In McCaughrean's retelling of the story of Theseus, she only differs in one or two points from the version as told through Ovid and Plutarch, but greaIn McCaughrean's retelling of the story of Theseus, she only differs in one or two points from the version as told through Ovid and Plutarch, but greatly embellishes his story to account for the miseries and unjust actions which he brings upon himself and his people.
The King Aegeus of Athens desperately wants a son and seeks the advice of Medea, a reknown soceress, as to the best way to obtain his desire. She prophesizes that the next woman he holds in his arms will carry his child. Eager to embrace his wife, Aegeus sets off home. Along the way, he stops to visit his friend King Pittheus. Accidently, Pittheus' daughter, Aethra, slips and falls into his arms. Aegeus, having remembered Medea's prophesy, leaves his sandals and sword under a rock, informing Aethra that if she should bear a son, when old and strong enough, the son will be able to reclaim the items under the rock. Meanwhile, Medea, having intentionally spoken the prophesy in order to seduce Aegeus herself, now is forced to reconsider her plan. Instead, she travels to Athens and disposes of Aegeus' wife. After a time, Aegeus marries Medea and bears another son, though this son is weak, whiny and no where near the type of man needed to rule Athens. Medea, however, does not know that Aegeus left his sandals and sword with Aethra, and thus is unaware that one day the Kings first son will come to claim his birthright.
Aethra names her son Theseus and he grows to be quite the vivacious boy. Hercules makes an appearance as a cousin (I think) and is equally impressed by Theseus' strength. Eventually, Theseus comes of age and when his village is attacked by a creature who likes to strike blows with his oversized club, Aethra tells Theseus that he can find a weapon under the rock. He retrieves the sword, kills the creature and becomes a hero. Aethra then tells Theseus of his father and he immediately sets out for Athens. Along the way, Theseus encounters several bandits and kills them in very graphic and bloody ways (i.e. lots of decapitation). Theseus makes his way to Athens and Medea, upon learning of his arrival, sets out to, unsuccessfully, assassinate him. Needless to say, Theseus convinces Aegeus of his identity and is welcome with open arms. Medea is found out to be the wicked witch and her and her devious son are banished.
At this point in the story, Theseus' real adventures begin. His pride, his arrogance, his selfish disdain for the feelings of others (yes, an Austin reference), highlights the many miseries he brings upon his father and himself. He kills Posideon's favorite creature, bringing his wrath upon Athens. He travels to Crete to kill the Minotaur, befriends Cerete's Princess Ariadne, and then leaves her stranded on an island during their escape back to Athens. Needless to say, she becomes an embittered enemy bent on revenge. Theseus marries Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazonian Women, only to betray her trust and loyality. And on, and on...Theseus, though a hero through might of arms, never learns how to be a true hero through respect and humility towards others.
A wonderful classic, beautiful in its retelling and as gripping as any Greek drama. Highly recommended read....more
Another great chapter in the Josh-and-Sophie-saving-the-world-saga. Believed by Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel as being the twins of destiny, one posseAnother great chapter in the Josh-and-Sophie-saving-the-world-saga. Believed by Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel as being the twins of destiny, one possessing a silver and the other a gold aura, Josh and Sophie are recruited and trained to fight "the elders" from overtaking the world and killing/enslaving humanity. Of course, their path is never easy. The Flamels, kept immortal by a spell held within "The Codex", are slowly dying because the key pages they need to perform the spell are missing. Dr. John Dee, after his disastrous failures in capturing the twins and the Flamels, has been disowned by the elders and sentenced to capture himself. Angered by the declaration after his centuries of service to the elders, Dr. John Dee decides to play the game his way. After teaming up with Ms. Virginia Dare, he concots a scheme that attempts to not only overthrow the elders, but give himself control over humanity. Machiavelli and Billy the Kid return to Alcatraz in order to begin the demonic invasion of San Francisco. Joan of Arc and Scathach remain in a shadowrealm that resembles the past, but end up meeting the most unlikely ally. And, Josh, having been finally trained in fire magic by Prometheus, is unwittingly steered towards the fate all feared at the onset of this story. The ending, as in the previous books, is a great cliffhanger. This series is a definite must-read for young fans of history and mythology. The way Michael Scott weaves his multitudes of characters, storylines and settings into an elaborate tapestry is genuis. ...more
As an appreciator of Norse/Icelandic mythology and history I had my eye on this story for quite a long time. Wasn't sure whether I should read it befoAs an appreciator of Norse/Icelandic mythology and history I had my eye on this story for quite a long time. Wasn't sure whether I should read it before or after Snori's "Prose Edda". After reading Penguin's introduction to the tale, I decided the reader would not be at a disadvantage reading the Volsung's story prior to "Prose Edda". And it certainly did not dissappoint! A fabulous story about the history of Volsung's descendants from Sigmund through Hamdir and Sorli. Battles, adventure, betrayals, dragon slaying, romance and heartbreak. The saga is every bit as dramatic as a television soap opera but in a more compact story....more
Epic adventure highlighting the importance of wisdom obtained by the journey itself, not the attainment of the journey's goal. Having been a brutal tyEpic adventure highlighting the importance of wisdom obtained by the journey itself, not the attainment of the journey's goal. Having been a brutal tyrant to his people, the Gods seek to tame King Gilgamesh by the introduction of his opposite. After a testosterone fueled introduction, they quickly become best friends and inseparable. Unfortunately, they anger the Gods and his best friend, Enkidu, is condemned to die. After Enkidu death Gilgamesh is fueled by grief and embarks on a journey to seek immortality. He learns that immortality is not the key to overcoming saddness but appreciating that which you already have is the key to happiness. A wonderful and rather short poem that pre-dates "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey". The best part of this book is not necessarily in the poem, but in the 80 pages of notes supplementing the text. Excellent historical and mythological information help to enrich the experience of reading Gilgamesh's adventure....more