Saturday, October 3, 2015

#Saturday Review & Excerpt - Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Goddess War # 2
Format: Paperback, 341 pages
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: ARC Trade
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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.

Mortal Gods is the second installment in the Goddess War trilogy by author Kendare Blake. What you should know. Mortal Gods picks up 3 months after the heart breaking ending to Antigoddess which left prophetess and God Killer Cassandra Weaver in mourning over the loss of Apollo/Aidan. The Goddess War began with Gods from the Trojan War Era (Athena, Hermes, Demeter, Hera, Aphrodite, and Poseidon<--deceased) dying from various bizarre ailments which are graphically cataloged down to the owl feathers being pulled from Athena's mouth and Demeter's situation. Aphrodite has since collected the God of War, Ares, to her side while another God, Artemis, was last seen in one of Cassandra's dreams running for her life.

Let's talk about what's happening to the Gods for a moment. While the war itself is important, it pales to what is happening to these Gods and why and who is actually responsible for their predicaments. Athena while not as bad as others, continues to cough out feathers. Hermes eats as much as he pleases, yet can never be filled. Hermes is such a wonderful character. I definitely feel for him. Can you just imagine eating and eating and never being full? Ares and Aphrodite are also experiencing their own form of Hell on earth. Apparently, the only way to stop this suffering from happening, is to win the war which will presumably bring things back to normal to the winning side.

It is apparent that Athena and Hermes are up against some very powerful gods/goddesses who will do anything they can to remain prevalent without much, if any, support behind them. Nobody knows where Zeus is. What about Gods like Hades, Dionysus, and Hephaestus? Where are they? Whose side would they choose if they were found? Athena's or Aphrodite's?  It is also apparent that not everything is what readers have come to believe. Trust me, I am not going to spoil the SURPRISE that Blake tosses readers way or the stab me in the heart cliffhanger. Athena has searched for weapons that she could use to stop Hera's machinations in her tracks. These extraordinary humans/weapons are Odysseus, Hector (Henry), and Andromache (Andie). 

But, Cassandra (Cassandra of Troy) is the most valuable weapon since she has the ability to kill a God with her touch. Cassandra is angry, desperate, perhaps a bit out of control, and ready to take on the world whether Athena is ready or not. Her relationship with Athena is far from settled. I dare say that Cassandra would be happy killing every single god, regardless of what side they are on. Cassandra has gone from someone who had no clue about her previous life, to now planning on reigning down hell on Aphrodite for what she did to Aidan. I totally understand that she and Aiden were more than friends. They had a long history. But, her recklessness and anger issues does put her allies in some dangerous situations. 

Three more characters make their debut in this book. Persephone, Calypso, and Achilles. Achilles, like Cassandra, is considered a weapon of fate. Whomever has him, has a good chance of winning the war. Calypso has her moments, but I haven't come to like her or hate her at this time. Persephone is perhaps just a hiccup on Cassandra's road to find Aiden. If you think Blake is going to go easy on Athena and her allies, you haven't read any of Blake's previous novels. Mortal Gods takes our cast of characters from Kincaide, New York, to the Underground where Cass hopes to find Aidan and later onto Olympus where an actual face to face battle takes place. A battle that has a whole lot of implications for the final novel in this series.  

Previous Installment:

Snow never gathered on Aidan’s headstone. Other grave markers stood half-buried, with ridges of ice packed across the tops even after family members brushed them off. But Aidan’s sat bare. Snow and ice shrank from it. Out of respect? Or out of horror, maybe, at something buried beneath the ground that had no business there.
A god. A god lay dead at the feet of that granite slab. Apollo. Aidan Baxter. God of the sun.
Cassandra Weaver stood off to the side, as she had on every Tuesday and Friday afternoon since they’d buried him. Sundays were too crowded, and she hated the sound of other mourners, the ones who knew how to mourn and what to say. How to cry softly into a handkerchief instead of screaming until their noses bled.
Her fingers reached out and traced the air in front of his name. Aidan Baxter, Beloved Son and Friend. Every day in the cemetery she thought she’d say something that needed to be said, but she never spoke.
High on Aidan’s grave marker, above his name, was a carving of an enflamed sun. No one had told his parents to put it there. They just had. One more strange thing, working its will on the world, placing symbols for dead gods and keeping the snow at bay.
Odysseus stepped up beside Cassandra and laced his fingers through her hair, drawing it over her shoulder like a brown curtain.
“It’s been an hour. Should we go?” His neck was tucked into his shoulders. Londoner. Unused to the cold.
She’d asked him to be her alarm clock. Time in the cemetery tended to stretch out, and she didn’t have hours to lose. Normally, the job fell to Athena. The goddess accompanied Cassandra practically everywhere she went. A faithful, and hated, hound dog. Looking past Odysseus, Cassandra could almost see her, standing quietly near the edge of the cemetery in the copse of bare winter trees. She’d used to lean against a monument of a weeping angel, looking bored, until Cassandra snapped at her and said she was being disrespectful. But Athena was hundreds of miles away, somewhere between New York and Utah, seeking another dying goddess, stretched out across the desert. Seeking word of Aphrodite.
Cassandra’s hands tingled and burned even at the thought of Aphrodite’s name. They’d spent two months looking, Athena and Hermes both. They threw lines out in all directions, and still Aphrodite was nowhere to be found.
Andie said it didn’t matter. That Aphrodite would die eventually anyway. But it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be enough, if it wasn’t at Cassandra’s own hands.
Odysseus sank deeper into his coat. His shaggy brown hair made for poor earmuffs. Cassandra flexed her fingers to drive the burn away, and to drive Aphrodite from her thoughts.
“Cold?” she asked.
“Of course I am. It’s beastly cold.” He stuffed his hands under his armpits. “But take your time. We’ve got a while before we need to nab Andie from practice.”
“We can go. Thanks for coming with me.”
“Anytime. But if we don’t go soon, I’m going to warm my feet on his gravestone. Think he’d mind?”
Cassandra looked at the marker. Aidan Baxter. She’d loved him from the minute she saw him, without ever knowing what he really was. Who was she to say what he’d do, or what he’d feel?
I knew him in two lives, and not at all.
She remembered what he’d done to her in Troy—driving her insane, cursing her to never be believed—and she hated him. But she also remembered the sound of his voice and the last look in his eyes. He was there, underneath the dirt, and she’d give anything to reach down and pull him out of it. Even if it was only to scream into his face.
Damn you, Aidan. You were never this infuriating when you were alive. Come back, so I can tell you so.
“‘Beloved son and friend,’” she read. “If they only knew. That it isn’t the half of it. That they’d have needed a gravestone a mile long to tell the whole story.” She shook her head. “Four words. It’s not enough.”
Odysseus put his arm around her and tugged her close. He took a deep breath, and kissed her head.
“I think he’d say it’s everything.”

Cassandra and Odysseus walked into the ice arena and found Andie waiting on the steps leading up from the locker room. Her hair stuck to her head, steaming with sweat from practice. It wasn’t that much warmer inside the arena than out, but Andie stretched her t-shirt-clad arms happily.
“First one done?” Cassandra asked, descending the stairs.
“As usual.” Andie cocked her head toward the locker room. Inside, the shouts and laughter of her teammates mingled with the noises of packing skates and pulling Velcro. She snorted. “I don’t know what they’re laughing about. They suck. We suck.”
“Still time to turn it around.”
But there wasn’t. February was upon them, and the hockey season neared its end. Andie waved at Odysseus as he talked to the girls running the concession stand. “Hey, heartbreaker! Get me a hot dog!”
The sheer booming volume of Andie’s shout made Cassandra squint. “You’re in a decent mood, considering how bad you suck.”
“Yeah. It’s funny, but I don’t really care that much. Did you know?” she asked Cassandra. “That the season was going to blow?”
Cassandra shrugged. Of course she had. The usual, runof-the-mill visions were still around.
“Well, anyway. What’s going on in the world of weird?” Andie asked. “Does Athena still want to look for Artemis?”
“So Odysseus says.”
“But you saw Artemis running to her death months ago.” Andie craned her neck and gestured for Odysseus to hurry up.
Had it really been so long? Standing in the hockey arena, it felt like minutes, not months. Cassandra’s eyes clouded with memories of overgrown jungle leaves streaked with blood. The slim girl with brown and silver hair, chased down by a pack of ravenous who knew what. She could almost smell the blood and the rich black dirt. “Yeah,” Cassandra said, taking a breath. “But it’s the only vision we have to go on. And you know Athena. Any chance for another soldier is a chance too good to pass up.”
“Don’t be unfair,” Odysseus said, sneaking up behind them. “It’s about saving her sister as much as it is finding a soldier. And Artemis was Aidan’s sister, too, you know. His twin.” He handed Andie a hot dog in a cardboard shell.
“Finally. What took so long?”
“Sorry. Got caught chatting up Mary and Allie.” He nodded to the girls in concession, who leaned so far over the counter they were about to fall out of it.
Andie batted her eyes. “Odysseus is so witty. Odysseus is so charming! Don’t you just loveOdysseus’ accent!” She took a huge bite of hot dog and talked through it. “Barf.”
Odysseus had enrolled at school a month earlier. An ancient Greek hero, matriculating at Kincade High so he could dog Cassandra’s footsteps. Athena’s idea, though she probably regretted it now, seeing how popular Odysseus had become with every girl in their grade. But no. Having him there served a purpose, and to a goddess that was the important thing.
“You headed to Athena’s place?” Andie asked, referring to Athena’s new house, a few streets over from Cassandra’s own, where she lived with Hermes and Odysseus. “I’ll come with you if you guys can stop off and let me shower.”
“When’s your car supposed to be fixed?” Cassandra asked.
“Dear god, soon,” Andie groaned.

1 comment:

  1. OOooh nice! I still need to read this one as well! Falling so behind on my reads lately it seems! LOL! Too many good books out! But oh I remember the tears I had at the end of Antigoddess. Mortal Gods might undo me again! At least I have Ungodly already, so I can binge read the rest of the trilogy! Great review!