The Labyrinthine Journey by Luciana Cavallaro

(Cover picture courtesy of the author.)

Follow Evan as he continues his odyssey as Servant of the Gods in The Labyrinthine Journey. The quest to locate the sacred object adds pressure to the uneasy alliance between Evan and the Atlanteans. His inability to accept the world he’s in, and his constant battle with Zeus, both threaten to derail the expedition and his life.

Traversing the mountainous terrain of the Peloponnese and Corinthian Gulf to the centre of the spiritual world, Evan meets with Pythia, Oracle of Delphi. Her cryptic prophecy reveals much more than he expected; something that changes his concept of the ancient world and his former way of life.

Will Evan and his friends succeed in their quest to find the relics and stop the advent of Christianity?

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

After the cliffhanger of the first book, I was very excited to get an email from Luciana asking if I’d like to read and review the second book.  Although I was worried that since two years had passed it would be hard to get into the second book without reading the first one again.

However, I didn’t need to worry at all.  There’s a nice amount of exposition in the first few chapters that catches the reader up quickly and relatively unobtrusively.  We get re-introduced to our cast of characters including Evan, the High Priestess, Hektor, Homer and Phameas.  We also re-hash just enough of the plot of the first book to remember that Evan and his crew are on a mission to save the Greek gods from oblivion and have found one of apparently two objects that will accomplish this.

The Labyrinthine Journey is a fast-paced romp through the ancient Greek world as Evan (called Evandros in this time) and his crew search for the second piece of the puzzle.  Of course, things aren’t always so simple and as they find out on their journeys, they truly need three artefacts and thus the title The Labyrinthine Journey is completely justified.  They have to journey across Greece to consult the Pythia at Delphi and then the real journey begins when they learn the second artefact is on the island of Thira (or Thera, modern Santorini) in the ruins left by the massive volcanic eruption years ago.  And that’s not even the hardest part.  Because where the Greek gods are concerned, absolutely nothing is simple.

The relationships we saw in the first book have changed slightly as Evan adjusts to his new life as Evandros.  He still hates Hektor’s guts but Homer, Dexion and Leander attempt to keep things from getting violent between the two.  Alexina, the High Priestess is both more familiar and more enigmatic as we discover the full extent of her powers the Mother Goddess has granted her now that she’s in possession of the golden serpent.  And the growing romance between Alexina and Leander is subtle but sweet.  What intrigued me was that although we saw a little more of Melaina, Kronos’ daughter, her motives are still as mysterious as they were in the first book.  On one hand, her father is Kronos but on the other hand, there seems to be a bit of an attraction to Evandros at play and she does seem to want to help him.  However, the gods and the titans are not always straightforward.  While I can guess at her motivations, it should be fascinating to see what side she’s truly on in the third book.  That’s part of what I like about all of Luciana Cavallaro’s writing, from her short stories to this full-length series: she is truly good at creating ambiguous characters (which comes in handy where the Greek gods are concerned).  And no matter whether a character is mostly good or mostly bad, they are always interesting.

What I really appreciated (other than the amazing character-building) was the amount of research that went into The Labyrinthine Journey.  Not only about the big events going on in the Greek world at the time (the revolt of the Messenians, democracy in Athens, etc.), but the little details like all of the temples and statues being painted in bright colours.  We’re used to seeing the beautiful white marble statues and remains of temples and great buildings but ancient Greece, like the rest of the ancient Mediterranean was colourful and vibrant.  And where history and myth are silent, Cavallaro makes up something new that is also entirely believable like the Amazons on their far-flung island.  It fits seamlessly into the greater stories that make up what we know today under the umbrella term of ‘Greek myth’.

If you loved Search for the Golden Serpent, you will enjoy The Labyrinthine Journey as much as I did.  It’s a great sequel that definitely doesn’t suffer from the plot bloat that most second books do.  So go ahead and buy it!  You won’t regret it.

And if you haven’t read the first book but figure the story sounds interesting, I highly recommend trying out Search for the Golden Serpent.  If you love Greek myth and/or historical fantasy, you will love it.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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