, Athena, and a certain love affair with the witch-goddess Circe. (Beautiful art by Kevin Nichols) Even upon finishing that class, I still couldn’t get enough of Homer’s words. And to this day, The Iliad and The Odyssey are the only books that I collect many editions of. All my loved ones and family correlate these epic poems with me, and always bring me new editions from their travels, and give me gifts for special events and holidays the same way they do with Harry Potter. One of the most prized possession I own is an edition of The Odyssey that was given to me by someone who meant a lot to me, at a very important time in my life. And these two tomes will always be a big part of my identity, and I will always recognize that they not only shaped me as a reader, but they shaped me as a human being, too. So, when I found out that that Greek mythology retelling queen, Madeline Miller, was writing a book centered around Circe, I knew it was going to end up being one of my favorite books of all time. And it ended up being everything I wanted and more. I hate to throw around the word masterpiece, but if I had to pick a book to give that title to, I’d pick Circe. “Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.” And even though Odysseus plays a huge role in this story, this book is Circe’s and Circe’s alone. We get to see her growing up in Oceanus, with her Titan sun god father Helios, and loveless nymph mother Perse, and her three more ambitious siblings, Aeëtes, Pasiphaë, and Perses. We get to see her living her life of solitude, exiled on the island of Aiaia. We also get to see her make a few very important trips, that are very monumental in Greek mythos. But we get to see all of Circe, the broken parts, the healing parts, and the complete parts. We get to see her love, her loss, her discovery, her resolve, and her determination. We get to see her question what it means to be immortal, what it means to be a nymph in a world ruled by gods, and what it means to just live. Her journey is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and probably unlike anything I will ever read again. I have no combination of words to express how much her life and her story means to me. But I promise, I’m not the same person I was before reading this book. “…All my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.” This is ultimately a story about how different the tales will always be told for a man. And how the ballads will always be sung for heroes, not heroines, even if a woman was truly behind all the success the man greedily reaped. How the light will always fall to vilify the woman and showcase her as a witch that needs to be tamed, a sorceress that needs to be subdued, or an enchantress that needs to be defeated. Women, no matter how much agency they carve out in any male dominated world, will always be a means to an end to further the achievements of man. Always. And Circe displays that at the forefront of this story. Circe is most well known for turning Odysseus’s men into pigs when they come to her island in The Odyssey, but Madeline Miller does such a wonderful job weaving all this Greek mythology into a fully fleshed out, brand-new tale. She has created something so unique, yet so breathtakingly good, I think so many readers will find it impossible to put this new-spin of a story down. I was completely captivated and enthralled from the very first line to the very last line. This book just feels so authentic, I felt like I was in the ocean, on the island, and traveling right beside Circe throughout. And I never wanted to leave her side. “It was their favorite bitter joke: those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.” Overall, I understand that this is a book that is very targeted to me and my likes. Not only is this a character driven story, with a main protagonist being a character I’ve been in love with for over a decade, but the writing was lyrical perfection. I’m such a quote reader, and I swear I would have highlighted this entire book. This book is also so beautifully feminist that it makes me weep just thinking about the things Circe had to endure. And it showcases the unconditional love of found families, yet also between a mother and her child, while simultaneously abolishing the notion that blood is worth more than anything else in any world. This book heavily emphasizes that you will never be the mistakes that your parents have committed. The entire story is a love letter to love itself and reveals all the things we are willing to do in the name of it. And most importantly, this is a book about how we are truly only ever in charge of our own stories, even though our actions may change the fate for others around us. Please, pick this masterpiece up, and I hope it changes your life, too. Thank you, Madeline Miller, I will carry your Circe in my heart for the rest of my life. “That is one thing gods and mortals share: when we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.” Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, gore, murder, torture, physical abuse, child abuse, thoughts of suicide, brief scene with cutting, graphic childbirth scenes, mention of bestiality, mention of incest, animal sacrifice, death of a sibling, death of a child, death of a loved one, death of an animal, rape, adultery, and war themes. Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.Buddy read with Elise (My French Spider Queen)! ❤
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  • Ana
    January 1, 1970
    Hello, my name is Ana and I am a Greek mythology addict. A brief introduction to the deities of Greek mythology. Zeus (Thunder God, king of the Gods)Hera (Queen of Olympus, Goddess of marriage) Demeter (Goddess of the harvest, agriculture and fertility) Poseidon (God of the Sea) Hestia (Virgin goddess of the hearth)Hades (God of the Underworld, riches, king of the dead)Persephone/Kora (Goddess of Spring, Queen of the Underworld)Athena (Virgin Goddess of wisdom, craft, and war; companion of her Hello, my name is Ana and I am a Greek mythology addict. A brief introduction to the deities of Greek mythology. Zeus (Thunder God, king of the Gods)Hera (Queen of Olympus, Goddess of marriage) Demeter (Goddess of the harvest, agriculture and fertility) Poseidon (God of the Sea) Hestia (Virgin goddess of the hearth)Hades (God of the Underworld, riches, king of the dead)Persephone/Kora (Goddess of Spring, Queen of the Underworld)Athena (Virgin Goddess of wisdom, craft, and war; companion of heroes)Hermes (Messenger of the gods, God of thieves, trade, travelers)Apollo (God of prophecy, healing, poetry, music, sun)Artemis (Virgin goddess of the hunt)Hephaestus (God of fire and blacksmiths)Aphrodite (Goddess of beauty and love)Ares (God of war)Dionysus (God of wine and the grape harvest, God of theatre)Helios (Titan god of the sun)Selene (Titan goddess of the moon)Eos/Aurora (Titan Goddess of the dawn)Gaia (Goddess of the earth)Cronus (King of the Titans)Rhea (wife of Cronus)Nyx (powerful Goddess of the night)Hypnos (God of sleep)Morpheus (God of dreams)Hecate (Goddess of magic and witchcraft)Thanatos (God of death)Nemesis (Goddess of divine retribution and revenge)Prometheus (Creator of mankind)Eros/Cupid (God of love)Hebe (Goddess of youth)Muses (Goddesses of inspiration)The Fates/Moirai (Three sisters, weavers of a tapestry dictating the destinies of men) Shut up I don't have a problem. I've been waiting for this ever since The Song of Achilles came out. I have this thing about long-dead heroes from Greek mythology. Shut up I'm not weird. *clears throat* Thank you for this book, Madeline Miller. You are a goddess among women. A book about Circe. FINALLY. FINALMENTE. POR FIN. ENDLICH. NAPOKON.Circe was a sorceress, daughter of the sun god Helios, and Perse, an Oceanid nymph. You may remember her from Odyssey. Odysseus made Circe promise not to forcibly take his manhood. Trolling at its finest. Miller's Circe is much more humanized. She is a character you can root for. Here you will meet all the iconic characters from mythology. The Minotaur, Daedalus and his son Icarus, the infamous Medea, and the clever Odysseus. As usual, there is no shortage of fabulous characters. Awesome, brave and resourceful. Circe definitely is all three, with a dash of sass. I wished that they would come. I wanted to see those goggle eyes of theirs as I walked among the dens of wolves, swam in the sea where the sharks fed. I could change a fish to a bird, I could wrestle with my lion, then lie across her belly, my hair loose around me. I wanted to hear them squeal and gasp, breath-struck. It's Greek mythology y'all. You know you love it. You know you need it. You gotta have it. *Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.* It was about time. The perfect playlist to set the mood.https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
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  • destiny ☠ howling libraries
    January 1, 1970
    When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. Where do I even begin? This was one of the most amazing, beautiful, intricate, captivating books I have had the pleasure of reading in my entire life. I have been a bookworm since I was barely walking, and yet this book, this gorgeous retelling, has impacted me so profoundly that I genuinely do not know if I will ever be entirely the same. It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures—flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. Where do I even begin? This was one of the most amazing, beautiful, intricate, captivating books I have had the pleasure of reading in my entire life. I have been a bookworm since I was barely walking, and yet this book, this gorgeous retelling, has impacted me so profoundly that I genuinely do not know if I will ever be entirely the same. It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures—flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did. As a child, I loved Greek mythology, and though I lost some of that knowledge through recent years, when I heard that this story was releasing, I knew I just had to read it. I thought it was going to be the story from Circe’s point of view, but ultimately, I expected it to revolve around Odysseus; I had no idea that I was in for such a treat, though, as he is only a small portion of the immortal Circe’s life. This isn’t a retelling, it’s an origin story, a history, a tale of centuries’ worth of loves and losses, griefs and triumphs. The thought was this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it. From the very start, we see that Circe is so vastly set apart from her fellow gods and goddesses; as a nymph with the reedy voice of a mortal, she is told she is wholly useless, but it’s evident from the beginning that she is this brilliant, clever, strong woman: a force to be reckoned with in every way. I knew I would love her, but I couldn’t have predicted how fast or hard I would find myself rooting for her to succeed. But of course I could not die. I would live on, through each scalding moment to the next. This is the grief that makes our kind choose to be stones and trees rather than flesh. Of course, Circe’s exile on the isle of Aiaia is bound to be an unhappy story, and that’s a common thread throughout Circe: you always know something miserable or painful is on its way, but the moments in between those travesties, and the ways Circe handles the hand of cards life has dealt her, makes it so incredibly worth the ache. Perhaps the greatest thing about watching her struggle is how much relatability it lends to her character; despite being a goddess, an immortal, and a witch, Circe at her core is a spurned woman who has lived too long under the heels of spiteful, power-hungry men, and a wicked society that values beauty over strength. But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me. Of course, Circe’s tale is not entirely a desolate one, but her joys are often her curses, as she loves mortals and sees in them the same potential that cursed Prometheus to his rock. Throughout her life, we get to see relationships come and go, and I was enthralled by how incredibly sex-positive and sure of herself she remains. Rather than selling herself away to the highest bidder, Circe’s primary focus is to never let her pursuit of pleasures and companionship win out over her need to be her own person. “It is not fair,” I said. “I cannot bear it.”“Those are two different things,” my grandmother said. It was so enjoyable to watch the different characters cycle in and out of her memories, whether it was Daedalus and his loom, or Hermes and his messages and antics, or—of course—Odysseus, who we saw in a much more realistic light, as Circe portrayed an image of him that was far less heroic or noble than many of the legends would have one believe. There are even mentions of Patroclus and Achilles, and what became of them, though I was pleased to find that prior knowledge of The Song of Achilles was not at all necessary to fully enjoy this book. I would look at him and feel a love so sharp it seemed my flesh lay open. I made a list of all the things I would do for him. Scald off my skin. Tear out my eyes. Walk my feet to bones, if only he would be happy and well. Of all the things Madeline’s writing had to offer me, though, the one that meant the most to me was wholly unexpected: the perfect, beautiful depiction of motherhood through Circe’s relationship with her son. As a mother to a wild little boy of my own, I related to so many of her thoughts and fears, but most of all, to the utter authenticity of the love she describes for him. It consumes her entirely—for better or for worse—and her need to protect him holds such ferocity that she worries it will destroy her at times. Many of the thoughts she held for him gave me chills or brought tears to my eye, and throughout it all, I just kept thinking that I had never felt like motherhood had been so perfectly described as it is in this book. You threw me to the crows, but it turns out I prefer them to you. Truly, I could gush for days, but I’m going to cut myself off here and just ask you to please, please pick up a copy of this beautiful book. I sound like a broken record, but it meant so much to me, and has earned such a warm place in my heart that I know I will reread it over and over in the coming years. Whether you are a mother, or a lover of Greek mythology, or just a bookworm looking for a story that will capture you so wholly, you’ll never want to leave its embrace—this book is flawless, utter perfection, and I cannot possibly recommend it highly enough.All quotes come from an unfinished ARC and may not match the finished release. Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review!Buddy read with Heather! You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    You threw me to the crows, but it turns out I prefer them to you. My words are not as good as the ones in this book. Circe is a book about... finding yourself. But god, it stands out so far from just that. Okay, to get started, I’m just going to say it: Madeline Miller is one of the best writers of our time. She has such a way with words that it is absolutely impossible not to be engaged in her storytelling. The thing that brings this whole novel together is Circe’s character. She is a wo You threw me to the crows, but it turns out I prefer them to you. My words are not as good as the ones in this book. Circe is a book about... finding yourself. But god, it stands out so far from just that. Okay, to get started, I’m just going to say it: Madeline Miller is one of the best writers of our time. She has such a way with words that it is absolutely impossible not to be engaged in her storytelling. The thing that brings this whole novel together is Circe’s character. She is a woman who has done awful, evil things, and yet remains unfailingly human. She is lonely, and harsh, and hiding herself in sarcasm much of the time. And there is not a moment in this novel in which I didn’t adore her. Madeline Miller does such an amazing job developing this character, weaving her thoughts into the narrative without manipulating you into feeling a certain way, keeping the narrative wide yet keeping it focused around Circe. Throughout this novel I developed such a deep level of admiration for both this author and this character, this character I’m sure will stay with me forever. This novel is so interesting because at its core, it is an exploration of the voice of women in Greek mythology. Circe is a character we see nothing of in the narrative of Greek mythology, a character with seemingly evil intentions and little motivation – and all this despite showing up in several different stories. There’s something supremely excellent about seeing a character like this who is essentially a plot device be given a story. I know I have a tendency to repeat the term “narrative agency” but it beats repeating— I absolutely love giving characters who have been given no agency the agency they deserve. I mean, everything about this book was just brilliant. I loved the myth interpretation: Penelope and Odysseus are both written perfectly, and seeing Jason basically get called an asshole while Medea stood on being young and morally grey and in love was so fantastic. And the exploration of gods vs. mortals is just brilliant: You cannot know how frightened gods are of pain. There is nothing more foreign to them, and so nothing they ache more deeply to see. I loved the relationships — just as a special note, the relationship between Circe and Telegonus made me want to cry. I basically loved everything. I mean, I think you guys have gotten pretty easily why I liked this so much — a morally-grey-character-driven retelling revolving around agency is basically my entire what-I-like bio. This did all the things I like and I want to reread it daily and hourly. I very well might. [I also want you all to know this book gave rise to my favorite update meme I have ever posted so thanks for that!!]Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtubebuddyread with my favorite Melanie 💜
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  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
    January 1, 1970
    If you like mythology, you need to read this book!Personally it's not even something I'm a fan of but I couldn't put this... audiobook down. The narrator did a great job and her voice was quite relaxing. I ended up finishing the book in 3 days and taking detour on my walks just to be able to listen to it more!Would recommend.Now I need to go finish The Song of Achilles...
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  • Em
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, I have no doubt I will be able to keep up with this book. I am an expert on Greek mythology. I have read a Percy Jackson book.
  • Bookdragon Sean
    January 1, 1970
    This is a beautiful book; it is flawless and intelligent. I do not have a single criticism for this fantastic piece of writing. I loved it!Circe chronicles the life of a lesser god. She is the daughter of the mighty God Helios, the living embodiment of the sun. She is born without any particular talents or powers. She exists in the shadows of her more developed brothers and sisters. She does not shine in such spectacular company. However, gifts come in many different forms and those with hidden This is a beautiful book; it is flawless and intelligent. I do not have a single criticism for this fantastic piece of writing. I loved it!Circe chronicles the life of a lesser god. She is the daughter of the mighty God Helios, the living embodiment of the sun. She is born without any particular talents or powers. She exists in the shadows of her more developed brothers and sisters. She does not shine in such spectacular company. However, gifts come in many different forms and those with hidden talents are overlooked and devalued. More often than not quiet people are forgotten about and there worth ill-considered in all walks of existence. Circe’s family never saw what she could become. Power is important, though sometimes having none teaches one a greater lesson: nothing is worth having unless it has been earned. As such Circe wills herself into power as she discovers her affinity for witchcraft, especially the art of transformation.Her family banish her from their company for her use of such a lowly art, and in doing so they set her free. She finds herself in her exile. On her island home she finds a paradise not a prison. She becomes one with nature and finds company with lions and wolves. Centuries pass, ages pass, and eventually some rather important characters come her way. She meets Hermes and Athena, Icarus and his farther Daedalus, and Odysseus, a man who changes her life and causes her to make a very powerful decision that leads this book into such an excellent conclusion. “But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.” Circe offers a huge story, a story that spans generations and includes many Greek heroes and gods. Such is the nature of godhood, of immortality. When life goes on forever many notable people cross one’s path. And despite the huge number of famous characters here, none of it felt forced: it all slotted perfectly into Circe’s life. There are so many myths that intertwine with Circe, like the story of the Minotaur and the fall of Icarus, though despite the famous nature of many of them they don’t for a second overshadow her. She met Prometheus when she was young and decided that her life would not be the same as the other gods: she was going to be her own woman. And this is a book about her finding the most ultimate form of freedom. I could not recommend it more highly. I really liked The Song of Achilles though this surpassed it in every way. I really hope to see more from this author in the future. Five fantastic stars
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  • chandler ainsley ❁
    January 1, 1970
    for $27 this book better clear my skin, water my crops, and eliminate all the stress i have ever hadbuddy read with yusra!
  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    Men, can’t live with ‘em, can’t turn ‘em all into swine. What do you mean turn them into swine? From her earliest application of her new found transformative skills it is suggested that what Circe turns her unfortunate guests into has more to do with their innermost nature than Circe’s selection of a target form. (The strength of those flowers lay in their sap, which could transform any creature to its truest self.) Clearly her sty residents had an oinky predisposition. And I am sure that there Men, can’t live with ‘em, can’t turn ‘em all into swine. What do you mean turn them into swine? From her earliest application of her new found transformative skills it is suggested that what Circe turns her unfortunate guests into has more to do with their innermost nature than Circe’s selection of a target form. (The strength of those flowers lay in their sap, which could transform any creature to its truest self.) Clearly her sty residents had an oinky predisposition. And I am sure that there are many who had started the transformation long before landing on her island.Whaddya call the large sty Circe filled with erstwhile men? A good start.Ok. You had to know this would be part of the deal for this review. So, now that I have gotten it out of my system, (it is out, right?) we can proceed. When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. It was a word that Barbara Bush might have had in mind when she described Geraldine Ferraro, her husband’s opponent for the Vice Presidency, in 1984. “"I can't say it, but it rhymes with 'rich,'" she said, later insisting that the word in question did not begin with a “b,” but a “w.” Sure, whatever. But in this case, I suppose both might apply. Circe is indeed the first witch in western literature. And many a sailing crew might have had unkind things to say about her. Madeline Miller - image from The TimesOur primary introduction to Circe (which we pronounce as Sir-Sea, and even Miller goes along with this, so people don’t throw things at her. But for how it might be pronounced in Greek, you know, the proper way, you might check out this link. Put that down, there will be no throwing of things in this review!) was that wondrous classic of Western literature, The Odyssey. Given how many times this and its companion volume, The Iliad, have been reworked through the ages, it is no surprise that there have been many variations on the stories they told. Circe’s story has seen its share of re-imaginings as well. But Miller tries to stick fairly close to the Homeric version. Be warned, though, some license was taken, and other sources inspired the work as well. But it is from Homer that we get the primary association we have with her name, the magical transmutation of men into pigs.George Romney's 1782 portrait of Emma Hamilton as Circe - image from wikipediaWe follow the life of our Ur-witch from birth to whatever. She did not start out with much by way of godly powers. Her mother, Perse, daughter of the sea-god Oceanos, was a nymph, and her father was Helios, the sun god. Despite the lofty position of Pop’s place in things, Circe was just a nymph, on the low end of the godly powers scale. This did not help in the family to which she had been born. Not one of her parents’ favorites, she was blessed with neither power nor beauty, had a very ungod-like human-level voice, and her sibs were not exactly the nicest. Kinda tough to keep up when daddy is the actual bloody sun. Years pass, and one day she comes across a mortal fisherman. He seems pretty nice, someone she can talk to. She’d like to take it to the next stage, so she lays low, listens in on family gatherings, and picks up intel on substances that might be used to effect powerful and advantageous changes. She asks her grandmother, Tethys, (wife AND SISTER to Oceanos) to transform him into a god for her, but Granny throws her out, alarmed when her granddaughter mentions this pharmakos stuff she had been looking into. Left to her own devices she tries this out on her bf, making him into his truest self. It does not end the way she’d hoped. (Pearls before you-know-what.) Not the last bad experience she would have with a man. Levy’s 1889 Circe - image from wikipediaHer relationships with men are actually not all bad. Daddy is singularly unfeeling, and can be pretty dim for such a bright bulb, and her brothers are far less than wonderful, but there is some good in her sibling connections as well. She has a warm interaction with a titan, Prometheus, which is a net positive. Later, she has an interesting relationship with Hermes, who is not to be trusted, but who offers some helpful guidance. And then there are the mortals, Daedalus (the master artist, the Michelangelo, the Leonardo da Vinci of his era), Jason, of Argonaut fame, Odysseus, who you may have heard of, and more. There were dark encounters as well, and thus the whole turning-men-into-pigs thing. Brewer's 1892 Circe and Her Swine - image from WikipediaMiller has had a passion for the classics since she was eight, when her mother read her the Iliad and began taking her to Egyptian and Greek exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It made her a nerdy classmate but was a boon when she got to college and was able to find peers who shared her love of the ancient tales. It was this passion that led her to write her first novel, The Song of Achilles, a reimagining of Achilles relationship with his lover, Patroclus, a delight of a book, a Times bestseller, and winner of the Orange prize. It took her ten years to write her first novel, about seven for this one and the gestation period for number three remains to be seen. She is weighing whether to base it on Shakespeare’s The Tempest or Virgil’s Aeneid. If past is portent, it will be the latter, and should be ready by about 2025.Ulysses and Circe, Angelica Kauffmann, 1786. - image from Miller’s siteThe central, driving force in the story is Circe becoming her fullest possible self. (I suppose one might say she made a silk purse from a sow’s ear. I wouldn’t, but some might.) This is the story of a woman finding her power and, as part of that, finding her voice. She starts out really unable to say what she thinks and by the end of the book, she’s able to live life on her terms and say what she thinks and what she feels. - from the Bookriot interviewMost gods are awful sorts, vain, selfish, greedy, careless of the harm they do to others. Circe actually has better inclinations. For instance, when Prometheus is being tortured by the titans for the crime of giving fire to humans, Circe alone is kind to him, bringing him nectar, and talking with him when no one else offers him anything but anger and scorn. She is curious about mortals, and asks him about them, going so far as to cut herself to experience a bit of humanity. Carracci's c. 1590 Ulysses and Circe in the Farnese Palace - image from WikipediaLivestock comes in for some attention outside the sty. Turns out Circe’s father has a thing for a well-turned fetlock, so maybe she comes by her affinity for animals of all sorts, albeit in a very different way, quite naturally. Her island is rich with diverse fauna, including some close companions most of us would flee. An early version of Doctor Doolittle? Scholars have debated whether Circe’s pet lions are supposed to be transformed men, or merely tamed beasts. In my novel, I chose to make them actual animals, because I wanted to honor Circe’s connection to Eastern and Anatolian goddesses like Cybele. Such goddesses also had power over fierce animals, and are known by the title Potnia Theron, Mistress of the Beasts. Not be confused with The BeastmasterCirce and Odysseus. Allessandro Allori, 1560 - image from Miller’s siteWhile she has her darker side (she does change her nymph love-rival Scylla into a beast of epic proportions, which gets her sent to her room, or in this case, island, and there is that pig thing again) she is also a welcoming hostess on her isle of exile, Aiaia. (Which sounds to me like the palindromic beginning of a lament, Aiaiaiaiaiaiaia, which might feel a bit more familiar with a minor transformation, to oy-oy-oy-oy-oy-oy-oy-oy). I mean, she runs a pretty nifty BnB, with free-roaming wild animals, of both the barnyard and terrifying sort, a steady flow of wayward nymphs sent there by desperate parents in hopes that Circe might transform them into less troublesome progeny, a table with a seemingly bottomless supply of food and drink. And she is more than willing to offer special services to world-class mortals, among others. I mean, after that little misunderstanding with Odysseus about his men, (Pigs? What pigs? What could you possibly mean? Oh, you mean those pigs. Oopsy. How careless of me.) she not only invites everyone to stay for a prolonged vacay, but shacks up with the peripatetic one, offers him instructions on reaching the underworld, suggests ways to get past Scylla and Charybdis, and probably packs bag lunches for him and his crew. She is not all bad. Barker's 1889 Circe - image from WikipediaCirce struggles with the mortals-vs-immortals tension. Her mortal voice makes her less frightening to the short-lived ones, allowing her to establish actual relationships with them that a more boombox-voice-level deity might not be able to manage. Of course, it is still quite limiting that even the youngest of her mortal love interests would wither and die while she remained the same age pretty much forever. Knowing that you will see any man you love die is a definite limiting factor. Yet, she manages. She certainly recognizes what a psycho crew the immortals are, even her immediate family, and respects that mortals who gain fame do so by the sweat of their brow or extreme cunning, (even if it is to dark purpose) not their questionable godly DNA. Reinforcing this is her front row seat to the real-housewives tension between the erstwhile global rulers, the Titans, and the relatively new champions of everything there is, the Olympians. I mean, perpetual torture, thunderbolts, ongoing seditious plots, the nurturing of monsters, wholesale slaughter of mortals? She knows a thing or two, because she’s seen a thing or two. My thoughts about [Circe as caregiver] really start with the gods, who in Greek myth are horrendous creatures. Selfish, totally invested only in their own desires, and unable to really care for anyone but themselves. Circe has this impulse from the beginning to care for other people. She has this initial encounter with Prometheus where she comes across another god who seems to understand that and also who triggers that impulse in her. I wanted to write about what it’s like when you to want to try to be a good person, but you have absolutely no models for that. How do you construct a moral view coming from a completely immoral family? - from Bookriot interviewCirce Offering the Cup to Odysseus – by John William Waterhouse – 1891 - image from WikimediaOf course, there is a pretty straight line between the sort of MCP hogwash Circe had to endure in the wayback and recent events that have been getting so much attention of late “I wasn’t trying to write Circe’s story in a modern way… I was just trying to be true to her experience in the ancient world.”“It was a very eerie experience. I would put the book away and check the news. The top story was literally the same issue I had just been writing about — sexual assault, abuse, men refusing to allow women to have any power ... I was drawn to the mystery of her character — why is she turning men into pigs?” – from The Times interviewThere are plenty of classical connections peppered throughout Circe’s tale. Jason and Medea (niece) pop by for a spell. She is summoned to assist in the birthing of the minotaur (nephew) to her seriously nasty sister. She is part of Scylla’s origin story, interacts with Prometheus (cousin), gives shit to Athena, even heads into the briny deep to take a meeting with a huge sea creature (no, not the Kraaken). Hangs with Penelope (her bf’s wife) and Telemachus (bf’s son), and spends a lot of time with Hermes. She definitely had a life, many even, particularly for someone who was ostracized to live on an island. For Circe, I would say the Odyssey was my primary touch-stone in the sense that that’s where I started building the character. I take character clues directly from Homer’s text, both large and small. I mentioned her mortal-like voice. The lions. The pigs. And then when I get to the Odysseus episode in the book, I follow Homer obviously very closely… - from the BookRiot interview"Circea", #38 in Boccaccio's c. 1365 De Claris Mulieribus, a catalogue of famous women, from a 1474 edition - image from wikipedia In terms of sources, I used texts from all over the ancient world and a few from the more modern world as well. For Circe herself, I drew inspiration from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautica, Vergil’s Aeneid, the lost epic Telegony (which survives only in summary) and myths of the Anatolian goddess Cybele. For other characters, I was inspired by the Iliad, of course, the tragedies (specifically the Oresteia, Medea and Philoctetes), Vergil’s Aeneid again, Tennyson’s Ulysses and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida. Alert readers may note a few small pieces of Shakespeare’s Ulysses in my Odysseus! - from Refinery29 interviewCirce – by Lorenzo Garbieri - image From Maicar Greek Mythology LinkMadeline Miller’s Circe is not a lovelorn, lonely heart desperate for connection in her isolation, but a multi-faceted character (not actually a human being, though), with inner seams of the dark and light sort, with family issues that might seem familiar in feel, if not in external content, with sins on her soul, but a desire to do good, and with a curiosity about the world. She may not have been the brightest light in the house of Helios, but she glowed with an inner strength, a capacity for mercy, an appreciation for genius, beauty and talent, and a fondness for pork. This is the epic story of a life lived to the fullest. Circe is an explorer, a lover, a destroyer, and can be a very angry goddess. This transformative figure is our doorway to a very accessible look at the Greek tales which lie at the root of so much of our culture. If you have a decent grounding in western mythology this will offer a delightful refresher. If you do not, it can offer a delightful introduction, and will no doubt spark a desire to root about for more. Madeline Miller may not have a wand with special powers, or transmogrifying potions at her command, but she demonstrates here a power to transform mere readers into fans. Circe is a fabulous read! You will go hog wild for it. Can you pass the hot dogs? That’s All Folks The Sorceress Circe , oil painting by Dosso Dossi, c. 1530; in the Borghese Gallery, RomeSCALA/Art Resource, New York – image from BritannicaReview posted – 4/27/2018Publication date – 4/10/2018=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pagesInterviews----- BookPage – April 10, 2018 - Madeline Miller – The season of the witch - by Trisha Ping-----Bookriot – April 19, 2018 - Writing of Gods and Mortals: A Madeline Miller Interview - by Nikki Vanry-----The Times – April 5, 2018 - The Magazine Interview: Madeline Miller, author of this summer’s must-read novel, Circe, on seeing history through women’s eyes - by Helena de BertodanoNY Times - April 6, 2018 - A lovely profile from the NY Times - Circe, a Vilified Witch From Classical Mythology, Gets Her Own Epic - by Alexandra AlterMy review of The Song of AchillesThe Odyssey on GutenbergA very nifty, brief, and entertaining summary of The Odyssey can be found on Schmoop.com.A fitting piece of music from Studio Killers ================================STUFFINGA wonderful piece from Allan Ishac at Medium, on the Russia investigation. - Mueller Tells Staff: “This Swine Is Mine”President Trump is ready for slaughter, according to people inside Robert Mueller’s office. (Credit: wemeantwell.com and imgur.com) – from above article
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  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    ”It was true what Hermes said. Every moment mortals died, by shipwreck and sword, by wild beasts and wild men, by illness, neglect, and age. It was their fate, as Prometheus had told me, the story that they all shared. No matter how vivid they were in life, no matter how brilliant, no matter the wonders they made, they came to dust and smoke. Meanwhile every petty and useless god would go on sucking down the bright air until the stars went dark.” Sculpture by Nicolas-Sébastien Adam in the Louvre ”It was true what Hermes said. Every moment mortals died, by shipwreck and sword, by wild beasts and wild men, by illness, neglect, and age. It was their fate, as Prometheus had told me, the story that they all shared. No matter how vivid they were in life, no matter how brilliant, no matter the wonders they made, they came to dust and smoke. Meanwhile every petty and useless god would go on sucking down the bright air until the stars went dark.” Sculpture by Nicolas-Sébastien Adam in the Louvre.Meeting Prometheus in chains, very briefly, before he was taken to the mountain side to begin his punishment had a profound impact on Circe. He had given man fire, and in the process had angered the Gods. He was condemned by Zeus to have an eagle rip his liver from his body each day and eat it over and over again for all eternity. Mortals paid attention to the Gods more when they experienced more suffering. Fire reduced their offerings to the Gods. One might say that fire made them need the Gods less. Gods are fickle, childish creatures in need of constant reassurance. Circe was a daughter of Helios. ”At my father’s feet, the whole world was made of gold. The light came from everywhere at once, his yellow skin, his lambent eyes, the bronze flashing of his hair. His flesh was hot as a brazier, and I pressed as close as he would let me, like a lizard to noonday rocks. My aunt had said that some of the lesser gods could scarcely bear to look at him, but I was his daughter and blood, and I stared at his face so long that when I looked away it was pressed upon my vision still, glowing from the floor, the shining walls and inlaid tables, even my own skin.”She was the oldest daughter of the nymph Perse, and she was quickly followed by three siblings. When Zeus discovered they were all witches, he ordered Helios to slake his lust elsewhere. Maybe that was when Helios started turning himself into a bull and fucking his herd of precious cows. I’m not sure if that was bestiality or if it deserved some new moniker to describe such perversity. Painting of Circe by Joseph Herrin Circe could never win the approval of her father because she was simply not as beautiful as she should be. Her voice was too thin, like a mortals, and her chin was too sharply made. When I looked at a picture of the Roosevelt family with all those attractive features, broad shoulders, and waspish waists, Eleanor Roosevelt stood out. She was Circe amongst all that beauty. In a normal family, attractive attributes could be noticed about Eleanor, but standing in the midst of the Roosevelts she was a flower with too few petals. Circe’s siblings and cousins made her life a godly hell. They lived forever, and spite and vindictiveness were the slings and arrows of idle hands. She was lonely and made more lonely by the fact that no God would marry her, and mortals were simply not good enough for the daughter of Helios. She was discovering that she had powers. The very witchcraft that made the Gods shift uneasily in their thrones. She could transform an iris into a rose or a bee into a mouse. Then she met the mortal fisherman Glaucos. What she does to him confirmed all the fears that the Olympians had trembled over before. Her powers were a wellspring not yet beginning to geyser. Oh, and she turned the bitchy Scylla into a more representative version of herself. *Shudder*.Circe was banished to the island of Aiaia. *Sigh*. Perpetually misunderstood. I liked the way Madeline Miller tied in Circe’s encounter with Prometheus, who sacrificed eternal torment for humanity, and what would turn out to be her lifetime fascination with mortals. Chicks dig scars, and Circe was no exception. After growing up with Gods whose skin, despite what hazards are encountered, remained unblemished, those scars on mortals were fascinating to her because they told the story of their lives in every livid slash and puncture. They might have worn their scars on their skin, but Circe bore hers on her soul. She wanted to help mortals, but found that usually when she tried to help, she made things worse. Not that there weren’t bobbles in her relationship with mortals. After all, she did spend many years turning them into pigs, but then she was only bringing to light the least attractive part of their inner selves. She may have loved the mortal Odysseus the most, which brought her into conflict with: ”She struck the room, tall and straight and sudden-white, a talon of lightning in the midnight sky. Her horse-hair helmet brushed the ceiling. Her mirror armor threw off sparks. The spear in her hand was long and thin, its keen edge limned in firelight. She was burning certainty, and before her all the shuffling and strained dross of the world must shrink away. Zeus’ bright and favorite child, Athena.” OdysseusOdysseus might have been the cleverest man of his generation, but Circe would have had to be even more clever as she harnessed what power she had to outwit a God that wished to have Odysseus at all cost, but also wished to bring harm to Circe’s son, as well. A wonderful, reimagining of an ancient tale that was deftly brought to life by the assured, clear, precise writing style of a gifted writer and researcher. Don’t tarry any longer. Experience the pleasure of epic triumph and tragedy spun in the threads of Daedalus’s loom and wrapped in the magic that only Circe could conjure. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Navidad Thelamour
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars Madeline Miller’s Circe is an epic that’s sweeping the nation today. Everywhere you turn, you see that magnificent cover (honestly, that cover work is DIVINE and I’ve had the MOST fun photographing it for the Bookstagram). Twitter and Instagram are as we speak packed with Circe references and Miller interviews and, within all of that, Circe has found itself wrapped in all of the fluff and buildup and publicity of a typical ultra-hyped, big-named publisher release. Let’s be serious—mos 3.5 stars Madeline Miller’s Circe is an epic that’s sweeping the nation today. Everywhere you turn, you see that magnificent cover (honestly, that cover work is DIVINE and I’ve had the MOST fun photographing it for the Bookstagram). Twitter and Instagram are as we speak packed with Circe references and Miller interviews and, within all of that, Circe has found itself wrapped in all of the fluff and buildup and publicity of a typical ultra-hyped, big-named publisher release. Let’s be serious—most of us LOVE these kinds of releases and all the hysteria involved, even if we shy away from actually reading the hyped release itself. It can be a book lover’s dream--a book with all the fanfare of a blockbuster, silver screen release. I, too, was swept up in the craze, yet another smash hit from the publisher who brought us fan favorites like Twilight and whom I once interned for in London. But, in the end, I couldn’t ride the Circe wave all the way through.Let’s get one thing clear from the very start: Madeline Miller’s follow up to The Song of Achilles is an epic in the years spanned but not necessarily in the execution. To me, it read far more like a long story than an “epic.” When I think of that four-lettered word, I think of a novel that’s monumental and moving. I think of The Odyssey and sweeping sagas like A Song of Ice and Fire, even novels that are gripping and complex, long and treacherous as a Hajj like A Little Life. But Circe did not touch me in that way. In fact, there were moments—those times when the novel resorted to recounting the tales of the mythology we all know so well rather than putting the reader in the moment of these tales—where I was bored to skimming. In Circe, pages upon pages passed of one character telling another a “story” of others’ happenings, travels and wars: Telemachus telling Circe about Odysseus, Circe recounting the story of Hermes, and on and on. Who wants to hear second- and third-hand about the chronicles of these larger-than-life names within a novel that calls itself an “epic?” I’d rather feel and live the stories of these mortals and gods alike. Wouldn’t you?Circe’s life is a true saga, and Miller’s research and background in the Classics shines through in this novel and serves her well. But, there are gaps between the breadth and notoriety of the mythology she incorporated here and the skill with which the novel was actually written. There is only so far that building a modern-day epic on the backs of known names and legends could go; Miller needed to take us the rest of the way to make Circe a contemporary wonder, to make this a saga all her own. This novel didn’t quite make it across that bridge for me.Circe offered up a world full of color, a world of eternal life and leviathans, of clashing gods and witchcraft, all while tying in mythological tales that’ve been handed down for ages. Perhaps it’s only fitting, in that case, that it was overwrought with linguistic hyperbole—The sound was a piercing chaos, like a thousand dogs howling at once…She beat the cliff-side, howling her frustration. This novel was full of both drama and melodrama, only one of which is necessary for a sweeping epic. Yet, I had to appreciate the scale of story Miller told and the breadth of her knowledge in the Classics. Circe was a great story for sure, but I was never fully moved by how it was told. 3.5 stars.*** FOLLOW ME AT:The Navi Review Blog | Twitter | Instagram
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  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this book was fantastic! I felt sorry for Circe. But I did love reading about all of the gods and just the story line itself! This was the first book I have read by this author and it was a pleasant surprise. And that's all I have, there is no point in writing big reviews. You can read all of the book bumpers that have a million likes that write long reviews. I just can't do it any more. Happy Reading! Mel
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  • Bibi
    January 1, 1970
    *Spoilers*How I wish Miller's Circe was a reimagining as opposed to a retelling and I say this because there's little else that can be told about Greek mythology that isn't readily available online or at the library. A reinterpretation, on the other hand, gives an author creative license to weave a uniquely extravagant and fantastical story ( Now I Rise did it perfectly) and perhaps one in which a lowly nymph attains great powers, transforms into a formidable sorceress who then proceeds to defy *Spoilers*How I wish Miller's Circe was a reimagining as opposed to a retelling and I say this because there's little else that can be told about Greek mythology that isn't readily available online or at the library. A reinterpretation, on the other hand, gives an author creative license to weave a uniquely extravagant and fantastical story ( Now I Rise did it perfectly) and perhaps one in which a lowly nymph attains great powers, transforms into a formidable sorceress who then proceeds to defy and defeat gods. But, I digress.If Miller's ultimate goal for this book is to introduce Greek mythology to a new generation of readers, then, I think she succeeded. However, that's ALL she achieved.This story about an inferior but immortal nymph called, Circe, who is a progeny of not one but TWO Titans -Helios and Oceanus- is decidedly underwhelming, trite, and overwrought with both too many characters yet very little story progression. Presumedly, the author had a checklist of events (and characters) that simply had to make an appearance in the story, even if the tangent was superfluous and unrelated:Prometheus, and the banishment. CheckScylla, the six-headed monster. CheckPasiphae, Daedalus, the Bull of Poseidon, and the horror that was Minotaur. CheckLet's not forget, Odyssey.And HermesAnd AthenaAnd many others who (please listen closely) WERE NOT REQUIRED TO MOVE THIS STORY FORWARD. Think I'm making this up? Well, let's see what the story's about shall we?1. Circe is so dull and uninteresting that2. Pretty much everyone ignores her; that is, until... 3. She uses her magic to turn Scylla into the six-headed monster. 4. Consequently, she's exiled to an island5. Where she at times turned unsavoury sailors into pigs6. Eventually leaving the island only after having lived there for centuries.7. The end.All in all, I think if you're new to mythology then this is for you; but even then I'd recommend reading Greek Mythology: A Captivating Guide to the Ancient Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, and Monsters instead.
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  • Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.5 stars
  • The Serendipity Aegis ~ ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
    January 1, 1970
    8 April 2018Oh, Gosh! I want it now! Can't wait for the publication! I expect it to be 5 stars... So, forgive me for prerating it already. It's like earmarking a favourite page...Remember, I'm a sucker for all things Ancient Greece. Classical mythos are my blood, my marrow... I grew up on them. Circe was never my fav, I felt she was a villain, a malicious sorceress for her part in Odyssey... Let's see if this book helps me get a different perception on this legendary gal.15 April 2018So... This 8 April 2018Oh, Gosh! I want it now! Can't wait for the publication! I expect it to be 5 stars... So, forgive me for prerating it already. It's like earmarking a favourite page...Remember, I'm a sucker for all things Ancient Greece. Classical mythos are my blood, my marrow... I grew up on them. Circe was never my fav, I felt she was a villain, a malicious sorceress for her part in Odyssey... Let's see if this book helps me get a different perception on this legendary gal.15 April 2018So... This is very different from how I imagined this. First, we are acquainted with parental neglect. A one masquerading as a lot of different things.Then we go straight to other things. Pharmakis, witch... Funny, how I never gave a thought to how Circe went to get to that island of hers. I guess I just thought she liked it a lot there. The ending… it was powerful, in its own right, for the dimension where it is unique. In our human world of today's insecure overachievers it seems weak and for the contemporaries, striving to do an inch better, to go a step further and to be a second faster - it might even seem defeatist. It's not so. One just needs to open mind to the realm of possibilities that Circe worked with, lived with and chose to do without.Q:WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist. (c)Q:That word, nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride. (c)Q:My father glowed bright as just-forged bronze, while Oceanos had been born with rheumy eyes and a white beard to his lap. Yet they were both Titans, and preferred each other’s company to those new-squeaking gods upon Olympus who had not seen the making of the world. (c)Q:Conditions, constrainment. These were novelties to my father, and gods love nothing more than novelty. (c)Q:“Come,” she said. “Let us make a better one.” (c)Q:My father had already departed for his chariot in the sky, and she was winding her hair with flowers, preparing to leave through the secret ways of water, to join her sisters on their grassy riverbanks. (c)Q:My father has never been able to imagine the world without himself in it. (c)Q:Divine days fall like water from a cataract, and I had not learned yet the mortal trick of counting them. (c)Q:hand. “You,” he said to my luminous sister Pasiphaë. “You will marry an eternal son of Zeus.” He used his prophecy voice, the one that spoke of future certainties. My mother glowed to hear it, thinking of the robes she would wear to Zeus’ feasts. (c)Q:Lampetia and Phaethousa, their names were. Radiant and Shining. (c)Q:Helios the Sun was bound to no will but his own, and none might say what he would do. “Father,” I said that day, “are we late enough to kill astronomers?” (c)Q:It was my first lesson. Beneath the smooth, familiar face of things is another that waits to tear the world in two. (c) Q: Hours passed, perhaps days. But even gods cannot watch a whipping for eternity. (c)Q:Bold action and bold manner are not the same. (c)Q:How does your divinity feel? (c)Q:I do think he loved me a little. For before I could say the thousand humiliating things in my heart, all the proofs of passion I had hoarded, the crawling devotions I would do, I felt his power come around me. And with that same flick he had used upon the cushions, he sent me back to my rooms. (c)Q:Those flowers had made him his true being, which was blue, and finned, and not mine. (c)Q:I had made so many mistakes that I could not find my way back through their tangle to the first one. ... I felt a sickening unease that it went back further still, back to the first breath I ever drew. (c)Q:I can veil the sky itself. Just try to watch me. (c)Q:The torches burned like stars, and overhead the ceilings stretched high as the sky’s vault. For the last time, I watched all the gods and nymphs take their places. I felt dazed. (c)Q:My heart had leapt to see him as it always did. But he was like that column of water he had told me of once, cold and straight, sufficient to himself. (c)Q:The lands streamed by and the wind ran across my skin. I imagined pitching over that golden rail into the open air below. It would feel good, I thought, before I hit. (c)Q:All those years I had spent with them were like a stone tossed in a pool. Already, the ripples were gone. (c)Q:To be utterly alone. What worse punishment could there be, my family thought, than to be deprived of their divine presence? (с)Q:We were nymphs, not worth the trouble. (c)Q:Even our exiles live better than kings. You see how deep our strength runs? If you strike us, Olympian, we rise higher than before. (c)Q:Pharmakis, Aeëtes named me, witch, but all my strength was in those flowers, oceans away. (c)Q:No wonder I have been so slow, I thought. All this while, I have been a weaver without wool, a ship without the sea. Yet now look where I sail. (c)Q:The flowers, when they saw me, seemed to press forward like eager puppies, leaping and clamoring for my touch. I felt almost shy of them, but day by day I grew bolder, and at last I knelt in the damp earth before a clump of hellebore. (c)Q:I had a little pride, as I have said, and that was good. More would have been fatal. (c)Q:Let me say what sorcery is not: it is not divine power, which comes with a thought and a blink. It must be made and worked, planned and searched out, dug up, dried, chopped and ground, cooked, spoken over, and sung. Even after all that, it can fail, as gods do not. If my herbs are not fresh enough, if my attention falters, if my will is weak, the draughts go stale and rancid in my hands.By rights, I should never have come to witchcraft. Gods hate all toil, it is their nature. ...Witchcraft is nothing but such drudgery. Each herb must be found in its den, harvested at its time, grubbed up from the dirt, culled and stripped, washed and prepared. It must be handled this way, then that, to find out where its power lies. Day upon patient day, you must throw out your errors and begin again. So why did I not mind? Why did none of us mind? (c)Q:For a hundred generations, I had walked the world drowsy and dull, idle and at my ease. I left no prints, I did no deeds. Even those who had loved me a little did not care to stay. (c)Q:Then I learned that I could bend the world to my will, as a bow is bent for an arrow. I would have done that toil a thousand times to keep such power in my hands. (c)Q:One rose would give up its secrets if it were ground, another must be pressed, a third steeped. Each spell was a mountain to be climbed anew. All I could carry with me from last time was the knowledge that it could be done. (c)Q:I did not call dragons, or summon serpents. My earliest charms were silly things, whatever came into my head. (c)Q:My powers lapped upon themselves like waves. (c)Q:Into the air I said, Wherever you are, I hope you are finding your satisfaction.Which, of course, now I know she was. (c)Q:My gaze seemed brighter, my face sharper, and there behind me paced my wild lion familiar. (c)Q:Well? What do you have to say to me? You threw me to the crows, but it turns out I prefer them to you. (c)Q:I felt myself tremble, but I would not let him see it. Great gods smell fear like sharks smell blood, and they will devour you for it just the same. (c)Q:But there was something in me that was sick of fear and awe, of gazing at the heavens and wondering what someone would allow me. (c)Q:Hermes’ mind was a thousand times sharper and more swift. It shone like light upon the waves, dazzling to blindness. (c)Q:Watching Zeus and Helios negotiate is always good entertainment. Like two volcanoes trying to decide if they should blow. (c)Q:He had fought in the great war, I remembered. He had seen the sky burn, and slain a giant whose head brushed the clouds. For all his lightness, I found I could imagine it. (c)Q:He made you want to spill your secrets. (c)Q:In a minute he had unraveled one of the great mysteries of my life. ... It was a shock, and yet there was part of me that felt something almost like recognition. (c)Q:“Do you know the name of this island?” I said.“I would be a poor god of travelers if I did not know all the places in the world.” (c)Q:His eyes shone like dark gems held to light. They were black, one of the marks of deep-running power, from the line of the oldest gods. ... The same blood runs in all our veins. (c)Q:I owed him nothing. He would have of me only what I wanted to give. (c)Q:He was a poison snake, and I was another, and on such terms we pleased ourselves. (c)Q:My mother had gotten over her tears and added Mother of Witches to her titles, swanning with it among my aunts. (c)Q:We laughed over all of it, and when he left, I knew he told stories of me in turn: my dirt-black fingernails, my musky lion, the pigs that had begun coming to my door, truffling for slops and a scratch on the back. And, of course, how I had thrown myself upon him as a blushing virgin. (c)Q:“I suppose you might go and visit Prometheus,” I said. “You and your wings. Bring him something for comfort.”“And why should I do that?”“For novelty’s sake, of course. The first good deed in your dissolute life. Aren’t you curious what it would feel like?” (c)Q:My witchcraft, the island, my lion, all of them sprang from her transformation. There was no honesty in regretting what had given me my life. (c)Q:Monsters are a boon to gods. Imagine all the prayers. (c)Q:Would I be skimmed milk for crying, or a harpy with a heart of stone? There was nothing between. Anything else did not fit cleanly in the laughing tale he wanted to spin of it. (c)Q:I did not bring a torch. My eyes shone in the dark better than any owl’s. (c)Q:Oh, Father, did you know the gift you gave me? For that flower, so delicate it could dissolve beneath your stepping foot, carried within it the unyielding power of apotrope, the turning aside of evil. Curse-breaker. Ward and bulwark against ruin, worshipped like a god, for it was pure. The only thing in all the world you could be certain would not turn against you. (c)Q:Yet always I remembered.Cold smoke, marked with my name. (c)Q:Of all the mortals on the earth, there are only a few the gods will ever hear of. Consider the practicalities. By the time we learn their names, they are dead. They must be meteors indeed to catch our attention. The merely good: you are dust to us. (c)Q:“What a relief to hear of my reprieve,” I said. “I cannot wait to be freed from my terrible prison.” The terraced hills around us glowed with spring. (c)Q:How could such variation endure, such endless iteration of minds and faces? Did the earth not go mad? (c)Q:That was what he desired most of all: to drive others into doubt, keep them wondering and fretting, stumbling behind his dancing feet. (c)Q:Fear of failure was the worst thing for any spell. (c)Q:But there was no wound she could give me that I had not already given myself. (c)Q:But now I understood more: he, too, knew what it was to make monsters. (c)Q:I did not walk as a mortal walks, but as a god, and the miles fell away beneath my feet. (c)Q:Most gods and mortals have lives that are tied to nothing; they tangle and wend now here, now there, according to no set plan. But then there are those who wear their destinies like nooses, whose lives run straight as planks, however they try to twist. It is these that our prophets may see. (c)Q:I felt an idea rise in me. I would need all the secret herbs of Dicte, and with them the strongest binding weeds, ilex root and withy, fennel and hemlock, aconite, hellebore. I would need as well the rest of my moly stores. I slipped through those trees unerring, hunting down each ingredient in its turn. If Artemis walked that night, she kept out of my way. (c)Q:I watched the knowledge settle on him. All the days ahead that he must be on his guard. He drew a breath. (c)Q:Griffins preened, delicate and regal, on the walls. The windows spilled sun. (c)Q:This was how mortals found fame, I thought. Through practice and diligence, tending their skills like gardens until they glowed beneath the sun. But gods are born of ichor and nectar, their excellences already bursting from their fingertips. So they find their fame by proving what they can mar: destroying cities, starting wars, breeding plagues and monsters. (c) Q:Every step was perfect, like a gift she gave herself, and she smiled, receiving it. I wanted to seize her by the shoulders. Whatever you do, I wanted to say, do not be too happy. It will bring down fire on your head.I said nothing, and let her dance. (c)Q:They are not naturally fools, it is only that they are caught between two scorpions. (c)Q:He becomes the great king who begets monsters and names them after himself. (c)Q:In thanks, it would know no comrade, no lover. It would never see the sun, never take a free step. There was nothing it might ever have in the world but hatred and darkness and its teeth. (c)Q:I had never thought of having children, but looking at him, for a moment I could imagine it. As if I peered into a well and far below glimpsed a flash of water. (c)Q:I turned away from my cell. I walked as a god, unseen, past the drowsing guards, past the night servants. (c)Q:“It was a gift, of course. Who else would have enjoyed seeing me bleed so much?”“I can think of a thousand.” (c)Q:“I’ve been thinking,” she said, “of naming my son Asterion. Do you like it?”Starry one, it meant. “The prettiest name for a cannibal I ever heard.” (c)Q:My mind was bare, my skin bristling as if it would rise off my flesh (c)Q:Timidity creates nothing. (c)Q:I was a goddess, and he a mortal, and both of us were imprisoned. But I pressed his face into my mind, as seals are pressed in wax, so I could carry it with me. (c)Q:But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me. (c)Q:The lion glared from my threshold. (c)Q:After my father’s halls, the island seemed to me the wildest, most giddy freedom. Its shores, its peaks, all of them yawned out to the horizon, filled up with magic. (c)Q:I had walked the earth for a hundred generations, yet I was still a child to myself. Rage and grief, thwarted desire, lust, self-pity: these are emotions gods know well. But guilt and shame, remorse, ambivalence, those are foreign countries to our kind, which must be learned stone by stone. (c)Q:After I had sailed away, he said, Minos and Pasiphaë’s eldest, Androgeos, had visited the mainland and been killed near Athens. By then, the people of Crete were restive at having to lose their sons and daughters every harvest, and were threatening revolt. Minos seized his opportunity. He demanded, as payment for his son, that the Athenian king send seven youths and seven maids to feed the monster, or else Crete’s mighty navy would bring war. (c)Q:No matter how vivid they were in life, no matter how brilliant, no matter the wonders they made, they came to dust and smoke. (c)Q:It was not magic they asked for, but the oldest rite of our kind. Katharsis. The cleansing by smoke and prayer, water and blood. (c)Q:I had no altar, but I did not need one: anywhere I was became my temple. (c)Q:I had expected her to be beautiful, for she walked like a queen of the gods, but it was an odd beauty, not like my mother’s or sister’s. Each of her features alone was nothing, her nose too sharp, her chin over-strong. Yet together they made a whole like the heart of a flame. You could not look away. (c)Q:Coming to him at night, in secret, that face of hers the only light. (c)Q:Now that I knew who she was, such meekness looked absurd on her, like a great eagle trying to hunch down to fit inside a sparrow’s nest. (c)Q:In his mind, he was already telling the tale to his court, to wide-eyed nobles and fainting maidens. He did not thank Medea for her aid; he scarcely looked at her. As if a demigoddess saving him at every turn was only his due. (c)Q:Perhaps that is why suppliants may not be questioned. How many of us would be granted pardon if our true hearts were known? (c)Q:I have wondered if they are merely empty shells, or if they understand what is being done to them and scream inside. (c)Q:“Does Jason know all this?”“Of course he does not, are you mad? Every time he looked at me, he would think of poisons and burning skin. A man wants a wife like new grass, fresh and green.” (c)Q:Her skin was cool, as if she had been walking a long time in the wind. (c)Q:She stood fixed in her outrage, bright and defiant. ... Just so must I have seemed to my grandmother when she said to me: Those are two different things. (c)Q:They drew up the anchor and sailed into the darkness, their path lit only by the veiled moon and the unwavering gold of Medea’s eyes. (c)Q:Use your imagination, they must be good for something. Take them to your bed.”“That is absurd,” I said. “They would run screaming.”“Nymphs always do,” he said. “But I’ll tell you a secret: they are terrible at getting away.” (с)Q:The truth is, men make terrible pigs. (c)Q:Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep. (c)Q:When he talked, he was lawyer and bard and crossroads charlatan at once, arguing his case, entertaining, pulling back the veil to show you the secrets of the world. (c)Q:A door that did not open at his knock was a novelty in its own right, and a kind of relief as well. All the world confessed to him. He confessed to me. (c)Q:I led him to my room and spoke there the knowledge that had been rising in me all day, quick and unceasing, like bubbles from a stream. (c)Q:It was one of my favorite things about him: how he always fought for his chance. (c)Q:Such were my years then. I would like to say that all the while I waited to break out, but the truth is, I’m afraid I might have floated on, believing those dull miseries were all there was, until the end of days. (c)Q:Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none. (c)Q:I would show him all the wonders I had gathered for him, this island and its sky, the fruits and sheep, the waves and lions. The perfect solitude that would never be loneliness again. (c)Q:I laid him in his crib, then drew it close to the fire and set my lions and wolves around it. They could not stop a god, but most divinities are cowards. Claws and teeth might buy me a little time. (с)Q:Do not listen to your enemy, Odysseus had once told me. Look at them. It will tell you everything. I looked. Armed and armored, she was, from head to foot, helmet, spear, aigis, greaves. A terrifying vision: the goddess of war, ready for battle. But why had she assembled such a panoply against me, who knew nothing of combat? Unless there was something else she feared, something that made her feel somehow stripped and weak. Instinct carried me forward, the thousand hours I had spent in my father’s halls, and with Odysseus polymetis, man of so many wiles. (c)Q:But Athena had no babe, and she never would. Her only love was reason. And that has never been the same as wisdom. (c)Q:“We are not our blood,” ... “A witch once told me that.” (c)Q:I did not pretend to be a mortal. I showed my lambent, yellow eyes at every turn. None of it made a difference. I was alone and a woman, that was all that mattered. (c)
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsSuch a great book! You do not need to be a fan of mythology to read this book! Confession - I requested this book because I saw it on a list about "anticipated books of 2018” It did not disappoint. If anything this book dazzled! Anticipate this book folks and rush out and get yourself a copy when it becomes available (or request it on NetGalley as I did!).Circe is the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans. Her mother, Perse, an Oceanid naiad is beautiful and 4.5 starsSuch a great book! You do not need to be a fan of mythology to read this book! Confession - I requested this book because I saw it on a list about "anticipated books of 2018” It did not disappoint. If anything this book dazzled! Anticipate this book folks and rush out and get yourself a copy when it becomes available (or request it on NetGalley as I did!).Circe is the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans. Her mother, Perse, an Oceanid naiad is beautiful and captivating. Circe is born with a "strange" voice (she sounds like a mortal 0ohhhh the Horror!) and is often ridiculed by her younger siblings. Circe does not appear to have any powers but nevertheless, she is a God and lives in her father's home until she angers Zeus by transforming a nymph into a monster and a man into a creature. She is banished to live alone on an island. It is here, that she hones her true power - that of a witch! She has interactions with many characters, Hermes, the Minotaur (her sister's child), Athena, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, and Odysseus to name a few. She is caught between the world of the Gods and that of mankind.On her island, she learns the land, befriends the animals and assists sailors - turning some into pigs if they cross her or attempt to harm her. Eventually she has a child and is willing to do anything to protect him from the world and those who would do him harm. This book is beautifully written and very engaging. I found myself emerged in Crice's world and savored every page. Fiction and mythology blend beautifully to create a spellbinding book that does not disappoint. I'll admit, I'm not that familiar with mythology. I studied what was required in school and have a basic understanding of who is who but nothing in depth. One does not need to know much about mythology to appreciate and enjoy this book. The Author does a great job informing the reader who is who and what job they carry i.e. messenger of the gods, goddess of war, etc. Miller describes the Gods and characters brilliantly. I never felt like she was educating me on who was who. All the information flowed with the story. As I stated this book was very well written, the story-line is engaging, intelligent and sucked me in. This book is told through Circe's POV and we get an inside glimpse into her thoughts, feelings and emotions. Circe is a very likable character and over the course of time she becomes stronger, not only in her powers, but in herself. Her confidence grows, her judgement improves, she learns some hard lessons and grows as a person/God. She may have been considered a lesser goddess, but she was a strong female character who stood on her own two feet, stood up for herself and showed great bravery where others cowered. Circe is a God, but she is not heartless or cruel. She is strong and thoughtful and very much like a human. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be strong? To be brave? To be a woman living in a man’s world (she kicks ass at this by the way!)?Absolutely enjoyable and entertaining! Highly recommend!Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book!See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
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  • jessica
    January 1, 1970
    in the house of miller, goddess of written word and mightiest of storytellers, a masterpiece was born. again, i am blown away at the beauty that is madeline millers writing. her words have a way of invoking a sense of delicate peace in my heart. i read her stories and it fills that longing for something more. circe was an absolute delight from start to finish, and i cant express the extent of my gratitude for something so breathtakingly compelling to have been created and shared with the world. in the house of miller, goddess of written word and mightiest of storytellers, a masterpiece was born. again, i am blown away at the beauty that is madeline millers writing. her words have a way of invoking a sense of delicate peace in my heart. i read her stories and it fills that longing for something more. circe was an absolute delight from start to finish, and i cant express the extent of my gratitude for something so breathtakingly compelling to have been created and shared with the world. 5 stars
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  • Simona Bartolotta
    January 1, 1970
    I dived into Circe believing to be fully prepared for it, all because I had read and re-read, loved and re-loved The Song Achilles. Now I know that was a foolish notion for me to entertain.“It was my first lesson. Beneath the smooth, familiar face of things is another that waits to tear the world in two.”In fact, I soon learned the hard way that no matter how well you think you know her and her writing, you are never prepared for what Madeline Miller's pen is going to deliver. This because the k I dived into Circe believing to be fully prepared for it, all because I had read and re-read, loved and re-loved The Song Achilles. Now I know that was a foolish notion for me to entertain.“It was my first lesson. Beneath the smooth, familiar face of things is another that waits to tear the world in two.”In fact, I soon learned the hard way that no matter how well you think you know her and her writing, you are never prepared for what Madeline Miller's pen is going to deliver. This because the key word, where her work is concerned, is “different”: therefore, o future readers, come now to terms with the fact that a story Madeline Miller has woven will be different from what you expect, from what you think you know, and also (maybe I should say especially) from the original sources she draws from, and said distance is most likely its very raison d'être. And nothing more than this could make me grateful, because Madeline Miller's mind working on a well-known story never means impoverishment, or theft, or trivialization, nor any other kind of demeaning operation. What she does, and masterfully at that, is enrich, make brighter, give consistency and meaning to what before was bare, dull, plain.“This was how mortals found fame, I thought. Through practise and diligence, tending their skills like gardens until they glowed beneath the sun. But gods are born of ichor and nectar, their excellences already bursting from their fingertips. So they find their fame by proving what they can mar: destroying cities, starting wars, breeding plagues and monsters.”In Circe, as in The Song of Achilles, each and every character is almost eerily well-rounded, even the minor ones, even the ones with the most marginal roles. And Circe is the cherry on top of it all, so much so that any praise I can think of seems like an understatement. Circe is proud but never haughty, and she is true to herself even when she doesn't know who, or what, she is. She evolves and makes her weaknesses evolve with her, but in spite of this she never forgets what being weak, or having a weakness, feels like, which is, I believe, one of her greatest strengths. She is acutely aware of her situation and what it entails, of what is or isn't beyond her reach, but even from her position of non-power she retains an aura of regality. She is suspicious because she has to be, but she has such immense goodness in her heart as to be completely disarming. This last point in my list may sound naive, but I ask you to think of all the books you've read in your life, of all your favourite characters, and ask yourselves Which of them do I love because of their kindness? We do not seek kindness in our heroes. Kindness too often results in self-righteousness, if not from the characters themselves, then from the penman, and I surely don't need to spell out to you how irritating that air of superiority can be. Kindness is not an easy tale to tell, but Madeline Miller did it with her Circe, a character who is most definitely not widely known for such a trait, which only makes this feat all the more admirable. “That is one thing gods and mortals share: when we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.”Circe is troubled by the mismatched pieces of her identity, by the whirl of guilt she gets captured in early on in her life, by the world inside of her that keeps her from fitting in the world outside. Circe floats through the centuries as a creature of both worlds, mortal and divine, and of neither at the same time, which puts her in a unique position. Her standpoint is three times significant: she is, in a sense, both internal and external to her story, she is living and telling at once. She spins her threads at Daedalus's loom and her spells at her worktable (she herself points this out as one of the symmetries poets love so much) but she also is the spinner of a story, hers. The whole novel, I think, is the narrative of Circe's fight for the right to spin her story by herself. She doesn't accept the gods' authority, she doesn't accept her grandfather's court's meanness, and she doesn't accept the submission men demand of her as a nymph and as a woman.“Brides, nymphs were called, but that is not really how the world saw us. We were an endless feast laid out upon a table, beautiful and renewing. And so very bad at getting away.”Needless to say at this point, Circe was everything I had hoped for and more. If The Song of Achilles didn't hold such a special place in my heart, I'd even say Circe outshines it, with its spotless writing, its majestic protagonist, its charm and beauty and impressive grandness. I will, time permitting, read it again once it hits the shelves, ready to be awed over and over again.*All the quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change*
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  • Arah-Lynda
    January 1, 1970
    Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Rudyard KiplingWhen I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and cousins. Least of the lesser goddesses, our powers were so modest they could scarcely ensure our eternities. We spoke to fish and nurtured flowers, coaxed drops from the clouds or salt from the waves. That word, nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means no Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Rudyard KiplingWhen I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and cousins. Least of the lesser goddesses, our powers were so modest they could scarcely ensure our eternities. We spoke to fish and nurtured flowers, coaxed drops from the clouds or salt from the waves. That word, nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride. I was first held captive by Madeline Miller’s voice a couple of years ago when I had the good fortune of reading The Song of Achilles. I knew then that I wanted to hear that voice again.As legend has it, Circe, due to her wilful ways, is banished by her father Helios ( Titan god of the sun) and confined by his will to the island of Aiaia. The next morning I stepped into my father’s chariot and we lurched into the dark sky without a word. The air blew past us; night receded at every turning of the wheels. I looked over the side, trying to track the rivers and seas, the shadowed valleys, but we were going too fast, and I recognized nothing.What island is it?My father did not answer, his jaw was set, his lips bled pale with anger. My old burns were aching from standing so close to him. I closed my eyes. The lands streamed by and the wind ran across my skin. I imagined pitching over that golden rail into the open air below. It would feel good, I thought, before I hit.We landed with a jolt, I opened my eyes to see a high, soft hill, thick with grass. My father stared straight ahead. I felt a sudden urge to fall on my knees and beg him to take me back, but instead I forced myself to step down onto the ground. The moment my foot touched, he and his chariot were gone. But Circe did not wilt within her exile, she explored her new island prison, honed her art of witchcraft; employing the islands flora and fauna and fungi to fuel her burgeoning powers. She learned to live alone and in harmony with the islands abundant wildlife. Then one day, while tending her garden, she hears a voice and sees a young man leaning against her house. It is the Olympian god, Hermes, emissary and messenger of the gods.He will not be the last god or mortal to visit these shores. I am not ashamed to admit I was completely swept away by this tale, by Circe’s coming of age, her tales of family feuds and rivaling gods. Circe’s is a tale of love and loss and discovery, of learning the art of restraint, of celebrating life and embracing her inner strength. I found myself rooting for her every step of the way despite her many flaws, like the fact that she transformed Odysseus’s men to pigs.Honestly I have never read anything like this. Madeline Miller not only held me captive but had me thirsting for more knowledge of the Olympian gods and Titans alike, not to mention the mortals, those Greek heroes, and their many monsters like Scylla and Charybdis. I cannot believe she has left me wanting to read The Odyssey. How else will I ever slake this thirst?Oh and yes, Madeline, I most assuredly do want to hear your voice again. Please.My sincere thanks to Pamela Brown and Lee Boudreaux Books, Little Brown and Company for this advanced readers copy. My god I loved it!On sale now. Get out there and get a copy!There are not enough stars.
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  • Ivana A.
    January 1, 1970
    Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist. I was waiting for two whole months to get this book from the library. And I finally had a chance to read Circe from Madeline Miller. A book that everyone was talking about. The only thing you were gonna see on Instagram. Well, here I am – sitting with the cool kids now, I’ve read this book.The reason I wanted to read this book wasn’t because I wanted to be part of the cool kids. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist. I was waiting for two whole months to get this book from the library. And I finally had a chance to read Circe from Madeline Miller. A book that everyone was talking about. The only thing you were gonna see on Instagram. Well, here I am – sitting with the cool kids now, I’ve read this book.The reason I wanted to read this book wasn’t because I wanted to be part of the cool kids. Actually, it was because Greek Mythology has a special place in my heart. See, I was born in Macedonia, a country full of history, and so very close to Greece, where histories and cultures and traditions match and mix.When I was in school, our teachers focused hard on history. Especially Roman and Greek Mythology. So yes, I grew up with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and yes, I know all the gods out there, what they do, who they married, who their children are.I have read about Circe, but I have never given her any meaning, as she is not mentioned a lot in Homer’s works, as you might already know. And then suddenly, there is a book about her life. I had to read it!!! AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART! This might be my favorite book of 2018!I enjoyed Madeline’s writing style. It was so explanatory and calm, and soothing, like swimming in nice calm waters. You would just gulp her words as you read, and before you know it, you have read 200 pages.Circe, oh Circe! Her character was so well described – such a strong powerful woman. We start with her childhood, to her growing up, and we follow the process of how she learned things the hard way, how she is naive, and then suddenly isn’t, how she discovers the power she holds within, despite everyone else mocking her and saying otherwise. We see how she decides to say no, how she is not afraid to be a rebel, and how she suffers, and loves, and protects, and cares, and survives, and lives!You will read a story about the love a mother has toward her child, the love a woman has toward her man, the love a son has towards her mother, the love for freedom, the love for glory…If you love Greek Mythology, you will get the chance to say hi to some of your favourite gods, nymphs, titans, monsters – Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Prometheus, Odysseus and many more which I will fail to reveal.I hardly believe that this is a great book for introducing Greek Mythology to new young readers. I also hardly believe that this book will change the thoughts of many people, the way they see things, the way they live, the way they think.It was one of my favorite things about him: how he always fought for his chance.There are a lot of side characters that give their own meaning to the story as well, and there is also Odysseus, and at times it feels as this is his story, but in the end you realized that this story belongs to Circe only. Do not listen to your enemy, Odysseus had once told me. Look at them. It will tell you everything.I looked. Armed and armored, she was (Athena), from head to foot, helmet, spear, aegis, greaves. A terrifying vision: the goddess of war, ready for battle. But why had she assembled such a panoply against me, who knew nothing of combat? Unless there was something else she feared, something that made her feel somehow stripped and weak.Instinct carried me forward, the thousand hours I had spent in my father’s halls, and with Odysseus polymetis, man of so many wiles. To all of you out there – please take your time to read this book! It will leave you breathless, inspired, motivated and it will change your life forever. It changed my life – that’s for certain!
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  • Lucy Langford
    January 1, 1970
    "A golden cage is still a cage." Just reread this before having to surrender it back to the library!! 5* Circe was brilliant! Daughter of Helios (God of the sun), is Circe. She is often scorned and rejected by her kin for not having the look nor the voice of her siblings and other nymphs. To look for companionship she turns to mortals and through this she discovers her power: Witchcraft. When she casts a dark spell and admits to her power, she is banished by Zeus and is exiled to the island of A "A golden cage is still a cage." Just reread this before having to surrender it back to the library!! 5* Circe was brilliant! Daughter of Helios (God of the sun), is Circe. She is often scorned and rejected by her kin for not having the look nor the voice of her siblings and other nymphs. To look for companionship she turns to mortals and through this she discovers her power: Witchcraft. When she casts a dark spell and admits to her power, she is banished by Zeus and is exiled to the island of Aiaia. There she learns to hone her skill in witchcraft. Along the years of her exile she encounters Gods, monsters and other mortals. All of those we have come to learn about through Greek mythology. Her fate entwines with Hermes, Icarus, Daedalus, Medea, the birth of the Minotaur and many more. We watch as she lives a life of isolation, has lovers and watch as her actions are driven by her emotions and love for others.Circe was such a wonderful character. She is utterly human in her emotions showing regret, selfishness, love, determination, vengeance and humility. This makes her a sharp contrast to the other gods and goddesses and nymphs who exude selfishness. She also pours out determination, braveness and courage, encountering dark creatures and gods in order to protect her family. I loved this retelling of Circe from her point of view. Madeline Miller has created a voice for a character that is briefly mentioned in the Odyssey (by Homer) and other texts, which are mainly told from a male point of view. Miller has explored the character of Circe and has given a powerful narrative- which is so refreshing! It is interesting to see how this character perceives those she encounters. For example, Odysseus and Athena were so different from other perspectives of texts that I have read before.Just give me all the Greek mythology 😍💙 this book was beautiful and so refreshing! Circe is definitely a character that will stick with me for a while!
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  • ❄️Nani❄️
    January 1, 1970
    4.5⭐This book is glorious. Absolutely magnificent. 4.5⭐️This book is glorious. Absolutely magnificent.
  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. An epic retelling of the life and times of the minor Greek goddess Circe, she who is famed for turning Odysseus’s men and other hapless sailors into swine (as it turns out, she had good reasons). Circe is despised and bullied by stronger members of her family, and eventually - and rather unfairly - exiled to the island of Aiaia for dabbling in pharmaka, a forbidden type of magic using herbs and other plants. Apparently it's fine with the gods if you can do magic by a wave of your hand 4.5 stars. An epic retelling of the life and times of the minor Greek goddess Circe, she who is famed for turning Odysseus’s men and other hapless sailors into swine (as it turns out, she had good reasons). Circe is despised and bullied by stronger members of her family, and eventually - and rather unfairly - exiled to the island of Aiaia for dabbling in pharmaka, a forbidden type of magic using herbs and other plants. Apparently it's fine with the gods if you can do magic by a wave of your hand or an act of will alone, but not if you need a potion to accomplish your purpose. On Aiaia, Circe determinedly works on further developing her pharmaka skills, along with strength of character and will.Spanning hundreds of years - Circe being immortal and all - it's an epic, somewhat episodic story. Madeline Miller’s lyrical, insightful writing keeps the story going strong when it might otherwise have dragged for me. The last part was my favorite, as various narrative threads tied together and you get some deeper understanding into some wonderfully complex characters. Odysseus, Penelope and their son Telemachus are unforgettable characters, along with Circe herself.Full review to come ... but it was worth paying the overdue fines for this read! ;)Initial comments: Putting everything else on hold while I whip through this overdue library book! :D :D
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    “Whoo hoo witchy woman she got the moon in her eye” - Don HenleyAs a child I was enchanted by D’Aularies’ Book of Greek Myths and later by Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I enjoyed Miller’s Song of Achilles and was eager to read Circe. Monsters, gods and goddesses, nymphs and naiads all make appearances and once again I was enchanted. Having read The Odyssey and The Iliad will increase your enjoyment but it isn’t necessary and you may be inspired to read these classic works.Minor goddess, daughter o “Whoo hoo witchy woman she got the moon in her eye” - Don HenleyAs a child I was enchanted by D’Aularies’ Book of Greek Myths and later by Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I enjoyed Miller’s Song of Achilles and was eager to read Circe. Monsters, gods and goddesses, nymphs and naiads all make appearances and once again I was enchanted. Having read The Odyssey and The Iliad will increase your enjoyment but it isn’t necessary and you may be inspired to read these classic works.Minor goddess, daughter of Helios, lover of Hermes and Odysseus, Circe is despised by her family for her dullness, mortal voice and powerlessness. Eventually exiled and alone, Circe finds that her power is less divine and of a more natural sort. Herbs, spells and draughts are her dominion and with it come the power of transformation. She has the noble ability to ease pain, injury and sickness as well as the questionable ability to turn men into swine although on the odd occasion, I do understand the urge. Circe defies the gods and challenges ancient supremacy. This is a modern feminist telling of Circe’s life over the centuries and the most significant transformation is her own.
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  • JanB
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars, rounded upBeautifully written, exciting, and totally captivating! “Epic has been so traditionally male,” Miller says. “All these stories are composed by men, largely starring men, and I really wanted a female perspective.”And what a story it is. My first buddy read with my friend Dana was a great success and we had wonderful discussions. The plot revolves around Circe in this book and the story is told entirely from her perspective. Born without the beauty and charm of her mother, nor 4.5 stars, rounded upBeautifully written, exciting, and totally captivating! “Epic has been so traditionally male,” Miller says. “All these stories are composed by men, largely starring men, and I really wanted a female perspective.”And what a story it is. My first buddy read with my friend Dana was a great success and we had wonderful discussions. The plot revolves around Circe in this book and the story is told entirely from her perspective. Born without the beauty and charm of her mother, nor the power of her father, she is reviled and looked down upon, and eventually is exiled to an island to live a solitary life. What seems to be a horrible fate ends up being the exact thing that creates the environment for her to flourish and gain skills.  It is during this time that she discovers her aptitude for pharmakeia, the art of using plants and herbs. Over the centuries, familiar gods make their appearance on the island but, in this case, they are given minor parts. Most of the gods are rather nasty but Circe is a complex character caught between the world of mortals and gods. She finds her own way, and charts her own course. The chapters on motherhood were particularly thoughtful and relatable. Circe is strong and vengeful when necessary, yet also compassionate. She's whip smart and resourceful and was able to outsmart adversaries more than once. And that ending...it was unexpected and perfect! This is a book to make good use of a highlighter and/or book darts. A favorite quote, among many: “It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”I love that the author has such a passion for Greek mythology and decided it was high time the women had a voice. You do not need to be a student or fan of Greek mythology to enjoy this book. I often took advantage of the character reference in the back of the book. Highly recommended!
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  • Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net
    January 1, 1970
    See this review and more like it on www.bookbastion.net_______Madeline Miller really channeled her inner Goddess for this, because this book was a dazzling work of magic. I was utterly charmed by The Song of Achilles when I read it last year, so when Little, Brown and Company sent me an ARC of this book I was jumping for joy. It's no secret that I'm a fan of Greek mythology, so I know that factors into my enjoyment of these novels, but the true credit has to be paid to Madeline Miller's skill as See this review and more like it on www.bookbastion.net_______Madeline Miller really channeled her inner Goddess for this, because this book was a dazzling work of magic. I was utterly charmed by The Song of Achilles when I read it last year, so when Little, Brown and Company sent me an ARC of this book I was jumping for joy. It's no secret that I'm a fan of Greek mythology, so I know that factors into my enjoyment of these novels, but the true credit has to be paid to Madeline Miller's skill as a writer, her natural abilities as a storyteller, and the respect she pays to the source material she works with.Circe is a beautiful re-framing of those original classic stories within a feminist narrative of a woman claiming agency within two worlds that cannot possibly appreciate her place in them. It's a great play on the Greek mythology, which often portrayed women as lesser players to the men around them, and even more frequently cast them as manipulators; deceivers that caused the downfall of men. Miller takes the character of Circe and drags her out of the shadows of the patriarchy that surrounds her and places her squarely in the spotlight, offering a lesser considered perspective of the notorious witch of Aiaia.Watching Circe carve out her agency as a woman in two worlds - those of Gods and mortals - is extremely empowering to witness. The outcast child of Godblood and a source of infamy to mortal men, Circe spends the story bathed in the knowledge that she is anathema to both societies that she walks within. She has been slighted: the victim of inequities and unfair judgement and persecution of her character. Her narrative is unflinching and open, honest in its portrayal of a woman seeking the power to ensure her place in this world of Gods and monsters never opens her up to harm again. It would be easy given the subject matter at times for this story to slip into total despair. It is Miller's dedication to Circe's strengths that buoys her character and by association, the story itself up. Circe works to establish a safe position of power within her world as much as she does lament the unfairness of her situation. She is strong as stone and it is her belief in herself, to protect herself and that which she values from compromise that makes this such a compelling read. Circe is one of my favorite heroines I've ever read in my entire career as a blogger. The mythology is on point here. There are familiar characters from Song of Achilles - though you do not need to read that book to understand their place in this novel - along with a whole host of new characters that are sure to please any fans of Greek mythology with even a cursory knowledge of the old stories. Miller uses the entire pantheon of Gods and fantastic creatures to her advantage, crafting a story that is vivid and rich. The prose itself is another highlight here. Blessed by immortality, this is a story that spans centuries. Hundreds of generations are born and fall away like dust in a spear of light around Circe, and she moves through the years as one passes through a threshold from the safety of house and home to the greater world outside the door. Miller's prose is dreamlike and shifts forward in leaps and bounds that never disorient, but rather highlights the lack of permanence that surrounds Circe, and further lends to her narrative of a woman uniquely placed to watch the workings of the world.I've been blogging for over a year now, and I can safely say that not only was this the best book I've read so far thus year, this was one of the best books I've read in my entire career as a blogger. This is a new favorite for me, and will always hold a special place in my heart, and on my shelf, for years to come.5 out of 5 stars!follow me on instagram @bookbastion Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for sending me a physical ARC of this book!
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  • Helene Jeppesen
    January 1, 1970
    This book was really really good for several reasons.First of all, it reminded me of being a high school student and learning about Greek mythology. It’s not that I’d forgotten about it, but this book reminded me of the amazing tales of Odysseus, Medea, Zeus, and Helios to name a few. In that way, it was a refreshing reading experience filled with nostalgia. Second of all, I think this book is just a great retelling of Greek mythology (without being any kind of an expert). The story-telling was This book was really really good for several reasons.First of all, it reminded me of being a high school student and learning about Greek mythology. It’s not that I’d forgotten about it, but this book reminded me of the amazing tales of Odysseus, Medea, Zeus, and Helios to name a few. In that way, it was a refreshing reading experience filled with nostalgia. Second of all, I think this book is just a great retelling of Greek mythology (without being any kind of an expert). The story-telling was thorough and the pacing was good, and in my opinion everything about “Circe” worked really well, and I was hooked from beginning till end. Third of all, Madeline Miller spins this tale so that it speaks of universal truths that we ‘mortals’ can relate to: Truths such as regret, loneliness, anger, an many more. I loved that because that’s what, in the end, makes this a well-crafted retelling that works in our contemporary reading world. I’m going to stop my review here because I’m busy - I need to immediately go buy Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles”!
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  • Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars "It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.” Writing this review is hard, because while I didn't love this... I definitely didn't hate it? It just wasn't for me. (also why it took me forever to read... and even longer to review) Not every book is for everyone, and I can definitely see why so many of my friends loved this.Once again, Miller's writing is abs 3.5 Stars "It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.” Writing this review is hard, because while I didn't love this... I definitely didn't hate it? It just wasn't for me. (also why it took me forever to read... and even longer to review) Not every book is for everyone, and I can definitely see why so many of my friends loved this.Once again, Miller's writing is absolute magic. Every scene was filled with prose and description so delicious I just wanted to take a bite.There's also a strong feminist undertone as Circe's views on femininity, strength and motherhood evolve. While I loved this, I still never connected with the character? I enjoyed the thoughts she was projecting, but how she arrived there wasn't always so clear? I think the main reason I struggled is this feels firmly grounded in mythology. This meant the plot was less linear and more of a somewhat-linked chain of different events. For someone more familiar with the settings, myths or even the gods, I can see how this would all be really enjoyable! Overall:It's not my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean it's a bad cup of tea. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thanks to Little, Brown for the opportunity!
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