Journey to Redemption


Damian, a former slave in ancient Greece, learns the meaning of a prophecy in this final volume of the Delphi trilogy.
This historical novel continues the tale of Iannella’s Journey to Delphi (2012) and Destiny at Delphi (2013), which traced Damian’s path from age 12, when his village was razed in the First Sacred Wars in early-sixth-century B.C. Greece to his betrayal into slavery and his journey to Delphi, where he became an important adviser to the tyrant Kleisthenes. In this final volume, Damian at first seems to be cheating the destiny told to him by the Oracle at Delphi. He’s now happily married to Ariena—they’re expecting their first child—and he’s co-coordinator of the new Pythian Games and trainer to godlike athlete Phorcys. Furthermore, his great enemy, Scyron, is reported to be dead. When tragedy strikes, however, Damian must search his soul to find the true meaning of his destiny and the Orphic dictum to “know thyself.” Iannella again gives readers many intriguing, telling details about life, culture and attitudes in ancient Greece, including a reminder that marble statues were carefully painted with lifelike colors and a lesson in cemetery etiquette: “I poured some olive oil as a libation through a tube on one side of his grave and said prayers to Persephone and Orpheus.” By balancing mainstream Greek thought against the Orphics’ gentle precepts, Iannella illuminates Damian’s philosophical journey. It might be true, as Kleisthenes remarks, that “[t]his life is meant to be hard, if not cruel….All Greeks, deep down, understand this thought; they try to forget it.” But the novel also shows that a gentler perspective is possible, and Damian’s travails lead him to conclude that “[t]here must be darkness if the light is to be fully appreciated.” That said, the prose style can become flat, remote and prosaic at times, summarizing dialogue instead of showing it—even at especially dramatic moments: “
I told them how he was the most pure and noble man I knew and that I was blessed to have him as my friend.”
An often satisfying conclusion to Damian’s story, with much to engage lovers of ancient history.

Pub Date: June 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494837860

Page Count: 324

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2014

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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