Book Review : Circe by Madeline Miller

About the Book:

Circe

From the Orange Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author of The Song of Achilles comes the powerful story of the mythological witch Circe, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey

Chosen as must-read book of 2018 by the Guardian, Independent, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Express and Stylist


In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Breathing life into the ancient world, Madeline Miller weaves an intoxicating tale of gods and heroes, magic and monsters, survival and transformation.

My Thoughts:

This is one of the most talked about books at the moment, trending on every social media site possible. I found out about this book on Instagram and decided to give it a shot. I must say that I was not disappointed.

Circe by Madeline Miller gives us a peek into the lives of the Titans and Olympians as well as that of man. A beautifully written book, the story is told from Circe’s point of view, following her life from birth. In the beginning, the story focuses on the life of the Titans, the pact they have with the Olympians and Circe’s yearning to be accepted and understood. She seems to always be apart from the rest of the household, an enigma.

As time passes, she starts to discover a latent power, sleeping somewhere within her, the power of witchcraft and magic. She discovers that though she is different from her family, she has her own set of strengths. this is a story of self-discovery and along the way we meet a lot of people who help shape how Circe sees herself.

The story is masterfully crafted, introducing us to a number of familiar names at each stage, thus making this story even more enjoyable. It is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time forcing us to experience the journey with Circe. We are not just reading about her, there are many times when the descriptions are so well done that the reader becomes a part of the story, another character. We meet a whole array of people, most of whom you would have heard before, but who are shown through Circe’s eyes in this book, portraying them in a different light. Many incidents and situations are achingly familiar and we do know how it all ends, but we do not know how Circe fits into the sequence and her reactions to it. This book brings out those connections, including a wonderful introduction to Odysseus and the lasting impression he has on Circe’s life.

The beauty of the plot lies in the simplicity with which the story is written and the complexity of the characters involved. The author passes on to us the message that to love oneself is most important and to understand one’s worth. With a lot of emotions involved, the author captures Circe’s thoughts very well, giving us vivid descriptions and glimpses into the worlds beyond. This book is about Circe’s journey as she searches for love, acceptance and deals with motherhood, the challenges she faces and the joy she finds in small things.

I cannot begin to explain how much this book had me hooked, turning page after page just to see where Circe goes and how she deals with her life. I learnt a lot from her, the way she treated people, the way she interacted with them, and in the end, her understanding of her position in the world and in life.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend this book to all those who enjoy fiction and fantasy steeped in mythology.

Book Blast: Soul Warrior by Falguni Kothari

★.•**•.★ Soul Warrior Book Blast ★.•**•.★ 
15th to 17th September, 2017
 
 
The Age of Kali is a series of mythic fantasy novels by international bestselling novelist Falguni Kothari. The first book of the series, Soul Warrior, introduces readers to a fictional law-governed Cosmos made up of heavenly, demonic and human realms and its protagonist, Lord Karna, the legendary guardian of the Human Realm, who is coerced into training six godlings into demon hunters against a rising demon army. The series arc interlocks into a war of domination between the Light and Dark forces of the Cosmos and the race to control the one soul capable of total cosmic annihilation, demi-god Karna’s and Draupadi’s secret child.
 
Get Your Copy from AMAZON
 
 
 
 
Praise for Soul Warrior:
 

“A beautiful exploration of fantasy and mythology, Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali) is the latest release from Falguni Kothari and by any stretch of the imagination she’s delivered an awesome story. Rich, enchanting, evocative, she effortlessly blends an ancient Indian epic and South Asian mythology with grace and quiet elegance to create the canvas upon which her miraculous world finds form…. Beautifully written and enviably imaginative, Soul Warrior proves an exemplary example of Fantasy Fiction. Definitely deserving of your attention it is recommended without reservation!”
   —Book Viral 


“I loved the writing which… hit that nice spot between being evocative and descriptive and still keeping the story moving….It has a huge cast of fascinating characters, a deep and rich world and definitely something I’m interested in following.”
   —Fangs for Fantasy 


“I loved the way Ms. Falguni has shown an eye for the details scattered throughout the novel…. Will I recommend this book? Oh yes, and be assured you will grab the next one too just to know more about the Soul Warrior.”
   —Global Asian Times 


“The plot is intriguing, much in the tradition of a modern thriller…. Precisely sketched and nuanced with quirky detail, the characters enrich the story they inhabit…. The vibrant characters in the multi-hued setting are the stuff superhero animation films are made of. Soul Warrior engrosses and enthralls. A thumping good read, I would say.”
   —Of Prose and Poetry blog 


Read an Excerpt:

SHUNYA: NOTHING AND EVERYTHING

Kuru Kshetra Battlefield.
        Day 17 of the Great Kuru War, seven thousand five hundred years ago.

Death is hot.

That surprises me. I’d imagined death as cold and brutal. Merciless. But in truth, death is hot as blood, and constant like a heartbeat.

Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. My lifeblood ebbs to the rhythm. My head ripped from its torso by Anjalika, the arrow of death that burns even now with the energy of the sun. Struck from behind like some novice. Felled in battle by that lily-livered usurper the Heavens smile upon—Prince Arjun. Brother Arjun.

What have I done?

I harness the thought. Cease all reflection and wrench free of my mortal body. I soar up, up into the gloaming, snapping the ties that tether me to life. Dead, I have no use for ties.

“A matter of perspective, Karna, O son of my godsire.” The unearthly words strum through the air, and I quiver like a plucked bowstring, overcome as much by the voice as its blasphemous claim. 

“Bonds of devotion nourish the soul, brother.”

There is that word again. Brother. Unpleasant laughter wells up in me. Alive, I am abandoned, denied my birthright—Celestial or royal. Death, it seems, changes everything.

A bright, nebulous light brings forth Lord Yama, the God of Death, atop his divine mount. His elephantine thighs ripple beneath a silken dhoti, ochre and crimson of color, as he guides the mammoth water buffalo to a halt. An iron medallion sways against the God’s powerful cerulean torso, its center stone an ethereal blood orange.

Hypnotic. Pulsing with life. I am drawn to the stone.

“Piteous waste,” Lord Yama mutters, surveying the carnage of war far below us.

I trace the trajectory of his gaze and behold the battered remains of my army drenched in the evidence of its mortality. Is it true? Have we died in vain?

Words form inside me and I will them out. “Shall we go, my lord?”

“Ha! Impatient to be judged, are you? Anxious to have your fate revealed?” asks the Judge of the Hell Realm. His red-black eyes burn with intelligence and compassion in a blue-tinged face that is long and lean and hard. “Rest easy, brother-warrior. You are not bound for the Great Courtroom.”
Not bound for Hell? Where then? Fear has eluded me for so long that I take a moment to recognize it. 

A hollow-bellied feeling it is, as annoying as a bone stuck in my throat.

“My lord, I have done bad deeds…terrible deeds in my life. I have waged wars, this horrendous bloodshed, and all because my pride could not—would not abide rejection. I have sinned. I must atone for my actions.”

Lord Yama smiles in a way I do not like. “You have redeemed yourself admirably, Karna. You forfeited your life for the greater good today. The deed far outweighs any misguided ones. Be at peace, brother, and enjoy the fruits of your karma.”

There is but one place to enjoy such fruits—the Higher Worlds.

I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity. I say so. “I won’t live amongst the Celestials.” Coexisting with the very souls who’ve spurned me is unthinkable. Watching her—for she would surely reside in Heaven soon—will be eternal torture.

Yama shakes his head, the horns on his crown slashing to and fro. “I thought you might say that. Relax. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”

“Am I to be reborn then? Am I to begin a new life, and forget the past?” Pain, sharp as a blade, lances through me at the thought. Forget my past? My family? Even her? Was that my punishment? To forget all that made me human?

It must be so. For have I not betrayed them as surely as I’ve betrayed my prince regent?

“Human rebirth is not your destiny, either. You are chosen, brother. Your war skills are needed for a higher purpose.” The God slips off his mount, his garments rustling in agitation. “This unjust war has pushed the Cosmos to the vortex of a cataclysm. Tomorrow, the Kuru War will end. Fearing its outcome, the Celestials rolled the Die of Fate and have unwittingly bestowed on Demon Kali untold powers.” Lord Yama bares his fangs in disgust at the foolish gamble. “Imagine the havoc that asura and his minions will wreak on the weak if left unchecked. The Human Realm must be safeguarded during Kali’s dark reign.”

I can imagine the horror only too well as I have battled with evil all my life. But I am done with wars. 
I am done with defeat. I won’t waste another lifetime fighting.

“With due respect, my lord, I am not the man for this task.”

“You are not a man at all,” Yama thunders, fists shaking. “You are the son of Surya, the Sun God. Accept that you are no ordinary soul.”

I say nothing. I think nothing. I feel something but I squash it down.

Lord Yama’s thick black brows draw together. “Demon Kali will try to pervade every particle of good that exists in the Cosmos, beginning with the corruptible Human Realm. Once he obliterates all of humanity, he’ll set his sights on the Celestials. Kali will not stop until he’s destroyed our way of life. But you can stop him. You are light to his darkness. Do you understand now why you had to betray him? Your beloved humans need you, Karna. I need you. Our father believes in you. Claim your rightful place in the Cosmos.”

Impatiently, Lord Yama removes the iron medallion from his neck and holds it out. The vermillion sunstone glows as if its soul is on fire. Nay! It is my soul that is on fire.

Indescribable energy curls through me. I gasp, though not in pain. I shudder and feel myself grow large, grow hot. Was this rebirth?

I am strong, full-bodied and lethal once more. Then I roar as light bursts forth from my very core and I throb with glorious, blinding power. When I come to myself, my world has changed again. Bubbles of color shimmer all around me: cobalt and saffron, azure and rose. By karma! They are souls. Infinite floating souls.

“Behold the spectrum of life: the worthy, the notorious, the righteous and the sinners.” The God of Death’s soul was a worthy sapphire blue with a tinge of silver. “Your duty, should you choose to accept the office of the Soul Warrior, is to hunt down the red-souled asuras and crush them. Whatever you decide, I wish you a long and successful Celestial existence, Karna,” Yama booms out and vanishes into the purpling sky.

The parley has stunned me. The world of color holds me in thrall. I was dead. Yet, now I am not. A new path lies before me. Unwanted, unwelcome, I insist on principle. I close my eyes. Open them to stare at the medallion cupped in my hand—a golden-hued hand at once familiar and not—and know myself for a fool. I do want this. It’s what I am.

Bastard-born. Rebel. Son. Husband. Father. Warlord. And protector. I fist the talisman, buoyed by its concrete warmth. This is who I am.

I am the Soul Warrior.

 
 
About the Author:
 
 

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based South Asian author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She’s published in India in contemporary romance with global e-book availability; Bootie and the Beast (Harlequin Mills and Boon) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! (Rupa & Co.), and launches a mythic fantasy series with Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali, #1)I’m embarrassed to admit how many social media accounts I own :

Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Pinterest

 
 

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