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Review: ‘Olympians: Hermes, Tales of the Trickster’

Olympians: Hermes, Tales of the Trickster
By George O’Connor
All Ages
First Second, January 2018, ISBN: 9781626725256
80 pgs., $10.99USD

In the tenth volume of the Olympians series we meet Hermes, the god of so many things it would take up half this review to list them. Known mostly for his speed and mischievous nature, he was also amiable enough to win over any detractors. His stories are told by a wandering traveler with a dog companion, speaking to his host for the night.

There are five stories in this volume, four told by our traveler and one by the host, who believes his story explains the others. To convince his host that his stories are worthy of hearing, the traveler tells a tale that explains why dogs sniff each others’ back sides. Also told are the stories of Hermes’ birth and entry into Olympus, his son Pan, and his part in helping Zeus defeat Typhon, the last son of Mother Earth. The story told by the host is of Hermes and Zeus saving a couple who is hospitable to them, while passing judgement on their neighbors who were not. There is a well executed twist at the end that I will not spoil.

These tales show the many sides of Hermes. Even though he is a trickster, his tricks are not mean or malicious. He does steal his half-brother Apollo’s sacred cows when he is only one day old, but he makes a trade with Apollo, for the lyre he just invented, that the normally vindictive god feels is more than fair. He even wins over Hera, who is normally not pleased with Zeus’s roaming eye or the progeny it produces. He is also very loyal to his father, promising to come back for him when Typhon attacks the Olympians. He does so, with his own son Pan, and they are instrumental in helping Zeus defeat the father of monsters.

O’Connor really outdid himself with this volume, not only with the skillful twist at the end, but also in the way he portrays Hermes. Throughout the volume, you almost never see Hermes’ eyes. They are always covered under a hat or helmet. It gives him a mysterious quality, but also, as O’Connor mentions at the end of the book, as the god of liars, he doesn’t want you to see his eyes, so it’s very telling the few times we do. The Hermes-Apollo chase is one of the best bits of comedy you will read in a long time. And O’Connor’s note on it at the end just makes it all the more funny. I also really loved how he connected some of the roles Hermes played, such as from thieves and liars, to language and eloquence, to politicians. The panels showing this are priceless.

Of all the volumes of Olympians so far, this one is by far the most good-natured. The stories have a mostly humorous bent, though Hermes can be serious when necessary. But he is never shown to be vengeful, jealous or vindictive. He is just trying to help. And where’s the harm in having a little fun along the way?

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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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