O’Connor makes out his latest Olympian as a tragic hero “who has had many loves, but whose loves seldom prosper.” To say the least.
No sooner are the frowning lad and his twin sister, Artemis, welcomed to Olympus by their father, Zeus, than Apollo is off to avenge his mother, Leto. He riddles Python, the humongous serpent who had harried Leto at Hera’s instigation, with fiery arrows. He then proceeds himself to harry the virgin nymph Daphne until she is transformed into a laurel, gruesomely flense the satyr Marsyas for claiming to be a better musician, kill his bosom buddy Hyacinth, prince of Sparta, with a misguided discus, and get Artemis to shoot the unfaithful mother of his own not-yet-born son, Asklepios. Finally, he later sees his miraculously rescued son himself killed for creating, as Hades puts it, “a glitch in the system” by healing so many mortals. These and other incidents are narrated, sometimes in Classical meter or rhymed prose, by the nine worshipful Muses—lissome figures who pose and dance gracefully through the panels, then gather at the end to explain why their immortal patron’s unique blend of gifts and faults is profoundly inspirational: “The most divine god is also the most human.” As in previous series entries, the backmatter includes commentary, analysis, reading lists, and discussion questions.
Apollo’s darker tendencies overshadow his divine radiance here but, as usual, make better tales. (Olympian family tree) (Graphic mythology. 8-14)