It’s hard to think how much good can possibly come from projects like this one. Between the myth series here and the Shakespeare series that’s currently being published by the likes of Jo Nesbo, Margaret Atwood, and Edward St Aubyn, there’s not much in the way of good novels. There’s some interesting takes and various other kinds of things like that, but when a project is sort of “assigned” I think the limits are built in already. It’s the same way about a lot of superhero books…the limits inherent in the content make the output severely limited in its own way. So you do what you can and hope for the best.
This short novel retells Atlas and Heracles (man, if you’re like me, I grew up saying Hercules and can’t ever go back). If you’ll recall Heracles is tasked with 12 heroic tasks designed to work off his culpability in murdering his wife and son when he was drunk, as one does. In this specific task, he’s asked to swipe three golden apples from a secret orchard that is watched over by Hera. He knows that Atlas, who holds up the world, has access and asks him to switch with him to get the apples.
The novel itself is written in a kind of way where Heracles is a douchebag bro-ey type guy….action and kinetic strength, but no substance, and Atlas is seen more as a kind of stable presence. Both strong, but one uses his strength for small feats to impress, while the other uses his strength to maintain and stabilize.