The gods of myth, monsters of legend, heroes and villains of lore.
They’re real — and they’re coming back to finish a war that’s been waged since the dawn of time.
Fi Patterson and Zeke Prisco’s daily routine of caring for the elderly at a local hospital is shattered when a catatonic patient named Peter unwittingly thrusts them into a conflict between ageless beings beyond reckoning. A war of which he is the primary target, and perhaps the cause.
In order to survive, Fi and Zeke must forget everything they know about the world and come to grips with the astonishing reality of the Firstborn. Only then can they hope to learn the secrets locked in Peter’s mind, help stave off an ancient evil that’s been known by many names and feared by all, and discover truths about themselves perhaps best left hidden.
That’s the description from the book. I loved American Gods (with which this shares a faintly similar feel.) I love mythology. This was an easy sell.
I want to say that the story starts with… But, no. The story starts laying down pieces from all different parts of the puzzle right from the beginning. There are parts about Fi (Fiona) simply trying to navigate the regular ups and downs of near-adulthood. There are monsters and fights in the back alleys of our own contemporary world. There are lovely passages with equally lovely prose that follow the gods and heroes from yesteryear – the ones who have survived the last few millennia of fighting and family squabbles – and give us glimpses into their current shenanigans away from the prying eyes of humans.
It sounds like a lot to juggle, but Ashton handles it well, leaping from one character’s viewpoint to another without the fear that he’s going to leave any loose ends hanging. Instead, he manages to weave together all the parts of myth and legend we’re familiar with into something that feels like an entirely new mythology, one that holds a promise of being even more sprawling and intricate than what the first book delivers.
Now, all of that said, this is me avoiding mentioning more than what’s in the description above because I don’t wish to spoil anything. But there are a fair amount of well-paced action sequences balanced with plot and character reveals in order to let one catch their breath. Things happen. Stuff… does stuff. There. That’s about all I can say without fearing I’m going to ruin something for someone.
Now, it took me a few days after finishing to decide what star rating to apply to this. While I loved the mythology and reveled in the information and the knowledge of how much research it probably took to write Paternus, I have a few quibbles that kept this from being a stunningly perfect read.
There is some head-hopping in the book, which pulled me out of a couple of scenes, especially near the beginning. But it smoothed out as it went along (or I simply became used to it and so didn’t notice it as much.) I was also less entranced with the “contemporary” or “normal” sections with Fi and Zeke as I was when the various characters from mythology took the wheel, so to speak. Perhaps because of the contrast with the more timeless, mythology-heavy chapters, those bits seemed weaker? Or perhaps it was just a subjective thing, and it took my brain a bit longer to make the jump from one section to another.
But aside from my own nitpicky things, this is an excellent book. My kindle said it was around 500 pages in length but it didn’t feel anywhere near that long. There is violence in this book (it’s based around characters from world mythology, so…), there are beheadings, and yet it isn’t a non-stop bloodbath (not that there’s anything wrong with that sort of thing.) It’s a solid story all around, and one that sets an impressive stage for the next in the series…