Medea (Book 1 of the Delphic Women Series) by Kerry Greenwood: A Book Review

Medea (Book 1 of the Delphic Women Series)
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Genre: Historical fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 431
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: We know Medea killed her children . . . or do we?

     In Medea, the first novel in her Delphic Woman series, Kerry Greenwood breathes fresh life into the age of heroes and rescues a woman wronged by ancient playwrights and history.

     Princess Medea’s destiny is bound up with passion, quests, power, murder, voyages, prophecies, and broken oaths. As priestess of Hekate--the Dark Mother, Queen of the Lost, Lady of Changes--Medea protects the sacred grove holding the Golden Fleece and bones of an old king. Jason arrives determined to acquire both and rule the land.

     The King sets up challenges which Jason must conquer to earn the throne. But Jason’s gentian blue eyes and hair bright as gold thread obsess Medea--”here is love, here is joy”--compelling her to help him master wild bulls and lure the great serpent guarding the fleece into sleep. Then the king breaks his word and seeks to kill the two, who escape together.

     Through Medea’s royal line, Jason becomes king of Corinth, swearing always to love his wife and queen. But his allegiance is fleeting. Not even their four children can save their union. Medea has sacrificed home, family, goddess, and innocence for the “melting, fiery loving” she feels for him.

     What comes next? The answer lies in this compelling story of tragedy, vengeance, exile, grief, change, and an oracle’s response to one returning to worship the dark after having fallen in love with the light.

     My Review: Medea has been known to us through Greek playwrights, most famously Euripides, for killing her children after her husband Jason of the Argonauts have abandoned her for another woman. However, in Kerry Greenwood’s version of Medea, Medea has given her voice to speak and narrates her version of what happened. This Medea does not kill her own children. Rather it was the city of Corinth who killed them, and thus bestowed a great curse over the city.

     Medea is a princess of Colchis and a priestess of Hekate, the Dark Mother. She spent some time with the Scythians, and Iranic equestrian tribes, and learns about the customs. When she comes back to Colchis she finds that a stranger named Jason and his group of fellow Argonauts have come to demand her father, Aetes the King of Colchis to give the Greeks back the city’s most treasured Golden Fleece, and the bones of Phrixos’s, Jason’s grandfather and rider of the the Flying Golden Ram, whom he sacrificed in honor of Zeus. Aetes agrees to give Jason what he has asked for, but intends to not honor that agreement and plans to kill Jason. Medea, who is instantly infatuated with Jason, decides to betray her father to help save his life, gets the objects he has demanded, and leave with Jason to become his wife and queen.

     Medea is portrayed as a strong and wise woman. She is expressed to be independent. However, when she arrives in Greece, she is a foreigner and not accustomed to their ways and is instantly hated. She is portrayed as a woman, who will do anything to keep the love of Jason, even to kill the evil tyrants who stand in the way of Jason being king. However, despite the dark deeds, there is always room for redemption, which is Medea’s ultimate quest. Jason is portrayed as weak and stupid. He is a failure as a leader and cannot make smart decisions. Rather, he depends on other people to make decisions for him. There is also a second narrator, Nauplios, a fellow Argonaut and best friend of Jason, who tells the adventures of the Argonauts.

     Overall, this is a story of betrayals, deceits, murder, and broken love. But there is also renewal, second chances, hope, and, most of all, redemption. The message in the book is that anyone can be redeemed, and there is always hope. I recommend this not only to anyone who is interested in fantasy and Greek mythology, but to anyone who is going through a rough time, and feels hopeless. If a woman like Medea can be redeemed, there is always hope for you!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Comments

  1. Not sure about this one; I wonder just where the balance goes between fantasy and mythology? Of course, as long as it retains the key points of the mythological story, then perhaps it could be worthwhile reading.

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  2. It is a mythological story. It is a re-telling of the myth, but it is told in a feminist perspective. It follows the myth very faithfully. I just put it as a fantasy genre because myths have a lot of fantasy elements. For instance, I would put Homer's Odyssey in a as a fantasy because of their elements. For in the Odyssey, it has monsters, giants, and magic.

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  3. Yes, I suppose you are right, Lauralee; there is a sort of merging at the edges, isn't there?

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