Nenia Campbell's Reviews > The Age of Zeus

The Age of Zeus by James Lovegrove
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Mar 06, 14

it was amazing
bookshelves: science-fiction, omg-pagecount-wtf, x-series-bk-1
Read from February 12 to 15, 2012

"You are Titans. From now on, once you don your suits, that is what you become. Titans. Theocides. God killers" (117).

Ten years ago, They appeared out of nowhere and took control. They being, of course, the Olympians - the Greek gods of the myths in the flesh, and they are none-too-pleased with the way we've been handling things. There are some benefits to their appearance: crime has gone down, international conflict is at a new low, and vigilantes and religious extremists are rarer than hen's teeth. But all of this comes at a cost - humans live in perpetual terror of provoking the gods' wrath and being brutally killed... or consumed by one of their many horrible monsters that keep the peace.

Sam Akehurst is just one of many who has lost someone dear in one of the uprisings against the gods. When eccentric billionaire Regis Landesman sends her an invitation to Blearney Island for a chance to put a stop to the gods' doings once and for all, she is intrigued. As the invitees go around the table introducing themselves, it's clear that they all have two things in common - they each want revenge for one of their departed loved ones, and they are all ex-cop or ex-military. Not quite coincidence. Soon, Sam and eleven others are training to learn how to deal with the super-strength deities in their respective quests for vengeance with the help of their TITAN suits.

"The name for them is Total Immersion Tactical Armour with Nanotech. A somewhat clunky sobriquet, but we had to do it back to front, making the initial letters conform to the acronym" (58).


With Landesman's help - and money - Sam and her friends launch Titanomachy II: the second battle of the Titans vs. the Gods.

This book is a lot like Dan Simmons's Olympos and Illium duology. Except the gods aren't aliens (view spoiler). This is a good thing, though, as it makes everything much more terrifying and organic. For example, Lovegrove's descriptions of the monsters were just fantastic - it's clear that he put a lot of thought into how to make the creation of these monsters as plausible as possible. And he definitely succeeded. Here are some of my favorites:

The Hydra

"...the Hydra is a hellish lethal beast. Hard to kill, too. It's capable of regenerating lost or damaged tissue almost instantly. No one's sure how. Some biologists have posited that it has huge quantities of self-organising blastema cells, which give it an exaggerated form of the ability of many reptiles and amphibians to re-grow lost legs or tails" (157).


The Gorgons

One look from a Gorgon, one moment's exposure to those slitted serpentine eyes, and...

Well, the evidence of what would happen was all around, plain to see. On pavements, in parks, street corners, temple steps, everywhere - the statues. Statues of people, some cowering or shying away, others with their arms extended imploringly, still others frozen in the act of fleeing, looking over their shoulders. The statues appeared to be made of stone but in fact were composed of a carbon compound that had the ashy, powdery texture of pumice. Samples tested by scientists had shown that this substance was living tissue after it had been scorched by a sudden, massive burst of heat from the inside out, desiccated and hardened to a rocklike texture (229).


The Minotaur

"...But the Minotaur isn't just a monster. I don't think any of the monsters are just monsters, at least not the part-human ones. I think they're more than that. I think, buried in them, there's something else - a personality, a person even. I think they can be reasoned with, engaged with, won over" (308).


That quote is Sam's, by the way, who is one of the best female characters written by men that I've encountered in a fantasy/sci-fi novel since Eleanor Arroway in Carl Sagan's Contact. She's powerful, assertive, compassionate, intellectual, inquisitive, hard-working, feminine, and flawed, bless your heart, James Lovegrove. I love me a flawed protagonist and Sam has real problems that she attempts to work through throughout the course of the novel. I've added her to my "escape from the kitchen" shelf on goodreads: a shelf I've made that's dedicated to extraordinary women doing extraordinary things.

Here are some of my favorite Sam quotes:

"You can't worry about me...You mustn't. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself. If you start getting all protective, especially when we're on an op, it won't help anyone and could compromise the mission....When we're alone, just the two of us, we can be ourselves, but when we're working, I'm Tethys, you're Hyperion, we're Titans, and you don't fret over me and you certainly don't countermand me. Otherwise this - us - what we are in private - will have to end. Are we straight on that?" (312)


And,

Landesman: "Although, one could argue, could one not, that a leader is entitled to focus on his own safety, to the exclusion of all else, in order to be able to continue to lead."

Sam: "No. One could not. That's not leadership as I understand it" (403).


And,

Zeus: "Are leaders not the mouthpieces for nations?"

Sam: "Not always....And only a totalitarian dictator would make that assumption" (526).


And this one, which earns her 100,000 coolness points,

"Hope's a pesky thing. You only have to think of Pandora. Hope won't stay in the box. Once it's out, it's out, and nothing you can do will put it back or stop it from spreading" (567).


The Age of Zeus is fun to read if only for the reason that you get to read about cool armor and monsters getting blown up. That's the war/military-sci-fi aspect of it, and it's definitely no small contributor to the 5-star rating. But it's also a fabulous bit of speculative fiction, a precautionary tale about power and those who abuse it, and that messing around with science isn't always such a good idea (following the tradition of Jurassic Park). Sam is an amazing character, and so are her friends - most notably the Aussie, Barrington, who cracked me up. My only beef is that Lovegrove killed off several of my favorite characters... but seeing as how their deaths were not in vain and furthered the plot, I suppose I can't complain.

Excellent book. Simply excellent. I'd recommend this to my guy and gal pals alike. I can't wait to get my hands on The Age of Ra and The Age of Odin. It's taking me right back to my Everworld days of high school. Read it!!
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