Bender’s debut novel is an epic youngadult fantasy that incorporates classical lore, intonations and references into an ode to the lasting greatness of Greek myth.
The not-quite-but-almost-16-year-old Thrace is a high school sophomore, an unknowing son of Ares, God of War, and quite possibly a prophesied savior known as the “Seed of Destruction.” Together with his best friend, Parker, and a helpful oread named Anthia, Thrace is drawn into an epic quest by the machinations of the goddess Aphrodite and the despotic plots of Ares, Slaughterer of Men and self-proclaimed ruler of everything. Thrace’s extended immortal family, however, is not making it easy, as the other sons of Ares—including both those from classical mythology, like Phobos and Deimius, and those of Bender’s own invention, like Cresphontes—take an instant disliking to him. With the other gods of Olympus bound in slumber, it is up to Thrace; his newfound mentor, the centaur Sophos; and Thrace’s friends to escape Ares’ plots, rescue Thrace’s mother from the enchantments of Aphrodite and discover, if they can, just what the prophecy about the Seed of Destruction might mean for them and the world. While the characters are engaging and the plot moves at a swift pace, one of the book’s strongest parts is also its Achilles’ heel: the sheer weight of classical myth and lore that Bender infuses into the story. On one hand, it reads very much like a translated Greek epic poem, but on the other, many of the frequent metaphors are made unwieldy by endless allusions to Greek myth. Thrace’s adventures are also very mythic in nature, and the variations on ancient tales that Bender weaves into Thrace’s tale are just similar enough to their root material to be recognizable without being mere retreads.
A respectable first effort, likely to appeal to fans of Greek myth and students of classical antiquity, but one that labors under the weight of history as much as it draws from it.