Athena’s Champion – David Hair and Cath Mayo – ARC Review

Title: Athena’s Champion
Author: David Hair & Cath Mayo
Series: Olympus Trilogy #1
Genre: Mythological/Historical Fiction
November 8th, 2018 (Canelo)

: The first in a thrilling new historical fantasy series; Odysseus must embrace his secret heritage and outwit the vengeful Gods who would control or destroy him…
Prince Odysseus of Ithaca is about to have his world torn apart. He’s travelled to the oracle at Pytho to be anointed as heir to his island kingdom; but instead the Pythia reveals a terrible secret, one that tears down every pillar of his life, and marks him out for death.
Outcast by his family, hunted by the vengeful gods, Odysseus is offered sanctuary by Athena, goddess of wisdom, and thrust into the secret war between the Olympians for domination and survival. Only his wits, and his skill as a warrior, can keep him ahead of their power games – and alive.
When one of Athena’s schemes goes drastically wrong, and the young Helen of Sparta is kidnapped, Odysseus must journey past the gates of Hades to save her. Falling in love with a Trojan princess, a bewitching woman who poses a deadly threat to both his homeland and Athena, won’t make his task any easier…
Drawing from classic Greek mythology, Athena’s Champion, first in the epic Olympus series, is perfect for fans of Madeline Miller and David Gemmell.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley and Canelo Digital Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Prince Odysseus of Ithaca travels to the Oracle at Pytho to be affirmed as his father’s heir. But what should have been merely a routine ritual takes a shocking turn as a closely guarded secret is revealed, resulting in Odysseus being cast out into the world alone – a world where monsters and worse are bent upon killing him merely for who he is. The goddess Athena offers him sanctuary, awakening him as a theios, or god-touched, plunging him into the world of the Olympians and their constant struggle for power and dominance.

First of all, if you’ve read anything Homer, this is not the Odysseus you will expect to see. Rather, the best part of this story is seeing him grow into the hero of legend. This Odysseus is untried, barely out of his teens, but still embodies the qualities we know him best for – intelligence, versatility, and most of all cunning. In Athena’s service, he is trained as a warrior, and is quickly caught up in one of her many schemes. Several familiar faces make an appearance in rather unexpected places – Odysseus’s old friend Menelaus of Mycenae, Theseus (Poseidon’s son and the slayer of the Minotaur), and more, but perhaps most crucial of all, Helen of Sparta. Being Zeus’ daughter, the Skyfather awakens her and her twin brother Polydeuces in a new scheme to tip the balance of power. The lines of war between the gods as seen during the Trojan war are already being drawn. The beauty contest of the goddesses and the following judgement of Paris (or Parassis in this book) plays out under very different circumstances and leads to Athena’s scheme to spirit the twins away – a scheme that goes horribly wrong, resulting in Odysseus joining the mission to retrieve the young Princess, who, due to her theia powers is currently the most prized asset in the Mediterranean.

Athena’s Champion is essentially the story before the Trojan War, the tales less talked about. There’s an interesting equation between Odysseus and Kyshanda (better known as Cassandra of Troy), and knowing what happens in the Trojan War, I’m curious to see how this is going to play out. Helen is evolving into a very fascinating, and no doubt crucial character in the sequel beyond the obvious and I’m looking forward to seeing how her character in going to be portrayed in events going forward. The story is told in first-person of course, but despite being first and foremost Odysseus’s journey, there are several other key players, all given their due importance in this fast paced and imaginative adventure that will have you hooked from page one.

Among the many mythological worlds I have delved into, Greek mythology ranks among my favourites. Athena’s Champion is definitely one more to add to that list. In some ways, Greek mythology has been turned on its head, but the strongest recognizable elements are still there, just twisted. Most of the events in the book line up with the major myths I know – it turns around and heads off in what seems to be a completely unrelated direction, but always loops back to the original tale, presenting it in an entirely new light – and somehow, it all lines up into a pretty great narrative!

Other reviews in this series:

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