This first novel of the Song of Greece series brings ancient history to life as religions and cultures clash, resulting in a great deal of blood, toil, tears and sweat.
In-Shushinak is a merchant-priest from Sumer who returns to the pastoral Greek village where he spent time as a child, and he offers both his goods and his monotheistic religion to the earthy locals. The people worship an earth goddess whose sacred grove is guarded by the Chaos-King Phanes, who has fought and killed many men who have attempted to steal his godhood. Phanes and his wife, Ilithyia, were once mere mortals, but now, they’re deemed so holy and powerful that villagers haven’t seen their faces in years. A chance encounter between the Chaos-King’s young daughters and In-Shushinak’s teenage student Hypsistos begins a chain of events that will change everyone’s lives forever. Phanes’ eldest daughter, Parthenia, plans to use her feminine wiles to coerce Hypsistos into overthrowing her father and making her queen. However, the locals fear that the foreigner will introduce his new religion to the sacred grove. Giarmo (The Adventures of Freefall O’Keefe, 1997) does a good job imitating the dense, detailed prose of old texts, making readers feel as though they are reading a story written long ago. In fact, after a while, the repetitive metaphors grow tiring—particularly those used to describe characters (the emerald-eyed woman, the shaven-headed youth and so on)—and, as a result, many scenes feel overlong. Other readers may be turned off by vividly described, unsavory aspects of the ancient culture, including graphic violence and incestuous and pedophilic sexuality. However, the story will still likely keep many readers engaged due to its high-stakes action and intriguing cultural debate.
An uneven story of ancient Greece that, at its best, may capture readers’ imaginations.