Saturday, 2 May 2015

Review: Second Olympus

Long time readers will know that I have a weakness for two kinds of stories: Those involving steampunk worlds, and those involving Greek mythology. It never crossed my mind that both elements could be combined into a single story. That just goes to show how daring and creative author K. A. Stewart is with her newest standalone novel, Second Olympus. A beautifully visualized, highly creative, complex story drawing from old fashioned myths and featuring some creative twists on famous characters, and one of the best steampunk settings I've ever encountered. A must for all lovers of Greek mythology and steampunk. This might sound like a combination that doesn't work, but trust me, it does. Second Olympus will definitely be on the top of my list for favorite books this year.

Beautiful cover with a crucial plot element added! Love the dark rainbow and lightning!

The war amongst the Greek gods lasted over three decades and when it was ended, the sun was snuffed from the sky, Artemis sat on the throne, and the muses were murdered.

Without the power to create or invent, the human race languished for generations, trapped within the walled city of Elysia, their lives governed by the steady tick of the great world clock and the watchful eye of their increasingly erratic goddess.

But in the lower wards, far from the shining beacon that is Olympus Tower, a crippled boy named Geoff has grown to manhood, unaware of the legacy contained in his own mysterious bloodline. When his loved ones are threatened, the world will finally wake under the power of the muse, and the insane goddess Artemis will remember the very dangerous power of human imagination.

There is so much to love about this book. The story of Artemis' insanity and desperation to keep control is truly riveting. The setting is gorgeously inventive and descriptive. The world is easy to fall into, and the harshness which the characters often live in is made endearing thanks to main character Geoff, a boy with damaged legs, a secret past, and a big heart. While there isn't an overwhelming amount of action scenes, I was never bored. The story and setting hooked me, and I found the tone to be darker and gritter than most of Stewart's previous works.

Each character is distinctive and unique. Artemis is one of my favorite goddesses, so it was fun to see her play the villain. I had to say, she was quite an adversary, able to bring the mighty, mournful warrior Heracles to her side as a bodyguard. Among other things...

Geoff and his friends are quirky and fun, Geoff himself being a strong lead character with a truly expected and unique back story. Truthfully, and ironically, I found Heracles to be my favorite, however. I've never been fond of him (in mythology he was kind of a dick), but his story and character were sympathetic and tragic, and I couldn't help but enjoy each scene he was in. The side characters from mythology were fun to read about, and it's hard not to love the likes of Keras and Raffa.

As I keep ranting on about, the world is absolutely stellar. Deeptown isn't exactly a place I would want to call home, but Stewart does a great job of creating a setting where we can sympathize with the good and downtrodden living in it. My favorite setting was the Greenhouse, and the mysterious creatures that live there with an interesting, renowned Greek character. There are all kinds of creatures and lurking in this world, each one enhanced by the inventive steampunk elements.

If I'm being annoyingly vague, it's for a good reason. I've never read a book like this, one that seamlessly meshes two beloved story avenues and creates a new distinctive work that is both heartfelt and memorable. I never even imagined putting the two together, and now I wonder how the idea passed by. If it weren't for Stewart, one of my favorite authors, having written it, I would probably have passed it completely. And that would have been a huge mistake. Not only did I get inspiration for my own work, this is an exceptional book in its own right. While my first instinct is to recommend it to those who will genuinely appreciate it regardless (Greek mythology lovers and steampunk fans), I would also recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy or fiction in general. Second Olympus is utterly unique and should not be missed. This book is all about dreams, and what are books supposed to do if not encourage us to dream?


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