Madeline Miller – Circe


Circe is one book I have been anticipating for a long time. I had adored Miller’s debut novel, The Song of Achilles AND since I’m a fan of Greek Mythology, I had high expectations for this long overdue follow up.

I first heard of Circe through an episode of Ducktales , where the famed witch turns people into pigs. A couple of years later when I seriously got into Greek Mythology, I learnt about her role in helping Odysseus, Daedalus and her banishment. However I did learn about how Circe managed to conjure the magic spear that her son Telegonus used when he went to Ithaca.

Since Circe has appeared with quite a few famous Mythological Gods, Titans and Monsters, Miller covers a lot of ground. In fact Circe is perfect for someone who is just learning about mythology as all the major myths are told, from Cronus’ attempt to destroy the Olympian lineage to the aftermath of the Trojan war. Miller writes about mythology effortlessly and makes it fun.

But for someone who has heard and read these stories many times, does Circe offer anything new?

The answer is yes – Miller cleverly places Circe as the narrator of her own stories. Whereas most writes portray Circe as a cunning witch, Miller makes her out to be a person who is misunderstood by the male dominated titan and Olympian races.  Throughout the story she is a pawn, a victim and a troublemaker. As the book progresses she becomes a strong, no nonsense figure who stands up to the arrogant Gods and make them realise what windbags they are. By the end of the book the becomes a tender warrior.

There’s a lot to admire about Circe (the book) but it’s not entirely perfect. There are parts that drag a bit and the relationship with Telemachus is a melodramatic but with a novel of this scope it would be a bit difficult to be totally consistent but on the whole Circe is a fine novel and a good follow up to The Song of Achilles.