Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Goddess War, #2
Released: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 341 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Ares, God of War, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She's ready to wage a war of her own, and she's never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she'll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace.Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can't have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite.The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra's hate will get them ALL killed.The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can't, fates far worse than death await.
A few years ago, when Kendare Blake first published Anna Dressed in Blood and completely won us over, I never dreamed that her books could become even better. Anna was such a spectacular debut that it left very little room for improvement. And yet here we are, in the middle of a new series that is even more beautiful, more mature, written with a surer hand and far greater control over the narrative.
Mortal Gods is exactly what the title suggests – it brings the story of Greek gods divided into two factions and warring among themselves, both groups desperately fighting for survival. Athena leads one side, our side, and Ares leads the other. Their conflicts are merciless and bloody and their only goal is to survive and get revenge.
Just because Athena, Hermes and Odysseus are on our side does not mean that they are in the right. This entire series exists in a morally gray area. Ancient Gods, no matter how well-adapted to our times, have a whole different set of values and moral principles. Human life is not as significant for them, and scruples are often just another word in the dictionary. Even mortal characters like Cassandra and Andy are reincarnations of important mortals from ancient times, and the more they remember their old lives, the more they adapt to the gods’ way of thinking.
Still, one can’t help but feel sympathy for a physically weakened Athena while she coughs out feathers from her lungs, or our poor, likeable Hermes, who eats and eats and eats, but is never full or strong like he used to be. The torture of each god is highly symbolic. For instance, according to the legend, Athena once punished her crow familiar by turning his beautiful white feathers to black and now she is tortured by feathers sprouting painfully from her body. Hermes, god of feasts and banquets (among other things) is never sated and he’s getting thinner by the day.
While Cassandra grieves and despairs, Athena and Odysseus are dancing around each other, never quite reaching a common ground. The love of these two is so painfully obvious, and yet there are so many barriers between them, far too many things that stand in the way of their true feelings, Athena’s pride among them.
Mortal Gods is even darker and bloodier than Antigoddess, which is no small thing, believe me. Blake is known for the vivid imagery she creates with seeming ease. Her descriptions are always detailed and precise, and the emotional reactions she provokes are off the charts. She always achieves the desired effect, be it sympathy, horror or even disgust.
Brava, Ms. Blake. I can’t wait for the next book.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.