Athine Verses: The Beginning (The Daughters of Ares Chronicles #1), by Shannon McRoberts (2013 revision)

Athine 1

“Athine Verses: The Beginning” is an engaging novella, and start to the “Daughters of Ares Chronicles”. (“Ares” is the god of multiple present-tense plural forms of “to be” (sorry–bad English Major joke)).

Actually, Ares is the Greek God of War, and Athine is one of his daughters. From her birth, she has been told she’s destined to be a protector, potentially even ruler, of all the lands. She wants no part of it. She wants her own adventures, to run from land to land, date boys, and drink beer by the lake, like those hot girls in that Kid Rock video.

Okay, I’m sorry again.

The thing about Athine is, while she’s been told of her destiny as a protector and possible ruler, she’s also discovered that she has the power to kill immortals. One prophecy has her killing all sorts of gods, and destroying their sacred homes, as she falls under the power of an evil witch.

Her half-sister is Harmonia, another daughter of Ares, who has loved and cared for Athine, despite them having different mothers. When Athine falls under the power of the evil witch, she is told that Harmonia wants to destroy the gods’ realm, and wreak general havoc on the world. Thus, it becomes Athine’s devotion to kill Harmonia, before Harmonia has the chance to destroy everything.

So whom to believe? Which prophecy is correct?

So often in fantasy novels, where two prophecies predict opposite results, the actual truth lay somewhere in the middle.

Not here. The truth is something completely different, something that will cause both Harmonia and Athine to fight what they’ve been led to believe, trust each other, and work together to save the realm.

Author Shannon McRoberts has created a beautiful mythology here, a combination of ancient Greek folklore, elves, witches, as well as strange lands other than just Mount Olympus.

One thing I love is that there is no wasted time. In a hundred-page novella, there’s not a lot of time for simple walking around. McRoberts does an excellent job of getting us drawn into the story, moving us through the action, and reaching the climax in record time. Again, I loved this. She describes a place, and trusts the reader’s imagination to envision it as he or she will.

My only complaint is that this story could use a bit more room to spread out. Not because it’s so chockablock with action (of which there’s plenty), but because there are so many characters and places to keep track of, and it can be daunting. If the novella were even half again as long, I think it would be easier to keep the characters straight, since we could have more time to become acquainted.

The important thing is that we have well-drawn portraits of Harmonia and Athine, and they are the two characters carrying the story. (Also, Ares has more children with more women than your average NBA player)

A tip: at the end of “Athine Verses” The Beginning,” there are character and place listings. You might want to bookmark those, just in case you forget who somebody is or how they fit into the story.

These are minor faults.

“Athine Verses: The Beginning” is addictive, a compulsively readable and well-told story, unique and interesting. I can’t wait to delve into book two, just to see where Ms. McRoberts takes us next.

Recommended (especially for younger fantasy aficionados)

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About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
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