A righteous, feminist demi-goddess rocks ancient Greece like a hurricane in this boisterous fantasy adventure.
Larentina may be a Spartan princess—raised by King Alcaeus, though her parentage is a matter of controversy—but her status in that male-dominated warrior society seems limited to second-class citizenship. Fortunately, Larentina is no ordinary girl—strong and fearless (and extremely fetching in armor), she undertakes the grueling military training normally reserved for Spartan boys. She gets help from her brother Lycurgus, her smitten pack-leader Androcles, an Israelite servant and a white wolf familiar. But it’s her unique fighting style, involving the very gory disembowelment and beheading of opponents thrice her size (and when that fails, summoning whirlwinds and lightning bolts) that impresses people—including the god Zeus, who starts to believe rumors that he fathered Larentina during a drunken assignation he can’t quite recall. The battlefield exploits of this “She Wolf” make the Spartans reconsider male chauvinism, but what really does the trick is Larentina’s practice of telekinetically spanking men who publicly disrespect women. Then she takes her act on the road, barging into the all-male Olympic Games and helping out mythological figures, especially put-upon females such as Medusa, Persephone and the Amazons. Alas, sisterhood is not all-powerful and jealous goddesses—the catty Hera, the slutty Aphrodite—scheme to destroy the upstart before she storms Olympus itself. A cross between Xena: Warrior Princess and Clash of the Titans, the story is a cartoonish pastiche of Greek mythology, laced with anachronisms, stilted dialogue, over-ripe melodrama and gratuitous nudity—but then, what Greek myth doesn’t have those things? (OK, the cameo by the prophet Jeremiah is a novelty.) The important point is that Coker (A Daughter’s Duty, 2009) makes Larentina a vigorous, likeable heroine whom we can’t help cheering on as she roots out gender inequality with fire and sword.
An entertaining epic with a twist of empowerment.