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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
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Books for Adults - Fiction

Cover Art: Belerion Odyssey
Belerion Odyssey
By William H. Russeth
Wings ePress, 2017, e-book ISBN 978-1-61309-288-0, $3.99
Print ISBN 978-1-61309-708-3, $14.95

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Sixteen-year-old Doros Alastor Papalos lives in the mountains, where he tends sheep. He likes the peaceful solitude, but it is a lonely life, one he has endured since the age of eleven. At least it keeps him safe from his Spartan master, who wants him to become a soldier. But the life he knows comes to an abrupt end one night when several Spartan lads come to slay him as a rite of passage. He kills the intruders, but knows he must flee. He is a slave, and he will be executed if heís caught. But where can he go?

Advice from an old man suggests the safest place to go is the sea, so Doros heads for Pylos to find a ship and a captain willing to teach him the ropes. But Doros doesnít know the dangers of a port city, and the temptress who offers him a drink sells him to pirates. Nor is he the only one she dupes. When Doros awakens, he discovers that Lykaon, the Spartan warrior sent to track down the murderer, has also been shanghaied.

Daidalos, the captain of the pirate ship, pays dearly for Doros and, wanting to get the best value for the cost, he teaches Doros about ships and sailing. Since he climbs the mast like a monkey, Doros soon earns the nickname ďMonkey Boy,Ē a moniker he despises. Since he knows how to swim, he is tasked with diving to the ocean floor to recover sunken treasure. While underwater, he pockets a large medallion as well as a small, green vial with a sparkling gold lump inside.

Soon after they recover the treasure, a storm overcomes the pirate ship and Doros, Lykaon, and Daidalos are the only survivors. All three are picked up by a passing trireme on its way fight the Persian navy. Since Lykaon is a warrior, he isnít forced to work the oars that propel the warship, but Doros and Daidalos are. None, however, wish to fight in the upcoming battle, and they make their escape when the trireme sinks.

Upon washing ashore, they encounter Aella, who is running away from a cruel master. She will help them steal a boat and escape pursuit if they take her with them. Once back at sea, Doros finally has a chance to examine the vialís contents and the medallion. With the othersí help, he comes to believe the markings on the medallion are a map to the location of Jasonís Golden Fleece. Tto make that journey, they need a bigger ship and more men. Not to mention money to buy supplies for the long journey from the Mediterranean to the island called Albion.

Belerion Odyssey takes place in 480 BC, a time when the Greek city-states and Persia are at war. The story begins with Monkey Boy being kicked over the side of the pirate ship to locate the treasure, dropping readers right into the action. What is a bit disconcerting in this first-person historical novel is that the storm approaches at the end of one chapter and the next takes place when Doros is eleven. The pirate story resumes in chapter seven. Only later do readers learn what happened when the storm overtakes the pirate ship.

Mutiny, kidnapping, betrayal, revenge, witchery, jealousy, and a dragon are just some of the elements that enliven this action-packed tale. Itís not the usual fare for a pirate adventure, but itís a fresh change of pace from the more common Caribbean ones. Russeth skillfully interweaves myth, history and pirates to transport readers back to ancient times. Belerion Odyssey is a grand quest with an exotic flare that is sure to satisfy readers of historical fiction and pirate fans alike.

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