Pros: Compelling narrative, wonderful adaptation of the myth of the Minotaur.
Cons: None at all.
The Bottom Line: Wonderful narrative retelling of a classic myth. Great introduction for a young adult; enjoyable for any reader.
This is another random book that I picked up off the "pile" next to the bed. I'm a bookseller and this one caught my interest enough to keep it rather than donate it. Again, I flipped through to decide how high it should be on the pile (that means how desperate I would need to be to actually read it.)
Okay, it got me. It got me pretty quick.
This is a retelling of the tale of the Minotaur on the island of Crete in the ancient kingdom that existed between the Levant and Greece and Egypt.
Many of us may be familiar with the story of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth. It's classic literature. This book goes into the meanings behind the myth as a fictional account that brings together what has been handed down to the world in ancient literature.
This is the story of Xenodice (ZEE no dick) who is the third daughter of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae. She tells about her culture in the palace of Knossos. Knossos was excavated in fairly recent history and was found to be a huge palace that possessed long twisty maze like hallways. For a common person of the one room hut variety, the complexity of the palace would have seemed a large and puzzling mystery. This palace is thought to be the basis of the labyrinth legend.
This book is presented as a narrative. Xenodice tells about the palace where she lives and she talks about the history that she has learned and she tells first person the story of the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus and Daedelus and Icarus.
The author has done a wonderful job blending these related myths and legends together to tell a compelling story with jealousy, heartache, loyalty, honor and intrigue.
I'm familiar with the stories. I'm familiar with the ruins at Knossos. Lost in the Labyrinth gives a wealth of description of the palace as it surely must have appeared in the days of its glory. Artifacts that remain for us today are given life as Xenodice moves through the world of a princess of a long forgotten place and time.
The Minotaur is Xenodice's brother. He is described as having the body and head of a bull with a human torso and arms. She loves her brother, and tries to save him from the treachery that seeks to destroy him.
The reader gains insight into the social structure of the later Minoan period. I love the way that the author has taken known artifacts and has researched and worked those artifacts into the narrative. There is a well known fresco found in the palace of Knossos that shows young athletes grasping a bull by the horns and vaulting over the bull. This ritual (truly unknown to the modern world) is described in this book in a way that illustrates the movements and makes sense of something that would make the modern human wonder.
I think anyone with an interest in this time period would enjoy the descriptions found in this book. This is suitable for young adults as well and could serve as a wonderful introduction to the myth and legend of this time in antiquity.
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Oct 5, 2010
Feb 12, 2011 09:06 PM UTC
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Fourteen-year-old Princess Xenodice tries to prevent the death of her half-brother, the Minotaur, at the hands of the Athenian prince, Theseus, who is aided by Icarus, Daedalus, and her sister Ariadne. Reprint.