Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-21735-7
Historical Romance, 2006
All’s Fair in Love and War, like the previous two books in the author’s The Goddesses series, is not a romance by any stretch of the imagination. This one sees a romantic relationship developing between our heroine and the man who used to be the palace stable boy, but it is not the focus of the story. Instead, this is the story of our princess Athena from her childhood to her adult years.
Athena, if I remember correctly, did indeed fight with Poseidon over the position of being the patron deity of Athens, with Athena winning the position after creating an olive tree that won over the people of that city. In this story, Athena will be in a similar conflict with her uncle Poseidon, only, with this being a more down-to-earth retelling of the legend, they are fighting over who will get to be the boss of everyone. But to get there, I will also have to wade through the days of Athena growing up into this perfect woman who can do nothing wrong in this story.
While I find it most interesting how the author transforms the more fantastical elements of the legend into something more down to earth in a way that makes perfect sense, I find this story on the dull side because Athena is a flat heroine. She’s everything nice and perfect with no vulnerabilities – she pretty much waltzes through this story, buoyed by her superior genes, amazing intellect, beauty, and unquestioned love and devotion of every good supporting character in this story. While it will be nice to have a paragon of perfection boss everyone around in real life, such a person makes an utterly dull lead character in a story.
All’s Fair in Love and War has its shares of inventive ideas, but it’s a shame that Athena is such a dull Mary Sue of a heroine.