Reasons for Inclusion: Gay characters. Hanhau’s people are darker-skinned than the Atlanteans and are led by a warrior queen (which might indicate a matriarchy).
(Disclaimer: I haven’t read the prequel to this book, The Seventh Pleiade)
Damianos isn’t a hero. He’s only the dishonored cousin of the real hero, Prince Aerander, who led his people to safety after the collapse of Atlantis. But life is better here then it had been in Atlantis, and Dam is able to carve out a life among the underground civilization sheltering the Atlantean refugees. There are still ungrateful bullies, who insult their hosts and taunt Dam for his old sins, but there’s also Hanhau, an attractive warrior boy willing to accept Dam, flaws and all.
Just as things seem to be going well, and the Atlanteans choose Aerander over the rebels in an unprecedented election, disaster strikes when the source of their power is stolen. Dam and his new boyfriend join the quest to get it back.
Dam fights all sorts of underworld monsters, survives explosions and earthquakes, and eventually masters mythical powers in pursuit of his goal. He must seek help from a banished goddess and an old enemy if he wants to succeed.
I especially loved the themes of trust and dealing with the past. Dam struggles to overcome the stigma of having been abused by some of the other boys and then tricked into a foolish plot that nearly killed them. For some Atlanteans, this counts for a lot. Hanhau’s people, in contrast, see a man’s present deeds as far more important than the past. The differences between Hanhau’s culture and Dam’s were interesting too. The worldbuilding was very nicely handled, and both worlds felt like they could have a life beyond what we see on the page.
The theme of trust and the past comes up again when Dam has to trust an old enemy, and a goddess who once loved that enemy. Should the past define their present, or should Dam move forward with whatever help he can get?
This book was a lot of fun to read, full of monsters and magic and vibrant characters, and it brought up some deep questions. The roots in Greek mythology made it even better.