Stone Heart – 3 stars
Medusa, an assassin working for Athena, is sent to kill Calypso, the inconvenient mistress of a high-profile politician. But Calypso, beautiful and cunning, will do anything to save her life – including seducing Medusa.
This book serves as a prequel of sorts to the series, introducing the reader to the world of Olympus and the machinations of the Thirteen. I enjoyed the new perspective that we got on living in the city – unlike in the main books of the series, both leads are common people who have been buffeted around at the whims of their overlords and are doing their best to carve out a stable life for themselves.
However, I felt that the plot echoed that of Electric Idol too closely – the same idea of an assassin falling in love with their mark, except it made less sense in this story as it couldn’t be related to the original myths. I was also a little leery of the characterizations of Medusa and Calypso – Medusa is described as a himbo and Calypso is a canny seductress. I would have expected these personalities traits to be reversed based on the myths, and I missed Robert’s usually more faithful depictions.
Radiant Sin – 2.5 stars
Cassandra, the scion of a fallen house in Olympus, has been working as Apollo’s assistant for five years, but she’s always held herself apart, hoping for the day she and her sister can escape the city. An assignment at Minos’s country house seems like her ticket out – but to get through the weeks she has to pretend to be Apollo’s girlfriend.
It’s disappointing that I can say without much thought that this is my least favorite book in the series. Yet it is a very necessary one, because it helps us transition from the introductory tone of the first three books, opening up what seems likes it will be the major external plot of the series. I also enjoyed getting to see more of secondary characters from earlier books, as well as meeting all of Minos’s household. While the investigative portions were a little haphazard, they built to a satisfactory conclusion.
My main criticism of this book is about the lead pair, Apollo and Cassandra. Cassandra is a fun character, very prickly and acutely aware of how messed up the Thirteen’s machinations are. I liked the callback to the mythological figure in how no one listens to her warnings of danger. However, I thought Apollo was rather dull – a kind and dutiful man, sure, but one without any real personality. I didn’t care about him, and by extension about his relationship with Cassandra. I almost wished that this book was about Hermes, who is her ex and is unexpectedly intriguing here.