Fiction Reviews

The Age of Zeus

(2010) James Lovegrove, Solaris, 7.99, pbk, 678pp, ISBN 978-1-906-73568-5


As the novel opens, it is a decade since the Greek Gods, the Olympians, appeared to appoint themselves as rulers of the world. Using their powers, they have defeated armies and devastated cities. They have recreated monsters such as the Minotaur and the hydra and populations suffer their depredations. Now mankind is under their heel. Sam Akehurst, who used to be a police officer in London is invited with eleven other people to an island bunker. All of them have lost friends and family at the hands of the Gods or their monsters. Now they all are offered chance to strike back as part of a resistance movement. Within their new armoured battle suits, they will be renamed the Titans. Once powered up, they determine to first hunt down the monsters and then go for the Olympians.

This story does have a great premise, but I had some difficulties with the way the narrative plays out. Having Sam Akehurst as the central viewpoint character means that the novel largely follows the story through what she experiences. This means she has to listen to a lot of explanations and back-story, which I thought could have been avoided if the character viewpoints had been more flexible. There is at least one scene that feels like the villain has to explain things to the heroine, because the reader needs some details to be filled in.

The plot is also based around a recurring aspect of Greek mythology. (I am not saying which to avoid spoilers.) There is a painting of an event seen at the base that foreshadows its later relevance. However, in making this particular theme part of the narrative, the story begins to strain; it feels less mythic and more of an attempt to link everything together. It also means the narrative has to push itself into leading up to a twist, when it does not need one.

The action scenes are exciting and the story does make the reader want to keep turning the pages. However, you are left with the feeling that the need to fit the story into a conventional good-against-evil plot has resulted in losing some potentially interesting aspects. When the twelve people who will become the Titans, describe their experiences under the Olympians in the opening chapters, it felt as if these should have been presented in the present tense as opposed to reminisces. As the novel aims to give a fair share of time to each of the twelve Titans, the Olympians, and the monsters of Greek myths as well as fit in several battle scenes, what we are left with is entertaining, but trying to do too much at once.

David Allkins

See also Peter Tyers' take on The Age of Zeus.

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