Rummanah Aasi
 I've been interested in Greek Mythology for as long as I could remember. When I came across Kerry Greenwood's Delphic Women which retold the myths of Jason and the Gold Fleece, the Trojan War and its aftermath from the point of view of the important female characters, I knew I had to read them. Greenwood makes the myths come alive and provides a different spin on characters who were once thought to be weak and one dimensional.

Description: Medea, Princess of Colchis, is a priestess of Hecate, Three Named, Lady of Phantoms. She is the custodian of the wood in which the Golden Fleece is hung. She alone can tame the giant serpent which guards the grove. And then Jason and his Argonauts come along, and she falls catastrophically in love. She helps him steal the Golden Fleece ans sails with him to claim his throne. And that's when things go wrong... and she must attempt to reclaim her humanity through abandonment, murder, grief and heavy seas.

Review: The story of Medea is not a feel good bedtime story. It is a story of a woman's rage that is so strong, she even killed her own children to make a point. Needless to say, Medea isn't a heroine girls aspire to be, but Greenwood transforms this notorious female character into someone we can sympathize and root for. Medea is a feminist retelling of the Medea and Jason and the Argonauts myths. In many renditions of these stories, Medea doesn't have a voice to share her feelings and point of view. In Greenwood's version of the tale, Medea has a strong voice that can not be ignored and it is contrasted with a fictional member of Jason's Argonauts named Naupolis.
 Greenwood's Medea is a priestess of Hecate and a princess of Colchis, in what will become the modern-day Republic of Georgia. She has learned well the teachings of her tutor, the sour Trioda, and is used to a good deal of freedom as she roams the area, always accompanied by her two black hounds. Greenwood spends a lot of time discussing Medea's upbringing which I found fascinating as Medea struggles to learn what it means to become a woman and the double standards of gender. From Argonaut Nauplios' narration, we learn of the difficulties faced by the heroes who accompany Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece, his ticket to reclaim his rightful inheritance. After harrowing adventures, the Argonauts arrive in Colchis, where Medea's father, Aetes, sets Jason impossible tasks to acquire the fleece. It is through Nauplios' character that we see what makes a man of honor even though he may appear as a mere mortal man.
  To my surprise and disappointment, the Golden Fleece myth is only a few pages and goes by quickly. Jason as you can imagine is not seen in a good light. He is a person who has no backbone and can not make a decision to save his life. One is left to wonder why he was even picked for this dangerous quest and made a demigod. Greenwood follows the overall Golden Fleece myth with Medea instantly falls in love with the charismatic Jason and secretly helps him when he promises to marry her and be forever faithful. The best and biggest surprise is how Greenwood handles the end of her story. Though it is a drastic change in what we know of the 'original' myth, it works really well and emphasizes on all themes Greenwood touches upon in her story.
  It is clear that Greenwood has done her research thoroughly in every aspect of life in Ancient Greece. The setting and lifestyle isn't glorified but rough, messy, and full of injustices. The pacing of the book is a bit uneven and the prose is a bit clunky at times, however, I found myself really enjoying the Medea-centric parts of the story. I would recommend this book to readers who are serious about Greek Mythology and are interested in learning to read these myths from a feminist angle.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence and sexual situations throughout the book as well as language. Recommended for mature teens and adults who enjoy and are serious about Greek Mythology.

If you like this book try: Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin
7 Responses
  1. I am not very familiar with this myth, it does sound interesting but I am little hesitant about the whole feminist thing, I hope it isn't too over the top. Too bad about Jason only having a small appearance as well.


  2. This would be a dark book and I can see why it wouldn't be for bedtime. :) I do like retellings and would be curious about the feminist angle. Great review!


  3. Sometime in my youth, possibly jr high, we read Jason and the Argonauts and Medea completely fascinated me. I thought she got a really raw deal. I will definitely be reading this one despite it's clunkiness. I haven't found much about her and would love something that focuses on her story, through her eyes. Great review!!


  4. Jenny Says:

    I don't think I actually know the story of Medea Rummanah, and from what I've gathered from your review it's a darkly fascinating one! Despite the few issues you had with the pacing and the prose, I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part. I need to go look up Medea now, you have me so curious!


  5. Rubita Says:

    Your description of this reminds me of The Mists of Avalon, which is a feminist retelling of the story of King Arthur. While I don't mind retellings in general, it's often difficult for me to get behind feminist retellings since they often cast favorite characters in negative lights simply because they're male. I'd prefer a more balanced approach, especially since my personal version of feminism doesn't equate to women=good, men=bad.


  6. I'm finally back! I love Greek mythology so I'd love to give this one a try since it's well-researched. The myth of Jason and the Argonauts was never my favourite - and I especially didn't like Jason - so I feel like this story's perspective is probably in line with my views on Jason and Medea.


  7. Aylee Says:

    Right on, I love Greek mythology! Though to be honest, I'm not to familiar with Medea. Still, I love it when the author has done their research and can put a new spin on an old story!


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