Lore

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Book Review

As punishment for a past rebellion, every seven years the nine Greek gods must become mortal and be hunted by the human descendants of ancient bloodlines in something called the Agon. Seventeen-year-old Melora “Lore” Perseous—the last living descendant of the Greek hero Perseus—walked away from all that after her parents were murdered. But during this Agon, Lore is offered something she can’t resist: revenge!

Plot Summary

The Agon has begun once again.

If you’re an average Joe on the streets of New York City, where the deadly contest is secretly playing out this year, you wouldn’t likely know anything about it. Or the havoc it causes. Hey, people die and things blow up all the time in a city packed with millions of souls. But 17-year-old Melora “Lore” Perseous—the last living descendant of the Greek hero Perseus—knows all about the Agon and what it means.

The Agon has taken place in cities around the world for thousands of years. It began when the god king Zeus created it as punishment for nine other Greek gods and their rebellion. Every seven years, those gods must become mortal for a short period and be hunted by the human descendants of ancient bloodlines.

Why would those human descendants of long-ago heroes participate? Well, if you kill a god, you gain his or her power and immortality. And on top of that, the new god’s whole family reaps the benefits of their deity’s powers, which they can use to build family-owned business empires. Hey, a little bloody murder, and everybody’s happy, right?

But of course, Lore knows that’s a horrible lie. The Agon is a brutal and bloody travesty that resulted in the murder of her entire family, even though her parents were trying to stay far away from it. In the years since then, Lore has stayed as far away as possible. She’s had no contact with any of the different bloodlines and houses. And other than participating in a few low-key fightclub tourneys—a byproduct of the finely honed fighting skills she learned as a girl—she’s stayed nearly invisible.

The key word there, however, is nearly. Because as the Agon begins, two completely unexpected things happen.

First, Lore is contacted briefly by a childhood friend named Castor, who seems to be seeking her aid for something. But he disappears before Lore can find out what he needed. What’s particularly shocking about that is the fact that Lore was certain that Castor was dead! Then something even more shocking happens: The goddess Athena shows up on Lore’s doorstep, bloody and near death.

As Lore does her best to patch a grievously wounded diety back together, she still can’t help but want to run away as fast as she can. She hates everything about the gods, new and old, and all the houses of human descendants. She’s done. She’s out. And she doesn’t have any desire to get dragged back in.

However, it’s then that the weakened goddess offers Lore a deal. If Lore will help her and find a way to heal her, Athena will bind her own fate to Lore’s. For the next eight days, until the Agon is over, Lore will have the strength and power of an original Greek goddess at her back. Together, the two of them might just put an end to the horrendous Agon.

But Athena promises even more: She personally will kill the powerful new god called Wrath, the person who murdered Lore’s parents and sisters.

Lore has a chance at revenge, something she could have never hoped for. She thought she was done with it all. But something still boils and burns down deep within her. And with the recital of a short oath, Lore, the girl who was out, is back in!

Christian Beliefs

Athena stops at one point to stare at a large Christian church. She mentions that “this God’s followers” had destroyed the Hellenic culture surrounding the Greek gods.

Other Belief Systems

This is a story focused squarely on Greek mythology. As such, there are many, many references to the stories of Greek gods and past heroes of lore. There are times that the Lore story through lines, as well as its narrative twists and turns, can become a bit confusing if you aren’t well versed in these mythological tales.

This story also sets up some new powers and abilities based on the loose “rules” of Agon, including the ability for some to assume the powers of a killed god in mortal form and a variety of other mind-control, super-strength and power-blasting abilities.

Lore wrestles with the tension between fate versus free will as well. She believes that she has the freedom to make her own choices, decisions that are totally uncontrolled by outside forces. The gods (Athena declares her belief without hesitation) and most others in the Agon believe however that everyone’s fate is preordained and no amount of effort can change that preordained outcome. That doesn’t prove to be true.

Authority Roles

In flashback, we see that Lore’s father was a good and fair-minded man who tried to work within the social structure of the various Greek hero houses while also loving and caring for his daughter. He also makes personal sacrifices to get Lore the “heroic” battle training she needed and desired as a girl. (Part of the social structure of the houses is that their members seek out glory and prestige through hand-to-hand battle as they come of age.)

Nearly all other people of power and authority here, however, are hard and nearly ruthless in their approach. For instance, we hear of one father, after learning that is son had no skills as a fighter, who lopped off the young man’s hand to give him an “honorable excuse” and spare their house from shame. The house leaders and gods are all stern and uncaring about the sacrifices that others make. People talk of the possibility of dying and being taken down a “dark river” to the land of the dead.

Profanity & Violence

There is one particular use of an f-word and numerous s-words in the dialogue mix. But there are also uses of “a–hole,” the f-word substitute “fecking” and exclamations of “godsd–mit.”

In the area of violence, all stops are pulled out in this story. The Agon and its surrounding houses and culture are based on the same kinds of gory violence that you find in Greek mythology. Many, many people—from adults to children—are beaten and hacked at with blades and bludgeons. Everyone here is badly wounded and bloodied at some point, usually by knives, swords, spears or arrows. People have limbs lopped off; they’re crushed; burned alive; beheaded; gutted and left to bleed out. We are told of places filled with scores and scores of dead human bodies. Great disasters, including a massive flood, terrorist-like explosions and a huge fire befall New York City.

A pair of little girls are “cooked” in the heated belly of a large statue. Another group of small girls are said to be groomed to be “slaves or mistresses” once their “blood comes in.” And we hear numerous stories of rape and abuse, including one attempted rape committed against a 10-year-old Lore before she fights back and kills her adult attacker.

Sexual Content

Lore and her childhood friend Castor draw closer through the course of this story. They eventually embrace, kiss and caress each other and it’s implied that their affection crosses into something more sexual, but we don’t see the details. We also hear of several gay attractions in the past and present and two men kiss at one point.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for other books at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments

This New York Times Bestseller is without question very creative and well structured. And those interested in Greek mythology will likely be drawn to its mythology-meets-the-Hunger-Games approach. However, Lore is an incredibly violent and bloody tale. And potential readers should know that there are a number of possible triggering scenarios involving graphic child murder, attempted rape, and abuse.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose

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