Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller
I have wanted to read this novel for a really long time. I am a fan of Greek Mythology and what better way to enjoy it but in novel form!!! A bit of Greek mythology background before we get into the review. Circe is a goddess, daughter of Helios – God of the Sun and a titan. Circe was known to be a sorceress and master of potions. Moving forward we go to the book review, I LOVED it! It was such a great read I couldn’t put it down. Seeing all the other greek stories intertwined with this one made for a page turner. Madeline Miller also wrote also wrote The Song of Achilles which is on my TBR! For those of you that have read Circe what were your thoughts/feelings?
Right off the bat we see that Circe is not like her vivacious mother or any of her siblings. She thinks her father is the light of everyone’s life and desperately wanted his attention. Throughout the beginning of her story we see her brothers and sisters leave their island leaving Crice all alone. The reader learns that if you are a God or Goddess you have a glow about your being, however Circe does not have this thus isolating her more. Her parents describe her as bird like and ugly.
Circe is on the beach one day and meets the mortal Glaucus. She became infatuated with him but the realization that he would die hit her hard. Throughout this love affair we learn that Helios and the other Titans feel belittled by the Olympians. They want to rise up against them and devise a plan to get close marrying Helios’s daughter to one of the sons of Zeus.
Circe went to ask her grandmother to help with this problem, asking her about the herbs that Zeus knew about that have magical properties. This made her grandmother afraid- what would be able to make a titan afraid? She goes on the hunt for these herbs which the blood of God’s grew after a battle. Crice finds them and is able to use these to make Glaucus a God.
This backfires and he chases after another nymph. To get back at the nymph Circe turns her into an evil sea creature – not meaning to she just wanted to make her ugly. The Oymlpians get word of Circe powers and find this punishable. Zeus banishes Circe to an isolated island and he sends unruly daughters to the island for Circe to look after.
Not all was lost to Circe though. On this island she came into herself and harnessed/ developed her powers. She was able to be herself with no fear of repercussions. She was able to summon creates and create illusions.
Down the storyline her sister sent for her from Crete to help deliver her baby. Circe’s journey there was full of hardships, particularly when Circe meets the sea monster whom she was responsible for turning turning. When Circe arrives at Crete she learns that her sister’s baby is a Minatar hungry for flesh. Her and Daedalus built a maze under the city to cage the creature. This Minatar was used as intimidation to other cities. We get to see a nice crossover as Daedalus the famous and his son Icarus is an unfortunate story. Daedlaus built his wings out of wax so he could fly but Lcarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax and plummeting to his death- a short version.
In the next part of Circe’s story men come to her island and try to take it from her. She kills all 20 men using her magic. She is a strong independent Goddess! Enter Odysseus and as prophesied she took a potion colly Moly so when Circe went to harm the other men he was not harmed. They were able to strike a friendship in a way and became lovers. Circe was fascinated with Odysseus and his stories of one disaster he witnessed after another. He stayed on the island for a year hoping to find peace but alas it was not his fate. He must travel back home and cross the island where Helios keeps his forbidden cows.
After he leaves we find that that Circe is pregnant with his son Telegonus! He was born a difficult child always screaming. She was not lonely again. We learn that Athena sought to harm Telegonus but she could not kill the baby outright so she sent many toils his way. Circe protected her island with the spells she taught herself!
Telegonus grew restless on this island and seeks to leave. He would rather live one day and die by Athena’s wrath than live a life lonely on the island. She goes and asks the old sea god for poison from his stingray to save her son- she self sacrifices and gets it. She put the venom on a blade and Telegonus was to use it against any God he may encounter. He travels to see his father but his father taught him a thief and runs into this blade- killing him. Athena’s prophecy of Telegonus is true, he kills her greatest love Odysseus.
Odysseus’s wife and son come to the island with Telegonus. Circe could not figure out why they would want to come to this island and stay with her but she learns that Athena will come for her son. Penelopy hoped she could keep her son Telemachus safe on Circe’s protected island with the beasts she commands to protect them.
Athena breaks through and does come her Telemachus but it is Telegonus that goes with her to become a great hero. He gets what he wants but breaks Circe’s heart in the process. Circe ends up with Telemachus on the island and she becomes mortal in the end to stay with him, but taking the same flowers she made Glaucus immortal.
So what do you think? I left out quite a lot of details as Miller’s book was packed full to the spine with details. I found this such a great read and loved the crossover stories. Was this a great book for those who love Greek Mythology. If not I would love to hear your reasons. I am hoping this may be turned into a movie? Please feel free to leave any comments below! Would you pick up another book by Miller?