Posts in category 'books'

  • Review: Circe

    Review of Circe by Madeline Miller (9780316556347)★★★★

    I noticed I haven’t written a long-form post in quite a while so I figured I’d get back into it with a review of Circe.

    Cover for Circe by Madeline Miller

    In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--neither 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 with the mortals she has come to love.

    I have to admit it’s been a while since I read Circe, so this review is probably gonna be a) a bit short, and b) based on fuzzy recollections. But, I’ll do my best with what I can recall.

    If you’ve not heard of the book, Circe is a mythological retelling, and I have to admit, I really wish I was more familiar with my Greek mythology because, even based on the limited knowledge I do have, Madeline Miller’s work in adapting this tale is really pretty astonishing. Through beautiful prose and incredible characterization she manages to find the humanity in this ancient and epic story.

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  • Review: The Lord of the Rings

    Review of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (9780547951942)★★★★★

    25 years after I last read The Lord of the Rings the pandemic has given me a renewed appreciation for the book.

    Cover for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

    In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

    From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

    When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

    The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

    There really is something truly unique about “The Lord of the Rings” (hereafter to be abbreviated “LOTR” because I’m way too lazy to type that out over and over). It’s well recognized that without J. R. R. Tolkien we might not have Brandon Sanderson or Robert Jordon or George R. R. Martin. But, at least in my own experience, even within the annals of high fantasy, Tolkien’s work is something special.

    It had been at least 25 years since I’d last read the book. But I’d just come off of re-reading the Stormlight Archives and was waiting for the ninth Expanse book to come out, so it seemed like as good a time as any to return to Middle Earth to see how it held up.

    And I’ll be damned if it isn’t still one of my absolute favourite books.

    I have to wonder, though, if I would’ve felt quite the same way had I not read the book at this particular time in my life. Like the people of Hobbiton, we find ourselves facing a vague threat that permeates our lives and has profoundly changed the world in ways we can barely understand. It’s dizzying! And, like the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth, while I know that eventually this threat will diminish, the world will never return to the way it was. And maybe that’s okay.

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