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Book recommendations: Minoan Crete in fiction

Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 3:05 pm
by Windwalker
Crete, like its Northwestern counterparts, Scotland and Ireland, brims with both natural beauty and layered human artifacts. It was also the cradle of a unique, sui generis civilization, the Minoans. The mystery and allure of this culture led many writers to use it as background. I thought it would be neat to list a few books whose plots take advantage of the uniqueness of Minoan Crete.

A portion of the Kushiel trilogy takes place in a Minoan Crete that survived the Thera eruption and is thriving during an alternative Renaissance Europe.

Mary Renault, much as I am wary of her misogyny, portrayed Minoan Crete as a dark but fascinating domain in the first of her two Theseus books, The Bull from the Sea.

A much more intriguing book that is both good literature and exciting SF is Secret Passages, by Paul Preuss. The book involves Minoan artifacts, the idea of the observer changing the observed, forbidden love... and vivid, complex characters.

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:59 pm
by intrigued_scribe
Superb recommendations here, as well. :) I'd also like to suggest Voice of the Goddess by Judith Hand, which includes details of the Minoan culture as well as believable three-dimensional characters and an interesting plot.


Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:42 pm
by Windwalker
I finished The Voice of the Goddess and found the religious/political organization that the author postulates for the Minoans very interesting. In a way, it reminds me of the Hopi system: everything interwoven and integrated, yet the insistence on harmony at all costs could stunt and suffocate. The sense of a long-ago time and place came across persuasively and the plot moved briskly along. I liked the characters, especially Zuliya the teacher and Sarpedon the admiral.

Complaints: the Achaean king was too monochromatically evil, the decision of Leesandra to remain virginal until Alektrion strolled back in her life made no cultural sense and several of the names were off-key. These things jarred because the rest was well-done, in the tradition of women's action fiction. Overall, a good read (I read it in one sitting). Thank you for the suggestion, dear Heather!

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:14 pm
by intrigued_scribe
You're quite welcome; I'm happy that you enjoyed the book. :) The monochromatic portrayal of the leading antagonist was also among my foremost complaints, as were some of Leesandra's decisions and the smaller inaccuracies that arose here and there. That aside, the environment did indeed strike me as one of the most persuasive aspects. Zuliya and Sarpedon were among my favorite characters too, and to me stood as excellent foils to other personalities within the narrative.