Rummanah Aasi
 Frequent readers of my blog know that I've been interested and a huge fan of Greek Mythology. 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: In the third and final volume of the Delphic Women series, Hector is dead, Troy has fallen in ruins; and unknown to the Argives, refugees from the sack are rebuilding their civilization in New Troy. Agamemnon King of Men returns in triumph to Mycenae, bringing Princess Cassandra among his captives. Diomenes called Chryse and a Trojan sailor pursue her by sea, hoping against hope to rescue her. Their resourcefulness will be strained to its limits by war, pillage and social breakdown. For all is not well in the House of the Axe. In the king’s absence, Clytemnestra the Queen has taken a lover Aegisthus and has mixed feelings about her husband’s return. And the King’s golden-eyed daughter Electra hides a secret of her own which will bring a terrible vengeance. Meanwhile Odysseus, Sacker of Cities, has troubles of his own. He wishes only to return home to Ithaca, but the gods have other ideas.

Review: Greenwood's Electra is a very ambitious novel that mostly succeeds in retelling the myths of Electra/Orestes meanwhile continuing Cassandra's story along with a side note of Odysseus plight to go back home to Ithaca. Out of the three books in the Delphic Women series, I found Electra to be the weakest. The pacing of the book was uneven for me as we quickly go through the action and suspense right away with the Electra/Orestes myth but then really drags as the characters go on separate journeys. I would have liked to get to know Electra before all the action started and I didn't really get a sense of what kind of person she is other than cunning and observant. I didn't find Electra likable, but I can hardly fault her for her actions given the history of her family and the actions of her parents. 
  Like her other novels, Greenwood takes liberty with the Greek myths. For example, contrary to the common story of Cassandra who is tragically killed in her well known myth, Greenwood keeps her alive and she still remains a strong character. I really liked the juxtaposition between her point of view and that of Electra on the society's culture and role of women. The Greek gods still play an important role though they are mostly passive observers who play with the lives of all of mortal characters, although Zeus periodically asks them to stop. Periodically, the gods look into the Pool of Mortal Lives and comment on the action, argue, and decide the next step in these peoples' fates. We do find out the outcome of the gods' wager: the stronger of the two--love or death. I wasn't too thrilled with how everything tied up too neatly in a tight bow at the end of the book. Overall, I would recommend picking this book up if you are really interested in reading about Greek Mythology, particularly from the viewpoint of women. 

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence including rape 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: Age of Bronze graphic novel series by Eric Shanower, Women of Troy by Euripides, Antigone by Sophocles
3 Responses
  1. I think I would have to pass on this one as I am such a stickler for sticking to the original story. I don't like when authors take liberties that extend far beyond the original.

  2. Oh I'm not sure that I would love the neat bow ending but you had me curious with ..."provides a different spin on characters who were once thought to be weak and one dimensional." Yea, I want to read that! :)

  3. Hmm, I don't really like that the trilogy wraps up so neatly, but I do like that it's from women's perspective. I also love that these are Greek myth retellings which I always love. I still need to start this series, Rummanah, though I've had it in my wishlist for awhile thanks to you :)

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