Books for the Greek mythology connoisseur
I was fortunate enough to receive free (AR) copies of the first two books in the Sons of Apollo series, and have fallen in love. My review is based on book 1 – Mate for a Centaur and book 2- Ixion’s Curse. Follow the links at the bottom of the page to grab your copies and follow the author.
A brief summary of the plot – The Oracle of Delphi (mother to centaurs and one of Apollo’s consorts) has prophesised the destinies of the centaur brothers Palaimon and Petraios, which include love, betrayal and the future of the centaur race. A competition for the hand of the Princess Nais brings men from all over Greece as well as the much hated and feared centaurs to compete. But contrary to popular believe it isn’t simply lust and love that drives the centaurs to seek a mate. To break Ixion’s Curse means to sire female progeny, something the centaurs cannot do. But perhaps fate may yet smile upon them.
Norma Sue O’Neil clearly has a passion for both Greek mythology/history and the centaur species, as the topic is exceedingly well researched, detailed and packed full of references that transport you to ancient Greece.
I myself love mythology (Greek in particular) however, I did find some terminology in the books to be very specific which may not be accessible to some readers, for instance references to different types of containers and clothing. Having said that, the terms and references really help to immerse you into that world, and in context it isn’t too difficult to picture the items nor are the references too distracting.
I really enjoyed the sections that focused on the gods in particular. O’Neil deftly weaves the gods into the plot and I loved their characterisation. The interactions between the gods was a joy to read and the descriptions of how they influence the lives of mortals was fun to read. And the work put in to develop the Centaurs, their individuality and their culture is wonderful. You’re sure to have your favourite. Mine is Isoples, he’s a bit of a rogue 😊
O’Neil has a particular talent for threading strands of different well known and obscure ancient Greek tales within her plot. These moments make the book sing. I especially enjoyed certain turns of phrase that O’Neil uses, which are beautifully crafted and the use of language associated with the gods to describe physical characteristics of the world, for example, Helios’ chariot descending on the horizon – for the sun setting, really help to connect the world to the cultural and religious beliefs of the time. The gods of Olympus are real, it isn’t a metaphor. And I really like this.
The first book felt a little slow to get started as there was a lot of build up to the contest for princess Nais, however I did enjoy the tension it created between the characters.
There are times within book 2 where I felt the progression of the story was slow as certain points seem to be repeated throughout. However there is a lot of politics and culture to wrap your head around so, it is good to have your memory jogged now and then.
The depiction of the contest I felt was really well handled. Numerous accounts of sporting events could easily become a bore to read, however O’Neil gave us action, passion, drama and history all at once, which was a pleasure.
One aspect of the story that I picked up on more so in Ixion’s Curse than I did in MfaC is the political nature of the story. O’Neil has managed to create an historical story that deals with equality/prejudice/feminism and make it relatable/contemporary and more importantly enjoyable, without being too intense.
There are some dramatic and emotional moments in the story which really pulled me into the world and got me invested in the characters. I audibly gasped at some moments in equal parts jubilation and sorrow.
One more thing that I love about O’Neil’s books is the cover art. As well as being the author O’Neil is the illustrator and this just adds another dimension to the love and passion evidenced in her work.
I will certainly be reading book 3 when it is available as I must know if the centaurs will meet their destinies.
If you love O’Neil’s artwork as much as I do, she also has published two colouring books with centaur and mermaid artwork.