Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: Pantheons: The Game of the Gods

Pantheons: The Game of the Gods
Pantheons: The Game of the Gods by E.J. Dabel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Young Adult

Disclosure: I received a free ebook review copy from Sea Lion Books (the publishers) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: A year has passed since Isaiah Marshall’s father, Zeus, severed his left arm with white lightning in the tournament. During this time, the Indestructible Diamond has been training hard under the mysterious old man who saved his life. Despite his focus and determination, Isaiah has been unsuccessful in his development of his usage of blue-white lightning, nor has he tapped into the other more potent colored bolts, which his father has mastered.

The Powers-That-Be have forced the teen gods to finally take part in the Fourth Great War. But fearing death, as they have been cursed with mortal bodies, they’ve decided to compete for the Dominion in a new, professional sport called Tasselball: The Game of the Gods.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Dabel’s first book in this series, Pantheons, of which I was fortunate enough to see an ARC that I read 12/1-3/2011. I have been looking forward to reading this second book in the series ever since. One of the nice things about smaller, independent publishers like Sea Lion Books is that the books tend to come out much more quickly than books from the Big Six or other major publishers, from which we’re lucky to receive a single book per series per 12-month period, and are more likely to wait two to three years between books in a series. Meanwhile, we can see multiple books in a series coming out within a single 12-month period from a smaller press like this, which I think is fabulous.

This book is a bit hard to follow, especially at the beginning. At one point (22%), I got so frustrated I stopped reading and wrote to the author to ask him what he was thinking. Thankfully Ernst Dabel is a really nice fellow and was kind enough to explain a bit about what he was trying to do. I’m not, of course, going to share that with you, so as to avoid spoilers, but just know that there is a reason and a purpose behind everything that happens – just keep reading, you’ll eventually get it. Trust me. I was very glad I decided to continue reading, and I think you will be, too.

I remain impressed by the amount of research that Dabel put into learning about various gods and goddesses of all the different pantheons – known and obscure – that litter this series. Some of them are very obscure, some I haven’t even heard of, and of those of which I was already aware, he is very careful to remain closely within the existing mythology. I was, however, startled that this book wasn’t better edited – for instance, “past” was consistently replaced by the incorrect “passed.” While a number of the editing errors, especially the repetitiveness in some sentences – such as “both blah blah blah both” or “either blah blah blah either,” both of which, among others, are used frequently – could be passed off as the “voice” of the narrator, I find it hard to believe that so many of the characters would use such bad grammar so often. Why I am so surprised is that I know some of the editors that Sea Lion Books uses, and they are professionals who have done this for a lot longer than my one year. But I guess these sorts of things will slip through.

Overall I found the book pretty interesting – especially with all the various gods and goddesses – but to be honest, I found the tassleball scene very difficult to read, because I simply am not interested in sports. However, I have it on good authority that everything that happens in these books (including a deliberate misspelling in the first one) has a purpose and that there were important elements in these scenes, so I read them carefully anyway. I don’t quite see the purpose to doing this game, which was developed to help prevent a bunch of gods and goddesses dying, but in which it is insanely easy for them to kill one another. I would think that, if the purpose is to keep more of them alive, that there would be a few rules in place to ensure that. I was also blown away by the fact that it was allowed for the Olympians to just blow off practice, and then be allowed to start, while the Redrovers worked their tails off and were relegated to sitting on the bench. It seems to me that there should have been an element of “if you don’t put your whole into it, you don’t play” enforced, but then again, I didn’t come up with the thing and I’m not writing the book, so I’m sure Dabel has some sort of plan in place for all of this. The baby also was a weird thing – Isaiah shows up with a baby, claiming its his son, and no one even blinks. I mean, what’s up with that? Shouldn’t there have been some “where did this kid come from” type questions?

The epilogue, like in the first book, holds a real shocker. Of course I’m not going to tell you about it – you have to read the book to find out. I’m taking off a star for the editing, because I received the final version in this case, and overall I really enjoyed the book and I hope that those who read and enjoyed the first book will take note of this one, and those who have not yet discovered the world of Pantheons will give it a try. If you enjoy various mythologies and would like a new look at them, from a fresh perspective, come and join the teen gods in the world of the Pantheons.

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