Third in Saberhagen’s fantasy/far-future SF series (Ariadne’s Web, 2000). The gods, we eventually learn, are at war with the Giants—and they’re in danger of defeat: the Giants have a mysterious magic weapon that scrambles the brains of gods, sometimes permanently. So Zeus arranges to develop his own secret weapon, fathering Hercules upon the mortal woman Alcmene. Hercules, a young man of ordinary stature but godlike strength and invulnerability, performs the anticipated Labors and deeds, swatting huge lions into left field with his olivewood club, slaying the noxious Hydra, battling Death to a tie, and rescuing the pirate Theseus from Hell. But his instructors are the messenger god Hermes and the famous artisan Daedalus; and Hercules—knowing nothing of the God-Giant war—can’t understand why his divine father refuses to speak with him. Neither can he understand why most of the Centaurs want him dead, or why their blood is poisonous to him.
After a strong start (The Face of Apollo, 1998), this subsequently disappointing series has subsided into fairly aimless twiddling.