Friday, September 14, 2018

Storm of the Gods (Areios Brothers #1) by A. R. Braun

The Greek Gods returned 30 years ago after centuries of dormancy after they were drained in the big battle against the Titans. They have set up their new land in California.

Derek is a scion of Ares, carrying the legacy of his powerful war god sire, along with his brother follow their role to capture and defeat dangerous monsters. And capture over rogue scions

Including the heir to the mysteriously missing Athena and four other powerful Scions. But as he gets closer he realises things are far from simple and world changing devastation could follow him making the wrong choice. But does he dare oppose Ares? Can he even oppose him? Who can fight the god of war?

Greek mythology! I am sold. Sold sold sold. Throw me some good ol’ ancient god mythology and I’m always one board. Doubly so when you get all the research in place and go all out for the research pulling in figures like Cassandra and random Greek monsters (so many Greek monsters) and generally working on their characters while adding a heavy dash of original concepts as well? Sold sold sold

So we have a world where after several centuries of dormancy after fighting the Titans, the Olympians have woken up and are back. And Not Amused that humanity has sort of forgotten them or, at very least, has stopped worshipping them. Since the Greek Gods are not exactly known for their humility, gentle persuasion or generally not being capricious, short tempered and seethingly insecure jealous sex maniacs, this did not go down well.

The Greek gods chose their territory - California - and divided it between themselves as new regions for the new Greek nation state. It is inferred that the US objected to this. It’s also heavily inferred that Zeus was having None of that and there’s something of a detent between “Neo Vasileio” and America

This is one element about the world building I like - we have that excellent balance between giving us lots of information so we know what is happening in this world, who is who, what the stakes are, what powers are being thrown around, etc etc but not so much that we’re inundated with unnecessary facts. Even though I kinda really really want those facts. I want to know what the reaction was with the greater world. I want to know exactly what Zeus did. I want Zeus and Hades and Apollo to be more than extremely briefly appearing characters. I want to meet all the Greek gods who have territory that we haven’t met yet - Artemis, Aphrodite, Hermes, Poseidon, Demeter, Haphaestus, Hestia, Hera, Perseophone. I want to learn all of this

The Greek gods have their descendents who all have powers based on their ancestral deity (lots of magic, a chosen element and general skill set) with the most powerful of those descendents being the heirs to their Olympian legacy. This comes with lots of shiny magic, lots of shiny powers and lots of really epic, shiny fight scenes

And our hero, Derek; powerful descendent of Aries line. Except he doesn’t like killing people, at all. And he fights tooth and nail against the berserker, magical charged rage that drives him to violence. His greatest skill is fighting and he really doesn’t want to and his overwhelming goal is to keep his brother safe - his brother who is regarded in contempt

Ok, Derek is eleven levels of badass, but his defining features are not his combat abilities which he almost regards as shameful, but his deep love for his brother, Liam, his care for those around him and his desire to protect them - and not in a patronising away. As he gets closer to Selena he becomes protective and caring without smothering - he knows she and Liam can look after themselves, doesn’t try to keep them away from the action but does try to help and shield them when he can. It’s a nice balance between protective without being patronising.

The plot has lots of conflict both physical and directional as they struggle to recover ancient Olympian artefacts that can be used for various nefarious means. Resurrecting the Titans, giving the Olympians ultimate power, again, killing the Olympians… there’s lots of terrible things that can be done with them. And the big question is whose agenda do they trust? Which god? Any god for that matter? Who is actually right? Whose agenda can they trust? And I like that Derek doesn’t just run with “the god I like” or “the god who isn’t Ares because I hate him and he’s an arsehole” but thinks it through as best he can even when faced with so little choice because they’re just so powerful.

Through that we have some good characters and interactions with his brother Liam - who constantly drives him to be better than he is and resist his worst impulses and powers. We have Selena with her great faith in Athena, her goddess, her growing links to Derek and yes there’s a hint of romance there but it’s not nearly there yet so instead we just have powerful mutual respect instead. She struggles with her real identity and fear for Athena as her prime motivations

I can’t emphasise how much I like how despite all these story changes the plot still remembers its mythology. Like Athena is being cast as the good, decent Olympian but Derek is quick to remember that Athena turned a woman into a giant spider because she was good at weaving and, like all the Olympians, she can be prone to epic pettiness when pressed.

We do have more minor characters which are diverse - the heir of Zeus is a Black bisexual man. And part of me has to point out his highly sexual and promiscuous which is something of a trope with bisexual people - and Black people. However he’s also the heir of Zeus. Zeus’s legacy is not one of austerity and sexual restraint. He may also be one of the more powerful of them, given the fact he’s the heir to Zeus. Which would be seen better if we saw more of him though. We also have Corey, a gay White man and descendent (not heir) of Hermes… unlike the others he kind of starts with a pre-existing relationship with Derek and Liam. The problem with this is that none is established - it’s just assume he’ll turn up extremely briefly to use his powers as a magical taxi without actually incorporating him into the mission or establish his power at all. And he is more present than the heir to poseidon, a woman of colour who may be establishing a relationship with Liam but, again, appears briefly - but at least has a solid part of the mission and is a power in her own right.

These characters all have a lot more potential to be more as well so i’m hopeful for future books in the series.

Which covers everything really - I’m so hopeful for this book. I’m hopeful for Derek, I’m hopeful for his relationship. I’m hopeful for his storyline, for this world setting for the gods and the so many storylines that could be developed, that could grow and change and become so much more. There’s so much to explore - I can’t wait to read more