Patroclus is exiled from his home as a young prince in punishment for killing another boy. He is weak and awkward but somehow befriends the son of Kin...morePatroclus is exiled from his home as a young prince in punishment for killing another boy. He is weak and awkward but somehow befriends the son of King Peleus, Achilles. When Achilles chooses Patroclus as his companion, their friendship grows into something more, yet the sea-nymph Thetis, mother of the future hero, disapproves. She does not want shame brought upon her son, yet she does not want the prophecy hanging over him to come true. The Song of Achilles, follows the two boys throw their childhood, their training with Chiron, the days before the Trojan War and into battle.
I’m so glad fellow bloggers have praised this book otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it up. Whilst I love Greek mythology, I’ve always found Iliad related stories quite hard going, yet The Song of Achilles is surprisingly tender. Maybe it helps that I’ve now come to remember many of the sprawling cast of characters but Madeline Miller’s writing is an accessible way to learn the story. She manages to put incredibly human motives behind the events of the Iliad,that had previously seemed a bit bewildering.
Yet knowing what ultimately happens, doesn’t take anything away from Patroclus’ personal telling. It is a much more intimate look at Achilles than any other writer has attempted. Yes, he may turn into a great warrior, but underneath is still the boy that fell in love with Patroclus. It’s one of the most expected yet touching love stories I’ve ever read.
Mae is a praetorian, an elite soldier in service of the RUNA. Attending the funeral of a close friend, she is provoked into attacking another praetori...moreMae is a praetorian, an elite soldier in service of the RUNA. Attending the funeral of a close friend, she is provoked into attacking another praetorian resulting in punishment. She must travel to Panama to deliver a message. Exiled for reasons he won’t reveal; ex-servitor Justin spends his time gambling, drinking and picking up women at Cristobel’s parties in Panama. Previously tasked with auditing religion, he now has the voices of two ravens in his head; Horatio and Magnus. Is it possible that the supernatural, something servitors stand against, is real?
I came to this book not having any expectations. I haven’t read any of Richelle Mead’s other books and I had the assumption that it was YA. It’s not YA. In fact the story starts rolling with a one-night-stand. I ended up absolutely loving this tale which combines mythology with a science fiction setting. He world-building is excellent for starters and I ended up so involved in Justin and Mae’s lives and pasts.
The RUNA (Republic of United North America), dependant on your viewpoint, is a utopian society rather than an oppressive dystopia. Organised religion has caused so many wars and crimes, so it makes perfect sense to regulate it, allowing small groups to form and worship but disbanding any religions which gain power and influence. The RUNA is a country without belief in the supernatural, instead creating the Church of Humanity to replace the structure previously provided by religions. But really, citizens don’t think much about religion of any kind and get on with their lives in relative peace.
But we are not left wondering why there was a radical change in the world. The Decline followed Cain; a virus which attacked at the genetic level. One way to defeat the virus was widespread dilution of genes. The majority were forced to breed across race creating plebians. Those with money or power, were allowed to keep their genetic heritage in exchange for assisting with the solution. However, outside these two great nations, religion still continues to exist and the borders are under strict control.
I loved how aspects of the story were driven by drunken revelations. That’s something that seems so true to life; oversharing when drunk. It’s also refreshing to see a gay couple in a story without their presence being there to explore issues on sexuality. They’re gay and they’re married and they’re just two other people in the world.
The title gives a clue to one of the themes of the books. In Greek mythology, the world was often seen as the gods’ game board, moving their favourite humans around as if a game of chess. I love the idea that perhaps in a world that has quashed all modern day religions, that perhaps the gods of old can rise from the ashes. Do gods need to be believed in in order to exist? Justin prides himself on his ability to read people and solve problems quickly, yet he doesn’t work out the significance of the ravens. And at the moment of realisation, I too went, why didn’t I make that connection?
Tessa’s presence seems to be solely for the purpose of an outsider’s viewpoint on the RUNA. I’m not sure she’s entirely necessary to the plot but she didn’t halt the pace or get in the way too much. Perhaps she will have a bigger role in future books. One thing that was a slight annoyance was the oversharing of Justin’s “I’m going to pretend I’m a jerk” strategy. It’s third person narrative from both perspectives and I think it could have been a bit more subtle…but there was so much I loved about this world that I didn’t care in the end. I was very sad not to be able to jump straight into book two.(less)
I started reading this and got a bit concerned as I'm not familiar with Ovid's Methamorphoses however it is only one story, which is explained in the...moreI started reading this and got a bit concerned as I'm not familiar with Ovid's Methamorphoses however it is only one story, which is explained in the book> I realised I did know the myth of Iphis and Ianthe after all. There's certainly a style to the writing in this book and it was enjoyable to read even if the plot was a bit airy. It did highlight the prejudices against homosexuality and how even people who think they can accept still feel uncomfortable with it (displayed in Anthea's sister's chapter).(less)
Another fun adventure with some more unusual mythological creatures. I thought he'd made Bessie up, but no, the creature appears in one of Ovid's poem...moreAnother fun adventure with some more unusual mythological creatures. I thought he'd made Bessie up, but no, the creature appears in one of Ovid's poems.(less)
Like most of the books in The Myths series, this is a slim volume, more of a novella. For me Eldorado is the City of Gold but Milton Hatoum has writte...moreLike most of the books in The Myths series, this is a slim volume, more of a novella. For me Eldorado is the City of Gold but Milton Hatoum has written about the Amazonian legends of the enchanted city at the bottom of the great river which he suspects is the origin of the European myth.
This is essentially a riches to rags story, Brazilian style. Translated from Portuguese into English, it is lacking in quotation marks for direct speech. This makes it difficult to follow who is speaking or even if someone is speaking. This seems the norm for such transaltions but I wish the translators would use relevant punctuation for the target audience.
I would probably give this 4 stars with quotation marks, but struggling with the text does take away some of the pleasure.(less)
I didn't actually finish this book. It started off enjoyable enough but found it becoming quite immature. Fantasy for girls I think (even though the b...moreI didn't actually finish this book. It started off enjoyable enough but found it becoming quite immature. Fantasy for girls I think (even though the book isn't recommended for young readers - maybe teens would be best).(less)
If you're interested in Greek mythology, I'm sure you'll find this an amusing read. I especially liked Medusa's current ocupation though I enjoyed gue...moreIf you're interested in Greek mythology, I'm sure you'll find this an amusing read. I especially liked Medusa's current ocupation though I enjoyed guessing the mythological creature/god throughout. Top notch children's fiction.(less)
I just love the humour in these books and how they make Greek mythology so accessible. I even learned about some mythological creatures I hadn't heard...moreI just love the humour in these books and how they make Greek mythology so accessible. I even learned about some mythological creatures I hadn't heard of before. Makes me want to go watch Jason and the Argonauts again!(less)
I think this might be my favourite of the series. I loved the labyrinth and I think this has more classical content, with Percy's dreams about Daedalu...moreI think this might be my favourite of the series. I loved the labyrinth and I think this has more classical content, with Percy's dreams about Daedalus being pretty true to the myth.(less)
Like others have said, this final book doesn't bring anything new but it is a wrapping up of bits from the first 4 books. So often series leave things...moreLike others have said, this final book doesn't bring anything new but it is a wrapping up of bits from the first 4 books. So often series leave things hanging or unexplained so I think it's a satisfying enough end. I'm glad there will be other books in the same world.(less)
Based on the Chinese myth of Meng Jiangnu who brought down the Great Wall with her tears of mourning, this instalment of the Canongate Myths series ha...moreBased on the Chinese myth of Meng Jiangnu who brought down the Great Wall with her tears of mourning, this instalment of the Canongate Myths series has ended up a surreal fairytale against a backdrop of a country in despair.
Binu comes from a village where crying from your eyes is forbidden as doing so will mean your death is imminent. The women of the village get round this by shedding their tears via various body parts. When her husband is taken away to work on the Great Wall, Binu is grief-stricken and sets out across China to take him his winter clothes. I'm not familiar with much Chinese myth or superstition but I did enjoy all the unusual beliefs that Binu encounters.
Whilst only a short novel, it does remind me of the sort of journey based tales that began with Gulliver's Travels and has become a favourite within the fantasy genre. It even remind me a little of Neil Gaiman's Stardust in a way. Binu is travelling across a land unknown to her and she meets strange people on the way and gets herself in and out of all sorts of scrapes.
I was disappointed by the low average rating here, though obviously not enough to put off reading it. Expectations have a big part to play in enjoyment of a book. If you are looking for historical fiction then pass it by but if you enjoy Grimm's Fairy Tales and stories where the character goes on a weird and wonderful journey, definitely give Binu a go.(less)
Ragnarök is the latest edition to Canongate's excellent Myths series, all standalone novels by a variety of the world's finest writers. Written by A.S...moreRagnarök is the latest edition to Canongate's excellent Myths series, all standalone novels by a variety of the world's finest writers. Written by A.S. Byatt of The Children's Book fame, it tells the Nordic story of the Judgement of the Gods or the end of the world.
Told through the eyes of a girl in wartime Britain, known only as the thin child, Ragnarök is a good introduction to Nordic myths. The thin child finds a book entitled Asgard and the Gods in the house she is evacuated to and she shares those myths with the reader. With her father fighting in the war, the thin girl is going through her very own Ragnarök, knowing that the end of her world must surely be coming.
The novel is not really about the thin girl though, it is more a collection of myths that lead up to Ragnarök. From the creation story of Yggdrasil, a great tree whose ecosystem was the world, to the tale of the great serpent Jörmungandr, who encircled the world. Like the thin child, Loki has always been my favourite player in the Nordic myths and this mischevious demi-god plays a big part in most of them.
Reading this, you will get the feeling of familiarity, even if you don't know the myths themselves. It really does emphasis that myths are borrowed and adapted throughout cultures. The Nordic Hel will have shaped the Christianity's Hell of eternal torment much more then the Greek underworld would have, where the Elysian fields were the reward of heroes.
The author's thoughts on myths are also included and are well worth a read. My copy had place markers for the illustrations so I can't comment on those but am excited the see how it is illustrated. The bibliography is full of interesting titles if you wish to read more.(less)