Mythology,  Review,  YA

#BookReview : The Way Home (Ashes of Olympus #1) by Julian Barr // retelling of Virgil’s epic poetry- Aeneid

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The Way Home (Ashes of Olympus #1) by Julian Barr
Publication Date: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Genre: Greek Mythology
Stars: ★★★★☆

The gods betray you.

The winds are hunting.

Nowhere is safe.

The journey begins…

The war of the gods has left Aeneas’s country in flames. Though he is little more than a youth, Aeneas must gather the survivors and lead them to a new homeland across the roaring waves. Confronted by twisted prophecies, Aeneas faces the wrath of the immortals to find his own path.

First in a trilogy based on Virgil’s epic poetry, Ashes of Olympus: The Way Home is a tale of love and vengeance in an age of bronze swords and ox-hide shields. 

*** Note: I received e-copy this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Odyssey Books. ***

The Way Home was Greek Mythology, a story of Trojan hero, Aeneas, and his journey to find a new homeland when Troy fell by Greek warriors led by Odyssey. It was about love and vengeance, strife between goddesses, dangerous prophecy, and Gods’ politics. As mentioned in synopsis, it’s a retelling of Virgil’s epic poetry- Aeneid.

We all know how Odyssey led Greek warriors within the walls of Troy by hiding in horse but what happened after that, after they destroyed Troy from within. Well this story told about it wonderfully.

So much happened in the beginning. A roaring fire was set in Troy by Greeks, Gods turned against people of Troy, King and heirs of Troy were perished. A deity was saving Aeneas from being killed.  It was clear he was not ordinary human, he was a demigod but he didn’t know about it until tragedy struck. (I googled so I know, who was his mother)

Few people survived by bravery of a commoner and Aeneas led survivors out of Troy. Survivors were relying on him, they already considered him their king but he was skeptical, he was not made to rule people and was drowned in his own grief. A help of a spirit, and a mercenary and faith of people encouraged him to lead them and find a new homeland. But safe heaven never comes without path through hell.

Writing was simple and easy to follow. The story was third person narrative mostly from Aeneas’s perspective and some chapters were from Hera’s perspective as well. I didn’t know Hera had huge part in Trojan war until I read this book. Her perspective was most intriguing. I couldn’t figure out why she was so adamant on destroying all heirs of Troy until her visit to Apollo. I must say she was most cunning goddess. Aeneas’ perspective was all about their journey and adventure. Each chapters ended with a twist or turn that kept me hooked to story.

Characters, both Gods and Humans, were great in the story. I have read about Greek Gods so didn’t have any trouble recognizing gods or their characteristics or their relations, but first timers may struggle a bit. There is just enough information that one can figure out who is who. You don’t get to know characters in depth as so much was going on but you can tell how they felt and how things affected them by their action here.  And I’m just telling about Aeneas.

Aeneas was just 19 year old, with a son. He was not ready to take responsibility he was forced into by destiny. At the same time he was humble and courageous enough to lead people as leader, as their own and as a friend. He quickly made friends, gained trust of survivors and made right decisions, mostly. I could empathize with him and his emotions felt genuine. His development was great. He turned into braver, wiser, and a true leader by the end.

In secondary characters, Mnestheos, Sergetos and Beroe were my favorite. There wasn’t much story for them but I liked them from their little intro and their conversations with Aeneas. I agree with Aeneas’ thoughts in the end. They were true hero, without them, he wouldn’t have reached so far. While we are speaking about hero, I tell you Aeneas was no Hercules. He didn’t have that strength or could fight monsters alone, and like him he wasn’t son of three big Gods. His strength lied in his people and heart. 

Their journey through sea was the best part of the book. It was arduous, many fell ill, they were attacked on the lands, and winds were hunting them. It was admirable how Aeneas and his companions’ spirit was not discouraged. They faced all the challenges with brave heart and determination.  And another favorite part was Aeneas’ conversation with Andromache was insightful. I loved the way she told story of Trojan war.

Climax was tense and action packed. So much happened between climax and end. I’m still thinking about how that fight ended, how much a right choice could change, bring peace and change the direction of prophecy. It showed humans, specifically demigods, are just pawns of Gods’ game. I loved Aeneas’ meeting with his mother and the choice he made and that last conversation between God and goddess. End had a tiny winey cliffhanger. I would love to see what happens in next book.

Why 4 Stars-

I get the depth of story and conversion. I wish there was more depth to characters. As I said, I could understand what characters were feeling by their action but it didn’t touch the heart. They were forgettable.

Overall, it was interesting, entertaining and adventurous mythical fantasy. Readers of any age who loves Greek Mythology will enjoy it.

Book Links: Goodreads
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Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and my review?
Have you read this book already or any book by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
Which is you favorite retelling based on Greek mythology?


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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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