Ares. The god of war. And some would say the god of destruction and chaos. But no, he is more than that. When the best laid plans of war go awry, when Athena’s logic has left the playing field, that is when Ares enters into the playing field. He brings forth blood lust, discord and strife. But more than that, when all seems lost and your enemies about to overwhelm you, Ares gives his power and strength to let you make one last stand. That is Ares.
In this, the seventh entry into the Olympians series, George O’Connor breaks his traditional story telling method again to tell the story of Ares through one work alone, The Iliad. But it is full of rich and powerful stories to draw from and O’Connor uses it to again force us to challenge our own preconceived notions of what the god of War is like. To show us that Ares is not an uncaring, blood thirsty god, but one full of greater things. And that likes his fellow gods he does care about his sons and daughters in his own way, but being the god of War he has a hard time showing it.
O’Connor has always been a strong storyteller and Ares is one of his best stories yet. O’Connor sets the stage beautifully in the first few pages of this book, mixing simple phrases with powerful images to show us just how fearful, and powerful, the god of war really is, and how powerful his compatriots are. In just a few short panels we meet, Eris the goddess of strife and discord, and his sons Demios and Phobios…fear and panic. And we get a true sense of just how deadly Ares really is. That he is not just a harbinger of war, but that he rides with a host of others as well. O’Connor though shows off his true storytelling talents, by building on the previous volumes of this series. Although each work is stand alone, there is an interwoven thread that connects them all together, and shows that there is a greater story at work, one that we are only just beginning to discover. More importantly though, he shows that the gods are all part of the same bickering, chaotic family, and that even though they have great phenomenal powers, they are much like our own in many ways.
I’ve always enjoyed O’Connor’s artwork in these books with his great use of shadows and bold colors, makes the characters and the story come to life, and Ares is no exception. In this book O’Connor uses tones of dark red, steel gray, and browns that highlight Ares world. The rich textures of armor and earth and blood that make up war, with the clanging of metal against metal that encompass the world. It creates a varied and powerful work. More importantly though, is that I love that O’Connor depicts the gods as close to human like as possible. They may have phenomenal cosmic powers, but by and large they could look like each and every one of us. I think that, more than anything else, helps viewers connect with the gods that we’re reading about and see them in as something other than powerful cosmic beings. This humanity of the gods really shows well in the action sequences in the book, where Ares and others are in full battle mode. The way they move and interact with others, while imbued with the strength of their powers, shows their humanity in how they move…much like we do. They also betray their humanity with the emotions on their faces, where we can see their confusion their hurt, anger, and passion. It takes a skilled artist to be able to pull that off and O’Connor is able to capture it in the nuances of the characters expressions with a raised eyebrow and a slight tilt to the head. It really helps make the characters come to life.
One of the great features of this series, is at the end O’Connor has a section that talks about the different characters, who they are, and other details to help learn more about the Greek world. This is the perfect companion for people that have been enjoying the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and want to know more about the Greek/Roman gods and how they work. It would be ok for elementary school age (3rd and above) but they would probably need to read it with a parent. But this would be an excellent book for a middle or high schooler (or even adult) that wants to learn more about the world of Greek mythology. I can’t wait to read the next volume. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
You can find my reviews for books 3-6 and the collected set here.
ARC provided by Gina at FirstSecond