Lore - well done fantasy based on Greek mythology

  • Posted on: 11 June 2021
  • By: Sevhina

Lore Book CoverNine of the Greek gods turned their power against humanity when we started to worship other gods so Zeus punished them by restricting their power and binding them to the Agon. Every seven years the Agon begins and those gods become mortal and walk the Earth for seven days so that the descendants of the greatest Greek heroes can hunt them. Any human who delivers a killing blow inherits the slain god's power and thus becomes bound to the Agon themselves. Lore is the last mortal descendant of Perseus and as a child she was determined to win glory in the Agon until her family was brutally murdered by the new Ares. She might dream of revenge but killing him means becoming hunted herself so instead she hopes to escape the Agon. Alas, the Agon isn't done with her yet. The new Ares is still hunting for her, an old friend is in desperate danger, and the most cunning of the old gods, Athena, offers Lore a deal she can't resist. 

They are called Blade Traitors, those who work with the gods, and it always ends badly. In return for Lore's assistance for the week of the Agon, Athena vows to kill the new Ares so that Lore can have her revenge without being stuck as a god herself. They swear an oath that binds their fates together. If one dies so does the other. Having been betrayed by almost everyone else their only allies are Lore's mundane roommate and her childhood friend who has problems of his own. The new Ares has supposedly discovered a way to end the Agon forever and claim the power of all the gods combined. To stop him they must find the legendary Aegis, the shield Perseus made from the head of Medusa, but unfortunately it was last seen in the possession of the new Ares himself. Lore also wants to end the Agon but should she help Athena win if it means giving her limitless power on Earth?

The focus on the Greek myths and legends is very well done and makes a nice change for those interested in mythology but tired of the more commercialized versions found in many fantasies. Clash of the Titans anyone? Bracken uses those legends to build the complex character of Athena and her relationship with Lore. This is the Athena that turned her priestess into a gorgon after she was raped by Poseidon and later helped Perseus to kill her so he could put her head on his shield. On the other hand she was also the patron goddess of crafting, mentor of heroes, and as Pallas Athena gained the title Defender of Cities.

Lore is a more typical young adult heroine with a tragic past, survivors guilt, and a desire to stop the endless killing. This is a self contained storyline where Lore gradually confronts the loose ends from her past then goes on to fight for the future. Bracken manages to keep the smaller story arcs from being completely obvious although there are plenty of hints for readers who are paying attention. There is plenty of violence throughout, and a few severed heads, but its not described in gory detail. Its a well written book, more nuanced than Percy Jackson or The Hunger Games which made it more enjoyable for an older reader but with its youthful point of view and moral dilemmas it still qualifies as young adult fantasy. 

I haven't read the popular Darkest Minds series but have read Brightly Woven which was one of Bracken's earlier books and thought it was reasonably good. Fryda Wolff's narration is rated at 4+ stars on Audible as is the book overall. Reviews are all over the place regarding the mythology and character depth.