A very enjoyable piece of Ancient Greece and mythology. Well researched and pretty darn sexy!
Review by Kazza K
Prince Alexios of Dicaea is turning eighteen. As per coming-of-age custom his father, King Demetrious, has invited men who would be fitting mentors for his son. Kings with daughters who can marry Alexios in the future. Alexios is only interested in men but it matters little as a) all their daughters are young and won't be ready for marriage until at least another ten or so years, but the betrothal forms a good alliance for the two kingdoms involved, and b) having a wife did not mean you did anything more than have children with them, you could have a male lover easily in Ancient Greece. The Kings who arrive for Alexios' celebration all have good qualities bar one, Theocritus. Theocritus abuses his position and is an all around bastard. But it is King Lykos that Alexios has the most attraction to in all aspects -
The main sail on the lead trireme bore Lykos' symbol, a clenched fist.
What would Lykos be like? He vaguely remembered the king from a visit years ago. Lykos had seemed like a big bear of a man -huge! - with a hearty laugh...
Why had he thought of the man whose name meant 'wolf' as a bear?
Meanwhile, Alexios has noticed his slave, Galen, and he is developing an attraction to the handsome young man, two years his senior. Galen is happy to serve Alexios and has been holding back his attraction to the prince. When Alexios lets his feelings be known it turns from oral buddies to so much more. Alexios takes Galen under his wing and his protection, even if it means pissing off one of his father's esteemed guests, Theocritus. Even if it means pissing off his father, as it is one thing to fuck your slave another altogether to have feelings for him. So there is a budding romance between Alexios and Galen. It started out a bit roughly for me as Alexios was taking and not giving, which is typical of someone born to his station in life, but that soon changes and I loved the way Alexios marked him for all to see and protected him. The way he cared for him after Theorcritus abused him. The way Galen was kind, gentle, and loyal.
King Lykos and Alexios are also getting to know one another in more than one way. There is a mutual attraction that both act on in a typical mentoring way. However, as the book progresses, there is a bit of a rivalry between Galen and Lykos. At the ceremonial games Lykos sends expensive almond oil for Alexios to wear for wrestling matches, but it is Galen who anoints his body and makes sure Lykos knows he's getting great pleasure oiling Alexios up. Oh, yeah strike one Galen. Yum, that scene was very sensual. The ceremonial games were to showcase the young men looking for mentors but here it was mainly for Alexios in light of his eighteenth birthday and for his father to gain a political foothold. The games were held in the nude to show the young men off in all their glory. They're also for the kings to get to see the young men in action, for their perusal and entertainment. To see the best, who would win a laurel crown.
Another part of this book, and the reason the series is called Apollo's Men, is that Apollo is using a scrying pool to watch the events going on on earth with his people. He has a particular interest in Cyrus. Until recently Cyrus was a slave, now he is prophet of Apollo. He is of Apollo's lineage and has come to Dicaea as part of Lykos' entourage. Apollo uses Cyrus as a vessel for his visions, and he delivers several prophecy's to Alexios at Apollo's behest. Alexios is a beautiful young man, which Apollo does not fail to miss, at all. He also recognises that Alexios has good intentions - he looks after Galen, his daughter's love the relationship between Alexios and Galen as they watch with their father, he is loyal, and has taken Cyrus on as a friend, even though he was originally a slave. All favourable things in Apollo's eyes, making Alexios even more attractive..
The other back story is that Alexios' father has become increasingly disdainful of Alexios. He compares him unfavourably to his mother, who has been cast out, calling him a whore like his mother. He is angry that Alexios is growing increasingly interested in King Lykos and his slave Galen. The whys of his dislike of Lykos are revealed. Hmm, talk about complicated. And, to add to that, Apollo takes an active part when a dire prophecy is delivered by Cyrus to Alexios.
There is a very detailed glossary at the back of this ebook including a lexicon of the names, terminology and mythos.