Thursday, May 31, 2012

Olympians: Volume 1: Zeus, King of the Gods

by George O'Connor, 77 pages

Love mythology? Can't remember how all those names and stories relate to each other? Read these.

Zeus, King of the Gods is a wonderfully readable retelling of creation, the origins of the Olympians, and the rise of Zeus in Greek mythology. O'Connor's tale is heavily researched, written to draw you in, and drawn to fit the epic and the personal as he makes all the complicated relationships and rivalries fall into place and feel like an actual story and not just a bunch of random facts. He keeps it accessible to mature younger readers but without dumbing things down or skimming over elements like Zeus's roving eye or the greedy, fearful betrayals of parents and children. He also provides lots of helpful extras, such as a simplified (yet still ridiculously complex!) family tree and paragraphs where he talks about his research and how he chose which elements to include. It's fascinating stuff!

I love the images of the shadowed, towering Titans with their heads blurring into the clouds and the traditional repeated poetical phrases and images ("there was too much of his father in him" with characters' eyes filled with the night sky; mother Gaea crying because "she loved all her children" with the rain pouring down on the landscape). Adults will find just as much to enjoy here as the tween / teen target audience. Exciting, funny, educational, and entertaining, this is a great starting point for the rest of the series.

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