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Review: Olympians: Apollo, The Brilliant One

Review: Olympians Apollo: The Brilliant One
By George O’Connor
All Ages (9-14)
First Second, January 2016, ISBN: 978-1626720152
80 pgs., $9.99

The eighth volume of the Olympians series shines its light on the god of prophecy, music, and healing, who turns out to be impulsive, prideful, and vindictive. His stories are told by the Muses, the goddesses of inspiration who find their inspiration in Apollo.

There are seven stories told by the nine muses, with a few of them doubling up. Each muse tells their story in the art form they inspire. Polyhymnia, the muse of religious hymns, uses a hymn to Apollo to tell of his birth and arrival on Olympus. The other muses tell of Apollo getting vengeance on the snake Python for hounding his mother Leto while she was pregnant with him and his sister, his dealing with a satyr who dared compare his musical talents to Apollo’s, two stories of Apollo’s failed relationships, and the story of his son Asklepios.

What really comes out in this volume is what a complicated individual Apollo was. He could be petty and spiteful, as the tale of the satyr Marsyas shows, but in the tale of Python and Asklepios, it’s his strong feelings for his family, his mother and son, that drive him to the acts he commits. It shouldn’t be too surprising that a god whose relationships always end in tragedy would act out violently in defense of the few people he still has in his life. He was firm in his convictions and paid the consequences, often in servitude, for them. But he never regretted them.

The volume ends on a clever twist that plays into Apollo’s gifts and ties the stories all together. O’Connor’s choice of stories does a good job of showing all the sides of Apollo, both good and bad. The different forms of storytelling used by each muse enhance the stories’ impact, even if the style isn’t readily noticeable at first. While all the Greek gods are made more relatable by their human characteristics, none seem more human than Apollo.

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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