Last year, I stumbled across Jordanna Max Brodsky’s first Olympus Bound Series book, The Immortals, which is a mystery that, you guessed it, involves some of the Greek gods. However, unlike the white robe and laurel-wearing gods of old, these are the gods in their more modern and diminished state. Well, some are more diminished than others since their powers centered around things that most humans no longer worship, namely virginity and hunting, the two aspects of the main character’s divinity.
If you haven’t guessed who the main character is by that, I’ll tell you. It’s Artemis, the Goddess of the hunt and perpetual virgin. One of those epithets isn’t too bad to live with. The other makes living in the modern U.S. a bit… uncomfortable. In the first book, Artemis, who now goes as Selene DiSilva, a one-woman bounty hunter and protector of women, is hunting down the members of a mystery cult. If you don’t know what a mystery cult is, I’ll tell you. They were schools of religious practices that were popular during Greco-Roman antiquity (1st-4th century b.c.) who’s rites and rituals were kept secret from non-initiates. They kinda went out of fashion when Constantine the Great ordered the destruction of their temples and his son went one step further and ordered that their rituals be stopped under pain of death. Sounds familiar, but, moving on.
New York is full of crazy ritualistic murders, right? So, what’s so special about these? Well, they aren’t just any old rituals. These rituals are designed to bring back the power of the gods, and they’re working. Slowly, but they’re working. The draw back being the deaths of various New Yorkers in gruesome and pain filled ways.
DiSilva, Artemis in case you forgot, must work to find out who the members of the mystery cult are before it’s too late. Even if it means she has to give up her own immortality to do it. Aiding her in her mission is the annoying yet charming Theo Shultz, a professor of ancient Greek culture, myths and antiquities, and his equally intelligent and rather amusing friend, Gabriela Jimenez, an anthropologist who works at the Natural History Museum. Together, they must figure out one) what they mystery cult is (there are hundreds of recorded ones and even more unrecorded and fringe ones), two) what their ceremonies are reenacting and why, and three) who’s behind it.
The first book is rather amusing. The interactions between Theo and Selene are funny. The book moves rather quickly between action and scholarly work, so it feels more like an action thriller and less like an introductory course into Greek mythology and religious antiquity. I’m not overly interested in the progressing relationship between Theo and Selene, but I understand it’s necessity for the plot dynamics.
Now that we’ve got the first book out of the way, let’s move to book two, Winter of the Gods. A rather ominous title since it gives the suggestion that the time of the gods is about to end. Of course, if you think about it, their time was already at an end and they’ve been relegated to being just your average schmuck living and working like everyone else. Like I said earlier, some of the gods have fared better than the others. Obviously, the god of Love, no, not her, her son, is doing just fine and shows up in book two. Also, the god of medicine and messengers is doing fine as well, and also makes and appearance. Some of the gods, the older ones, are just living to die since they no longer have much of their power. Selene isn’t either of these. She’s just dealing with the hand she’s been dealt by the fates, those bitches.
This second book introduces us to yet another of the mystery cults, the mithraists (it takes them a bit of time to figure out this one, but I figured out who the bad guy leader was pretty early on) a short-lived cult that worshiped the god Mithras. This cult is far more complex than the one from the last book, so be prepared to take notes on the syndexioi (initiates) and their various roles and ranks in the cult. Unlike the last mystery cult, this one is Persian inspired but centered in Rome, and that’s all the detail I can give you. Save for the purpose of their cult, which is to raise Mithras as Jesus since their cult centers around Mithras being the holy trinity like Jesus. There’s a huge mythology lesson contained in this book that will either open your mind or turn it to mush depending on you interests.
The best part about this book are the interactions between the gods and the mortals. Their amusing at times and tear jerkers at others. Once one remembers that the ancient gods were based off of human experiences and human understandings of the world around them, these interactions become more understandable.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Winter of the Gods delves further into the relationship between Theo and Selene, but also between Selene and her family. The complex and often times awkward relationships between siblings are amplified as the ancient Greeks had a different view on what was and was not socially acceptable in relation to marriages. Think Caligula. Both books are quick reads, are entertaining, and educational. I’d definitely recommend them. For this second book, I’d give it a solid B. – 7.5/10
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine