LEGACY OF THE FATHER by Craig Knight, self-published, £5.99
Review by Nigel Robert Wilson
What happens to gods and goddesses when they are no longer worshipped by millions of adoring, superstitious supplicants? This tale asks that question and comes up with a dark and troubling answer. At best, they wither away into redundancy seeking to maintain a semblance of their former splendour through the acquisition of old talismans leftover from their glory days. At worse they join up with the Norse trickster god, Loki who has an unspoken plan to absorb all of these decayed deities into himself, to create the one, real god.
This is a pretty cool plot, but for some reason in the telling of it Craig Knight has allowed it to become a whimper, bolting onto it a coming-of-age novel in which sixteen-year-old Ryan learns his destiny at the same time as his single mother discovers that she is not mad after all: it is all down to the others! Only alpha males will be unfamiliar with that feeling. The consequence in marrying these two quite attractive literary themes together is that the tale loses what potentially could be very tasty sharp edges.
Thankfully, due to some good writing and action sequences that grip the reader it avoids becoming hammy as can easily happen to fantasies that embody established mythologies. The tale contains some quite brilliant images. There are gods on a train, for example. Plus, gods in an NHS casualty ward. The full potential of this story is sadly unexploited.
Ryan has grown up believing that his father was killed in a gas explosion whilst working on an archaeological dig. Having just taken his exams, on the last day at school he and his friend are savagely attacked on their way home. His friend is injured but the attack is frustrated by the sudden appearance of an athletic woman who declares herself his previously unknown aunt. She is the goddess Diana as his father is Apollo, making his paternal grandparents whom he soon meets, the ancient Greek deities, Zeus and Leto.
It soon becomes apparent that the Greek pantheon is being set up against the Scandinavian as Loki, the master of all mischief is seeking to kidnap Ryan to use his scrying skills to recover the talisman of Ouroboros which has been lost. The Greek Furies have been suborned and are working with the Valkyries to assist Loki’s endeavours. The description of how Ryan scries for missing items possesses a convincing validity.
Zeus resolves to confront Odin at Asgard to demand that Odin brings Loki to heel. The route to Asgard is via Yggdrasil, the World Tree which has a root at Stonehenge. It appears that Odin has been trying to unsuccessfully manage Loki but in so doing had destroyed most of the Norse pantheon with the exception of Thor who is missing. To cut a long story short, Ryan and the Greek deities become witnesses to Ragnorok, the twilight of the gods.
Given Loki’s continued dominance Zeus tries to enrol the help of Hades in the underworld. This does not go well either and the story goes back to where it starts at the archaeological dig where Ryan’s father, Apollo was killed.
It is reasonable to assume that this book is directed at the teenage market. As such it is a fun introduction to Classical and Nordic mythology. Although my preference is for the earlier, shamanic versions of the Norse pantheon, this tale will at least get the youngsters reading about ancient belief. This can only be a good thing.