The High Court picks up after the events of the previous book, with Hyperion and Kronos being tried for their crimes. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
I definitely wanted to carry over themes of parenting, or lack thereof. So much of mythology is deities behaving badly. and in Kronos we have the ultimate crappy parent. And how. But I also wanted to contrast that style of parenting with Rhea’s more maternal side. But other parent/ child relationships arise as well.
Additionally, I wanted to carry forward this idea of duality and that nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be initially. I wanted to confuse the readers’ loyalties a bit in that regard.
New ideas I wanted pursue were the ideas of justice and what that meant. And retribution versus restraint.
A race of giants attack the students and force them to flee while the giants grow stronger with every attack. What was the inspiration for this race of giants?
In Greek mythology, there actually was a Gigantomachy, or war between gods and giants. Chronologically, it occurred after the Olympians-Titans war (Titanomachy). I wanted to sneak a representation of it into book 2 seeing as though to many readers a war between gods and giants might have been anti-climactic after all the egos and storylines of the Titanomachy.
Zeus continues to be an intriguing character with multiple layers. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Firstly, thank you for that. I’m happy that he came out so well in your eyes. One thing I was very cognizant about was the perception of Zeus, the classic king of the pantheon. He doesn’t have the best reputation. Haha. I wanted to build a view toward more humble beginnings for him and show the natural teen angst, uncertainty, and discomfort with coming of age.
Where will book three in the Sky Throne series take readers and when will it be available?
Sadly, the third book in the series didn’t get picked up for publication. 😦
High atop Mount Olympus, as dawn breaks on a new academic term, normalcy returns to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students.
Zeus and his fellow Olympians now prepare to testify in The High Court where Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos and Kronos will stand trial for the murder of MO Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.
As the trial draws near, the MO Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup. Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness creeps toward his brain.
In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack, and somehow make it to the The High Court alive.
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The sequel to the wonderful debut series The Sky Throne, we find young Zeus struggling with forces from beyond Mount Olympus in The High Court. The book picks up after there has been a lull after the tumultuous events of the previous book, with Hyperion and Kronos both being tried for crimes and will be hopefully brought to justice soon. It is when these trials grow near that the school, which is already underway with a new semester, when giants attack and force the occupants to flee. Zeus in the meantime is poisoned and will have to find a cure, before he succumbs the toxin.
Ledbetter is not letting his heroes off easy in this next book and as is tradition with second books of a series, the stakes are even higher than before. It is clear that his style and refinement in the craft is better handled than in the previous book. The characterization of Zeus also seems to be maturing somewhat, which fits because the characters are getting slightly older as time on Olympus passes.
The world building of this series continues to amaze, since not since Percy Jackson has an author created such a self-contained world of mythology and used it to such effect. It would be derivative to compare it to the likes of Harry Potter or other classic series where the majority of action and story happens at a school, but Ledbetter uses this setting to his advantage at every turn.
The only true issues that come up in this book, is the pacing. It’s hard to say if this book is the middle book of trilogy or another episode of a series, since there are places where the plot kind of peters out. This is made up for the stylized action sequences, but it is still something to be wary of when moving forward through the narrative.
All in all, Ledbetter has written another great installment in his Greek mythology series and anyone who enjoys fantastical settings and compelling, fun characters would be remiss to skip this series. Looking forward to the next entry of The Sky Throne.
Pages: 334 | ASIN: B07F453DQ3
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The Labyrinthine Journey follows Evan on his continued quest to locate a sacred object and stop the advent of Christianity? What were some themes you wanted to bring over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
I wanted to explore the concept of what if Christianity never happened, and what events may have prevented the birth of Christ. What if the Greek gods were to learn they would be superseded by a single divinity? How would they react and what would they do? Are their powers omnipotent or are they impeded by restrictions and what are they? This is what I wanted to delve into in the trilogy, and offer an alternative. If Christ wasn’t born, then which deity would prevail?
The main theme is self-enlightenment, growing and learning from experiences whatever the challenges or situation. As each book is written, it is my hope Evan and his companions continue to grow and become more self-aware and enlightened. Destiny is another theme I wanted to explore and develop further in each book. Was Evan destined to be the hero, go back to his past and prevent the rise and birth of Christ? Or does his destiny and the world’s change once he makes a decision or when he acts? Is he controlled by forces that he cannot see or feel? In essence, I wanted to explore the idea of whether destiny shapes who we are, how we think and what we do. Family was another theme I wanted to include, Evan is very close with his parents and deceased sister, and mentions in book one various familial experiences. In book two, his recollections of his family are still there, however his surrogate family, Dexion and Phameas, and half-brother, Homer, who he discovers at the end of book one, become pivotal in the story. He and Homer are Zeus’ offspring, and the family ties are even stronger with the High Priestess, who is his sister. Darkness and light are another theme, which is hinted at in book one, grows in book two, something that I will explore more in book three. The darkness is within Evan, his transformation evident when he gets angry and his eyes turn black, a characteristic he shares with the High Priestess, though she tends to use her particular abilities when they are in trouble.
How did the idea of the gods from Greek mythology fighting monotheism develop into a story for you?
It was a twisted path, much like the journey the characters go through in book two, the original concept for the story looked very different to the books I’ve written. It was meant to be about how the Atlanteans re-emerge from the destruction of their home and re-discover the world in which they once inhabited. It didn’t have enough for me to explore or write, so I re-read Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey. They are my go-to books for inspiration as is Joseph Campbell’s books. Then I had an epiphany, if the gods created such havoc through one war and for one individual who tried to return home, what would they do if they discovered that their existence, their omnipotence, their control over humans was threatened? I didn’t think they’d like it at all! And that is how my idea for the story evolved.
I think you did a fantastic job of building great characters in this story. What is your writing process like in developing your characters?
Thank you very much for the compliment! I tried very hard to make sure each character had his/her own personality and I wanted each to stand out, even if their role was a minor one.
I have in mind what they look like, how they sound, how they walk, the colour of their skin and hair, how tall they are or short. I then write their details out on a proforma, similar to the old index cards, a character biography. I have three separate documents: one for master characters, major and minor. On each of these ‘cards’ I have their names and age; their pertinent biographies including occupation (if they have one); physical features; distinctive language; goals/motivation; fatal flaws and saving grace. These help me keep the characters consistent and ‘flesh out’ who they really are. I got this strategy from reading: The Writer’s little helper by James V. Smith Jr.
When I am writing, I visualise the characters, how they interact, what mood they are in, their body language, speech inflections and little quirks they have. For example, Phameas, who likes to keep his hair and beard curled, a Phoenician style and sign of a man’s virtue, is upset when Evan has radical haircuts and shaves. However, the characters don’t always allow me to write how I want the story to go, they interfere, a lot. I guess that’s only fair, as it is their story I am writing.
This is book two in the Servant of the Gods series. Where will book three take readers?
In Book three, Evan and his companions find a way to leave the Isle of Hephaistos, and sail to Crete. They are a bit concerned, as prior experience has seen them shipwrecked and the Argo badly damaged. They island hop, that is Jason’s preference to ensure they don’t run into the Cyclops again. It is at one of the islands that Evan encounters the Dark Master, and have a conversation. When they arrive on Crete, they discover ancestors of the island who had escaped the deluge. One of the islanders shows them the way into King Minos’ labyrinth, where Evan will face the Minotaur. What happens in between, who knows?
Follow Evan as he continues his odyssey as Servant of the Gods in The Labyrinthine Journey. The quest to locate the sacred object adds pressure to the uneasy alliance between Evan and the Atlanteans. His inability to accept the world he’s in, and his constant battle with Zeus, both threaten to derail the expedition and his life.
Traversing the mountainous terrain of the Peloponnese and Corinthian Gulf to the centre of the spiritual world, Evan meets with Pythia, Oracle of Delphi. Her cryptic prophecy reveals much more than he expected; something that changes his concept of the ancient world and his former way of life.
Will Evan and his friends succeed in their quest to find the relics and stop the advent of Christianity?
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Evan is a normal twenty-first century man who works as an architect. However, to interrupt his daily routine, none other than Zeus himself, has decided to transport Evan to the sixth century BCE. Evan now travels across ancient Greece with his companions, including Atlanteans, a high priestess, and his friend, Dexion, who has the power to see into the future. All of this is for a mighty cause, Evan has been chosen by Zeus to unite two powerful relics in order to save the Gods from extinction.
Stuck in the sixth century BCE Evan longs to return home. Given his precarious position between times, the juxtaposition of his wants against his reality serves to highlight the stark differences between the comfort of home that Evan is used to and what he is currently facing. For instance, walking across a sandy plain in sandals verses the want for a motorbike to make short work of the distance. His modern life’s influence over his worldview often leaves him homesick, but he must complete his mission. On the other hand, his life back home gives him ways to solve the problems he faces in the sixth century BCE, taking ideas from the pop-culture of his own time and bringing them into the past to aid his quest. This fusion of time periods makes for some brilliant innovations and cross-overs between what we as the reader understand to be ancient Greece, and the modern day.
The Labyrinthine Journey is book two in Luciana Cavallaro’s Servant of the Gods series and it follows on fluently with the events of the previous book with references here and there to book one. Something striking about the series is the relationship between mortals and Gods. With whole chapters dedicated to the musings of God’s and their society it gives the reader an insight into their intentions. Furthermore, the book proposes an alternative viewpoint on the beginnings of Christendom. The Greek Gods fear that they will lose their dominance in light of a God-sent child being born that will potentially lead to the widespread belief in a single God instead of the current pantheon.
This retelling of the birth of Christ from the God’s perspective explains why Zeus wants the relics united – to maintain his and the other Gods’ significance. However, there are some Gods trying to interfere with the mission and stop Evan’s and his companions’ journey. Evan searches ancient Greece, already in possession of the first relic, for the second to unite the two. The perilous journey over a treacherous landscape naturally reminds one of the epics of Homer.
The Labyrinthine Journey was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five out of five for its sophisticated and inventive retelling of the well-known and widespread story of Christ and its ability to connect it to the overarching quest narrative seamlessly. Luciana Cavallaro’s prose fits the story perfectly, making the journey truly epic. Furthermore, the fusion of God’s, monsters, ancient philosophers, magical ancient relics and even time travel, leads to unexpected twists and turns throughout the novel.
Pages: 311 | ASIN: B075QGZQP9
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Two star-crossed lovers, one ancient curse…
The gods reigned in harmony until the birth of Eris. Her quest for chaos brought war among humans and feuds among immortals. In prophecy, only love could change one so evil, so mighty Zeus sought a marriage for her. Spiteful Eris agreed to wed, but only to her cousin’s betrothed, a mortal king named Matthaios. He and his true love, Sara, sacrificed their happiness to save mankind. Eris was unfaithful, dishonest and cruel. Matthaios sought comfort from the only woman he’d ever loved. Eris cursed them to remain star-crossed in every lifetime for infinity…
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Move over, Homer. These aren’t your gods and goddesses anymore. Angelina Kerner puts a whole new spin on the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods in her book Deity’s Soulmate. Our usual suspects are there: Athena, Zeus, Hera, Hermes, Hades and others. We’re introduced to a new structure of the world thanks to the first person perspective of a young goddess, Gardenia. At first, we’re not sure who she is as she leads us through the universes to the Milky Way Galaxy. She comes across humanity in their bloody splendor immediately. This shatters what she has been taught about humans. Not all is what she has been told. It’s time for Gardenia to learn the real way of the world. She has a place in her family’s pantheon, but will she be twisted around the thread of a Fate first? This entertaining story about gods, goddesses, dragons and the creation of worlds is the first installment in what is sure to be an amazing trilogy.
While most of us have perceptions about the gods and goddesses from ancient Greece and Rome, seeing Hera in a black suit with white stilettos is definitely an interesting image. Kerner builds her world in a fascinating way. Yes, there have been more ‘modern’ interpretations of such heavenly beings before, but the way Kerner does it makes the reader feel like this is how they have always been. Her description on the creation of galaxies and worlds, giving each god and goddess an entire mini universe to be responsible for is an interesting take on the creation myth. She does not deny the science of a world being born yet the way she peppers that in with the mystical ability of the gods and goddesses seems natural.
This book is more than just what the gods and goddesses get up to in their spare time. Gardenia is a very new, very young goddess. She is scorned by the majority of her family and she strives to show them she is not someone to be taunted. However in the beginning she is just that: young. Barely alive for eighteen years, which is less than a wink for immortal beings; she is taken advantage of and manipulated by the Fates. Even on the brink of death she does not give in. She is a strong, fiercely independent young lady. She realizes she’s been dealt a bad hand at life and is determined to make more out of it than anyone expects. To this end, she journeys. She travels across galaxies in her search for teachers older than her family: dragons. These mystical beings that hold the power of creation yet can’t be bothered with using it.
A coming of age story is wrapped up inside a mystical journey. Not only is Gardenia searching for herself, she is striving to rise above the path that has been laid out for her. The eternal question on whether or not someone can change their ‘fate’ is addressed in this delightful read. Deity’s Soulmate by Angelina Kerner sports beautiful illustrations and a fantastic story to match. Will Gardenia change her future? Or will she be a pawn of the Fates? Only time will tell.
Pages: 180 | ASIN: B06Y1GCCF5
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The Sky Throne is a tale set in Ancient Greece and follows young Zeus who finds himself entangled in a conflict that reaches the slopes of Mount Olympus itself. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Many myths feature deities as fully grown. Since I’m a young adult author, I wanted to re-imagine them as adolescents. I wanted to try to use the myths as a base from which to pull, and then use their grown personalities to drill down and perhaps find out how they came to be that way.
The story has roots in the Greek mythology. Do you read books from that genre? What were some books that you think influenced The Sky Throne?
I’ve read Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The Odyssey, The Illiad, The Aeneid. I’ve also read some young adult books that feature Greek deities, or at the very least, their offspring. Such titles include Tera Lynn Childs’ Oh. My. Gods. and Sweet Venom, Jennifer Estep’s Touch of Frost, and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.
I enjoyed seeing these mythological gods as young angst filled teens. I found Zeus to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for his emotional turmoil through the story?
Once I set Zeus on his path, I just tried to get as far inside his head as I could. I did find some inspiration from various bits of movies, though no single movie stands out.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?
I am currently writing book 2 of The Sky Throne, tentatively called The High Court. It will be released in spring of 2018.
“When the family of young Zeus is attacked by Hyperion, Zeus’s mother is knocked unconscious and his best friend is left for dead. Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavyhearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia. Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus’s quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of the Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back. On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.”
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The Sky Throne, by Chris Ledbetter, is a tale set in Ancient Greece. Zeus, a youthful prankster, finds himself entangled in a conflict that reaches the slopes of Mount Olympus itself. Living a life as an unknown, Zeus’s world changes entirely with the violent attack by an Elder deity, Hyperion. Zeus, seeking an answer for this attack, finds himself at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia. He finds sanctuary and a temporary reprieve from the sorrow that haunts him, but trouble still follows him. Students and faculty begin to vanish from Olympus, which leaves Zeus and his peers to solve the mystery.
Ledbetter takes the best pieces of contemporary YA and gives them their own mythological flare. The academia of Harry Potter becomes the independent schools of the Mediterranean and Aegean. The survival of The Hunger Games is embodied by Zeus’s ingenuity throughout the story. Even tones of Red Rising can be felt in the opening pages of the very humble beginnings of a character we have known about for thousands of years. The breadth of the world is very thorough, and will please any Grecophile. Ledbetter covers everything from Crete to Tartarus, and all that lies in between.
These very familiar characters from mythology are made a new by being “made young” and formed into literal student roles. The twist on these old figures was one of the reasons why I kept turning the page. This, and the mystery of Zeus’s parentage, kept me enthralled with the character; especially since Zeus is a character that not only grows and changes throughout the book, but becomes endeared to the reader. For example, he consistently struggles with how to flirt with girls!
The actual pacing itself is done quite well. Within the first dozen pages, the reader feels the very real consequences of violence and aggression and the plot only gathers speed from there. It especially begins to escalate when the real threat against Olympus Prep arises and Zeus begins to show the true core of his character, to the delight of the reader.
If anything negative can be said against the plot and world building of the book itself, I would say that Ledbetter’s technical skill could use a bit of Olympus grace. While reading, I found some of the sentences awkward, while others were quite unnecessary based on context. This forced me out of the story. Beyond that, I found the dialogue to be inconsistent along the lines of pushing melodrama or self-deprecating humor. This is not to disregard the appreciation I had for his presentation of different cultures that actually did have their own way of speaking.
All of this taken into account, the reader of YA literature will not be disappointed. Following in the footsteps of Rick Riordan, yet also striking out on his own when his path diverges, is not a feat to be taken lightly. Ledbetter achieves this with brilliant originality and a story uniquely his own.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B06W5LXJFN
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