I might be rounding up for this book–I picked this up because I really loved Neon Gods, but these next two entries just haven’t really kept my attention as much.
This time around, the old Ares (head of Olympus’ armed forces) has passed away. The spot of Ares is filled with the victor of a series of physical trials–sort of a American Ninja/Triwizard maze/Gladiator set. Helen (of Troy), in this series one of the sisters of the current Zeus (nee Perseus) and a member of one of the most ultra-connected/powerful families in Olympus, wants the seat, which is open to anyone, either in or out of Olympus. Also in the competition are Theseus and Minotar (outsiders), Hector and Paris (Helen’s emotionally abusive ex), and our other protagonists, Patroclus and Achilles. To add a kicker to it all, Zeus announces on the night of the nomination process that whoever wins the seat of Ares will also get the hand of Helen.
It’s…a lot of plot, when written out that way, but it’s also not that much to anyone who’s been reading these books all along. The issue is that while Neon Gods paid some lip service to this vaguely defined semi-magic/semi-real Olympus world and the people who rule it (the rest of the lip service was between Hades and Persephone amirite huh huh?), each subsequent novel has spent more time on the plot part with the effect of making the romance parts a bit whiplash-y.
Patroclus and Achilles have been in an open relationship for over a decade at the outset of the book, which is one of my bigger issues with the entire set up. Our main relationship in this book is a throuple, which honestly I’ve only encountered once before (and there it was a surprise). Within Robert’s world, though, where everyone is having sex all the time with massive genitalia, it’s almost…tame? The three of them are very hot at doing what they do, but the throuple really struggles with the emotional burden that’s placed on their relationship. It makes perfect sense why Achilles and Patroclus would do things for each other, but it’s less the case when it comes to them sacrificing or caring for Helen. They only just met her! Patroclus knowing her when they were eight does not count.
Also like, what does jumping over hurdles have to do with competency to lead an army??? Moving on.
I actually would be really into a book that gets into some details on this Olympus stuff, or a book that glossed over it and did some sexy stuff, but these last two have been a bit miss for me on balancing the two.