Alexios is an eighteen year old Greek prince in a world where gods walk the earth in disguise, myths are real, and fate is both unknowable and inescapable.
Don’t let the blurb fool you: this isn’t just a love triangle (rectangle?). This is a well-researched story with some absolutely phenomenal world building. I am a complete sucker for world building, and… just wow. Alexios’ world hits the right balance between history and mythology, between everyday life in antiquity and epic.
Alexios is supposed to be choosing a mentor. He wants King Lykos and King Lykos wants him, but Alexios’ father has thrown a few other candidates in the mix as well. At the same time as Alexios is being rapidly seduced by Lykos’ commanding presence, he’s also starting to notice his slave Galen. His feelings for Galen are unusually sweet and totally inappropriate: screwing slaves is fine, but you shouldn’t mistake it for anything else. From the beginning it’s apparent that Galen is more to Alexios than convenient.
While Alexios is noticing Galen for the first time, the god Apollo is noticing Alexios. This occurs for a few reasons: firstly, Alexios is beautiful and even Apollo’s got eyes. Secondly, the Muses are all a bit in love with Alexios. (I loved the Muses, BTW, and their different priorities. Clio only cares if Alexios will be historically significant, while Erato is all about turning Alexios and Galen into a love poem…) Most importantly though, Alexios has befriended Cyrus, an ex-slave of Lykos’ who just happens to be Apollo’s son and is on his way to Delphi to become a prophet.
Then, due to circumstances out of Alexios’ control — fate is a bitch. So are The Fates, I guess — suddenly which king he’s going to choose as his mentor becomes the least of Alexios' problems. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but I’ll say this: when the gods pass judgement, look out. Thanks to some judicious foreshadowing, we already know what happens when you run your mouth off in a god’s hearing. This is Niobe, wishing she hadn’t bragged about how many kids she had.
I really, really wanted there to be a happy ending for Alexios, and I had no idea how it was going to happen. I might have teared up a bit. I might have, or maybe that was just something in my eye. You don’t know. Stop judging me.
This looks like it’s the first in a series, and I can’t wait to read the next one.
Also, for those of us who haven’t read Greek myths in so long we can’t tell our Artemis from our elbows, there’s a glossary in the back!