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Review: Classical Mythology

Classical Mythology
Classical Mythology by Elizabeth Vandiver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve loved Classical Mythology since I was 12. I loved the stories of these childish and petulant gods, their petty schemes and squabble. And the adventures of their various heroic offsprings, triumphant or tragic they may be. I swallowed them whole (like Cronos with his children).

I didn’t know what I was expecting when I purchased this thing. Did I want to hear the stories read to me? Did I want the Trojan War brought to life? This course isn’t that, but an examination of the theories and studies of classical myth at a level that I had never imagined. The students of the arts are probably facepalming themselves right now. Seriously, the sort of parallels that can be garnered from the reading of the stories have been nothing but astonishing to me. I certainly learned a great deal, the behind-the-scenes working of the stories, and how they can be interpreted.

I was surprised to learn about the heavy influence Ovid had on Shakespeare. Learned about how, despite the strong females gods prominent in classical mythology, ancient Greeks still valued boys higher than girls, men more valuable than women. The wholesale adoption of the Greek gods by the Romans, except for a major, wholly Roman god Janus.

This bears a second listening, as now I’m beginning to understand how some of the book reviewers actually critique works of literature, the method, if you will, of deconstructing a piece of work and apply layers of current reality that fits into the picture.

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Review: The Last Wish

The Last Wish
The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Of course, like most of the people not from Poland I’ve been introduced to this via the popular and (most importantly) well-reviewed Witcher video game. I’m taking the tack of my book-adapted movie watching habits – I will only play the game once I’ve read the book, so here I am.

It’s not a bad book at all. It’s cleverly written, with famous fairy tales redressed and reworked into a fantasy setting complete with all sorts of exotic monsters, with the interesting twist that the hero, Geralt, is himself considered a borderline monster himself, since he’s not quite human and imbued with supernatural abilities.

I’ve not read fantasy in a while, as I’m very leery of cookie-cutter fantasy, but thankfully this didn’t make me break out in hives.

I read this in my Kindle, and the format of the novel, which is essentially a series of inter-related short stories bookended by a couple of what is known as a framing story (starts off in the middle of something, then cuts to stories which fill in the back story for the characters, then ends with the continuation of the story that started at the beginning of the book). This format was a little disorienting, and I’d think that if someone picked up a physical book it would have been formatted with typeface and whatnot that wouldn’t have been so jarring a transition for the reader.

Not bad, and I’ll be looking forward to reading the next book in the Witcher series, something that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while, The Blood of Elves.

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Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent! It’s a Batman story with a love angle. It’s a spy novel with a dastardly villain, plenty of intrigue, clever escapades and a generally fabulous action adventure.

A group of Englishmen led by a notoriously daring but hitherto unknown figure known as the Scarlet Pimpernel is rescuing French aristocrats and their families bound for the guillotine during the French Revolution. The said aristocrats are smuggled out of France under the authorities’ collective noses and the French government, feeling a little undermined, is sending spies to England to uncover the identity of this meddlesome person.

Great romp.

Btw, I loved the word ‘citoyenne’. I love the way it rolls off the tongue.

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