The Iliad

Well guys, I did it! I made it through my very first “Study Book!” The Iliad was first on my list for a reason–I’ve been trying to get to it since high school. I read The Odyssey as required reading, but Homer’s original epic poem never made the cut.

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I’ve always loved Greek mythology–I think it’s the basis of many of my other fascinations with old cultures. The stories are just so bizarre and interesting, and often hilarious now that I’m old enough to understand what Zeus’s swan form is actually doing. But epic poetry is just not my cup of tea, and, unfortunately…neither are war stories.

The Odyssey was interesting because it is post-war, and it is a journey. It tells of monsters and treachery, and in the end, a woman waiting at home.

The Iliad…well…Hector always has a bronze flashy shield, Ajax is Giant and Little. Zeus and Hera hate each other more than a suburban married couple. And it seems to me that Patroclus is the real hero of the story, not Achilles, but that’s me. Oh, and Menelaus really does have red hair (I always thought it was weird that they cast him with an Irish guy in the movie, but I guess it actually makes sense!).

Other than that, it was just a bunch of cocky guys fighting each other. The gods had much more of a presence than I expected, but mostly it was all battles an bloodshed, and I just didn’t care much for it.

 

And that, my friends, is my terrible interpretation of Homer’s great war epic. I can hear the academics groaning. It’s ok. I understand. I said I was going to read the list…I didn’t say I was going to enjoy it! I was going to read The Odyssey again right after this, but I think I’m going to switch to some prose for now.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #23:   book more than 100 years old

Fulfills Boxall #73

Fairies: The Myths, Legends, & Lore

I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, and I think that is what most draws me to fantasy. I love the way authors use similar themes throughout to weave these stories that, even though it is fiction…there is this seemingly thread of truth to it all. It is all so familiar, and those “truths” go back and back and back so far that we really don’t know if they are fact.

As William Faulkner said, “Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.”

Skye Alexander’s book on the fae was very educational and informative. I’m on my fourth page of journal notes today, which might be a record. She covers all of the basics, from Tinkerbell to Jinn (what we know more commonly as Genie). The myths and legends for all of the fairies get broken down by country.

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I have mixed feelings about the structure of this book. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn’t read it on a Kindle. I think this is one of those books you need to have in your hand, because there are just so many formatting changes, and pictures, and insets. The paperwhite just couldn’t do it justice. Plus…I happen to know that this has a gorgeous purple cover (the Goodreads pic doesn’t do it justice), and ooooh do I want it so badly.

However, even knowing that my reading was tainted by ebook format, I still have some hesitations. This does read very much like a college research paper, which unfortunately means it is a bit dry. There were subject headings every single paragraph, it seemed. Bullet points were extremely prevalent. I am glad it was well cited, but part of the reason my journal is so full is because she almost overdid it with quotes from other authors. Don’t get me wrong…I love when authors use quotations…to a point. But, I think it also detracts attention from the main body of work, so there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I did really enjoy the insets, and I think I would have liked them even more if I had seen them in book format, rather than on the kindle. These were little stories about real life fairy sightings, examples to prove what Skye was describing. These made her research much more interesting.

Overall, I think this would be a wonderful thing for any fan of lore, fantasy, mythology, fairy tales, etc to have on their shelves. Also, if you are an author, you should definitely have this to flip through as a quick reference. It would be really handy just to pick this up when you need to know something about Irish legend, quickly. The book doesn’t have anything super in depth on any of the subjects, but it is really interesting basic information. I’m adding it to my To Buy list, and I’ll probably read her other books. I know she has one on Mermaids that I’m for sure going to check out!

American Gods

I’ll be honest. After reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane I was not super excited to read another Neil Gaiman novel. That book was just very strange, and not really my cup of tea. So when my book club moderator chose this one, after reading 3 other Sci-Fi books…I was less than enthusiastic.

I was wrong.

American Gods is such a different book from Ocean. Ok, so I can see the author’s influence in both, but the perspectives are just in such a completely opposite spectrum. Ocean is written in a child’s dreamlike wonder, and AG is about a massive ex-con. Kudos to Gaiman to be able to do that.

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Speaking of the perspective–the writing here is marvelous. You really get into Shadow’s head. There is a lot of confusion and frustration and pain, and you feel every bit of it. I will say, that unfortunately, for me, the ending was a little bit meh. Gaiman does a really great job of building up to what is going to happen, and then it just kind of drops off into blahness. That said, I was really tired when I finished this last night…so maybe I need to reread it again. I don’t want to believe it was that mundane.

What I liked best about this book were the gods. If you are into mythology at all, you are going to recognize a LOT of characters in this. And they are going to pop-up in random places. Think Men in Black, only with Greek, Roman, Norse mythological characters.

Oh, and because I feel like I should warn my fellow Marvel Fangirls. Beware. Loki looks more like Morgan Freeman than Tom Hiddleston. Just be prepared. I’m sorry. I had to let you know.

This book is going on my To Buy list for sure, even with the so-so ending. I want to reread it, because the rest of it was just that great. The storyline was so intricate, and I know there are details that I missed on the first read-through. Pick this up–you won’t be sorry.