Title: Sacred Bride
Series: Olympus Series #3
Author: David Hair & Cath Mayo
Genre: Mythological/Historical Fiction
Published: October 14th, 2019 (Canelo)
Synopsis: Prince Odysseus and the daemon Bria must penetrate the haunted caverns beneath Dodona, seeking a way to save their doomed nation, Achaea, from the might of Troy.
The startling revelation that follows will set Odysseus on his most daunting mission yet, as he seeks to reunite the divided Achaean kingdoms before the rapacious Trojans strike. His journey will pit him against wrathful gods and legendary heroes, in a deadly contest for the hand of Helen of Sparta, the daughter of Zeus, upon whose choice the fate of Achaea rests…
Six months after the Theban War, Odysseus and Bria find themselves infiltrating the oracular site of Dodona which has been taken over by priests of Zeus who have imprisoned the priestesses of Hera in the mountain. Their goal – to get a last few answers from the oracle before silencing it permanently so that the Trojans can’t use it. The prophecies Odysseus receives are no less ominous than previous ones, but seem to show a ray of hope for Achaea, if a faint one. Adding to that the crucial knowledge he has gained, that prophecies are not cast in stone, finds Odysseus setting off on another quest – unite the Achaean kings under the High King’s banner and secure the marriages of the daughters of King Tyndareus of Sparta, Helen and Clytemnestra, in Achaea’s favour – something easier said than done, especially in the case of Helen, who, due to being a theia and the daughter of Zeus is a coveted prize on both sides of the Aegean.
I’m so glad to finally read this! I was so disappointed when I missed the ARC request period and it took forever for my library to get the book. This latest installment in the Olympus series focusses on the princesses of Sparta – Helen and Clytemnestra as it becomes clear to all the main players in this power struggle between Achaea and Troy that whomever holds the two girls gains a huge, if not the deciding advantage in the war.
The story is moving into more familiar territory when it comes to what I know of the stories and I was curious to see which version of events the authors would choose to go with. I really enjoy Helen’s characterization in this series, and particularly in this book. Usually portrayed as no more than the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’, or ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’, this Helen instead has a distinctive personality, and even more surprising, a dislikable one. Odysseus remains my favourite though and is growing closer and closer to the legend we know with how he has learnt to read the people around him and convince them to see things his way. I’m also starting to get really curious as to who Bria really is, especially after the scene where they run into Hermes.
The other thing I liked about this book is that the Odysseus/Kyshanda relationship seems to be finally over for good. Considering just how cunning Odysseus has become over the past two books, it never felt believable that he would give away valuable information so easily to Kyshanda who is, at the end of everything, an enemy. Her role is by no means done though, and the scene at the end seems to indicate she will still have a part to play in this tale. On the other hand, I really like how his equation with Arnacia, or rather, Penelope, is coming along as it feels much more natural. The layer of godly politics influencing everything continues to grow ever more complex. The last couple of chapters were certainly a shocker and made for an excellent (not to mention dramatic) climax for this book as Odysseus managed to force the gods themselves into making a choice between Achaea and Troy.
The only downside I’m starting to see in this series is how slow the pace is in terms of the timeline. Although the narrative itself is marvellous and thoroughly engrossing, when you look back at the end of the book, it covers barely half a dozen significant events, which can get a little annoying considering that what is arguably the best stuff is yet to come. That is of course, assuming that this is not a trilogy any longer – if it was, that was a terribly unresolved ending and I would probably drop my rating lower in that case.
The distinctly modern voice all the characters have has definitely grown on me, and as with the earlier books, does not detract from the story at all. Overall, this was another wonderful installment in this series, and an action packed, thrilling read. A must read for fans of Greek mythology, this series continues to be a refreshing and unique take on the events surrounding the Trojan war, and I have my fingers crossed for a sequel. Highly recommended!