The Golden Gryphon Feather
This novel does not retell a myth, but rather tells a story around the edges of one. It’s set shortly before the adventures of Theseus, when the first shipload of Athenians is brought to Crete (or Kaphtu, as Purtill calls it). But instead of feeding them to the Minotaur, M’nos wants the Athenians to join in the bull-dancing which is an important religious rite on Kaphtu. He intends for the ill-trained Athenians to die on the dance floor. But one of the captives, Chryseis, befriends Ariadne, and together they begin to work against the plots of M’nos.
Stylistically, this book is only about average. However, while Purtill’s prose may not be brilliant, it’s still very pleasant to read. His characters are sympathetic; the culture he creates for Kaphtu is interesting and appealing; there are a few bits of striking imagery. And there’s just an overall feeling of freshness and magic that makes it very good read.
Purtill attempts to reconcile the world of Greek mythology with Christianity by saying that the gods are only creatures, and they have been delegated power by the “King above all the Kings,” to whom they will eventually have to answer. This works, so far as it goes; but what Purtill doesn’t deal with is the worship the gods. Since none of the characters seem to be really “devout”–they respect the gods but don’t seem to have any religious devotion to them–I don’t think it’s too much of a problem, but it does prevent Purtill’s attempt at reconciliation from fully working.
Otherwise, there’s no really bad content except for a couple mentions of the characters not having Christian sexual ethics. Since they’re just brief references, and since the story takes places in a society without any revelation, I don’t find it too problematic.