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Return to Olympus, by John R. Mason Book Review | SFReader.com
Return to Olympus, by John R. Mason Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Golden Apple Published: 2006 Review Posted: 7/27/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Return to Olympus, by John R. Mason
Book Review by C. Dennis Moore
Have you read this book?
Sometimes it's okay to read a sequel before the original. I think you could definitely read "The Vampire Lestat" without first reading "Interview with a Vampire." But to gain a real appreciation of "The Dark Tower 3," you should probably read the first two parts first. When I agreed to review John R. Mason's Return to Olympus, I didn't know it was a sequel to "The Kronos Factor." If I had, I probably wouldn't have said I'd review it--at least not without having read "The Kronos Factor" first. But that's how it worked out and I went in anyway, hoping Return to Olympus would be one of those sequels you don't have to read the first part to in order to understand. Now, having finished it, I hope it IS one of those sequels you have to read the first part to in order to understand, because otherwise, this book is more confusing than I thought.
Without going back to count then, we have about a dozen main characters, like Cappella, Kobe, Safra, Surya, Ion, Dee, Justain . . . and some others. Most of them are women. Two are men--I know Justain is one, and I THINK Safra is the other, but honestly I couldn't say with any real certainty. At times I was sure it was Kobe, so who knows. Anyway, these people aren't human and they're not from Earth. It's never explained truly what they are, however. They seem to be god-like in their abilities. They can create clothing from nothing, food, too. They can project images into others' minds, they can manipulate solid matter. They take on certain aspects of the universe, such as love, time, intellect, and become the embodiment of that trait. But they need a teleportation device to travel from place to place, so, like I said, who knows. They're originally from a planet called Olympus. Five years earlier, there was a great war on Olympus, our heroes battling Chaos and his acolyte, Annaise.
They defeated Chaos and placed him, and Annaise, in stasis, then placed the entire planet in stasis and moved to Earth. One day one of them gets a notion in her head that maybe Olympus isn't in stasis anymore and they should go check it out. Cappella and Dee travel back to Olympus and discover Annaise has escaped and is holding a young, innocent girl prisoner. The girl is a fresh soul, untainted by life, and Cappella decides to free her. Dee escapes back to Earth and returns with the others where they discover Annaise, Cappella, and Aura (the new girl). They decide to bring Aura home with them. But first they must remove the collar around her neck. They don't know who put it there, nor who originally imprisoned the girl; it wasn't Annaise, but as long as she was there, she might as well get some use out of her. What she wants is to use Aura as a bargaining chip. She'll show them where she found Aura, and that should lead them to the place where they'll find the proper equipment to remove the collar. But in return, they must free Chaos.
Return to Olympus was a very difficult book to read. For one, I could never keep straight who was who, what was their power, were they male or female (you certainly couldn't tell from the couplings; author Mason seemed almost obsessed with ramming the womens' bisexuality down our throats--just the women, though, of course, the men didn't swing that way--almost to the point where I started to wonder if these trysts were his entire motivation for writing this novel)? And I spent the first 3/4 of the novel feeling like the guy who came late to the party after the really good drunken fight is already over and everyone knows something you don't. I was just trying to keep up and piece together what I could as I read. But, seriously, I was lost for the first 150 pages. And the writing did NOT help. Behold:
Although Arielle and Nanneque had done their best not to wake Dee, it had been a none starter from the second they tried to open the bedroom door quietly. Dee had listened patiently to every creek, shh and curse as they stumbled their way around the room. In the end she gave up. "I'm wide awake, so why don't you just put the light on. Then you can give me a large cuddle. I've had a horrible time and need some serious comforting.
Cue softcore porn soundtrack. And I don't even know what a "none starter" is but it doesn't make for good reading. And Return to Olympus is full of things like this, off phrases, possible typos, horrible punctuation. It seems like, 9 times out of 10, when the character has worded their sentence as a question, Mason still ends with a period. And there's a certain pet peeve of mine: I despise the use of the word "learnt". I don't care if SpellCheck doesn't catch it, I don't care if it is, technically, correct; I loathe it.
Return to Olympus reads like Mason's been carrying the opus around in his head so long he's forgotten that the reader isn't privy to all the little details here and there and we might, from time to time, need to be told a little more specifically what's going on. Mason has big fantasy author aspirations, but hasn't yet developed the skills to bring those worlds in his head to fruition on the page. That's too bad. Other than the confusing characters and the difficult writing, Return to Olympus isn't horrible. It's well-plotted, the world (confusing as it is) is fully developed with a history and a mythology of its own. I'll be interested to see what Mason does in the future. Just not quite yet. Lemme read some really awesome books first, then I'll come back to him in several years when he's had time to work on some of the flaws. And hopefully the next one won't be so crammed full of sex that has absolutely no place and no point. Hopefully.
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