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Campy, explosive fun with the Greek gods
on 25 April 2010
Science fiction or fantasy readers looking for a serious book should keep looking elsewhere: James Lovegrove's The Age of Zeus isn't a meticulous reinterpretation of age-old myths or a stirring, philosophical treatise on modern society. Instead, this is a shameless excuse to blow up first edition AD&D monsters with power armor.
And before we get too far: there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The Age of Zeus is ridiculous, campy fun, and should be celebrated for it. The premise is delightfully simple. The Olympian gods have come back and are reigning over the modern world. There's global peace (yay), but it isn't particularly fun (boo). Whilst the Hydra chews on retirees in Florida, resentment grows.
Fortunately, a band of heroes have arisen: twelve people ("Titans") that are particularly miffed with the Olympians. They're given Heinlein-style power armor and the task of saving humanity.
The plot is established in about ten pages - maybe twenty if you count the training montage. The following five hundred pages are spent in set-piece battles in which the Titans explode one monster after another. If you've ever been curious about what happens when you attack Gorgons with shotguns, this is your chance.
There are a few plot-twists - obvious betrayals, the obligatory love story, a "quitting" sequence - and a lot of monologuing. There's absolutely nothing in this from a plot standpoint that is in any way surprising. Nor, as far as character development, is there anything to write home about. Everyone is blandly appealing, but they all speak in carefully-crafted witticisms that prevent any sort of real dialogue from occurring.
The Age of Zeus is fun, entertaining and endlessly explosive. It is a fantasy in the sense that it is a daydream let loose on paper. Very readable and very enjoyable, but make sure to take it for what it is.