There are starting to be more fantasy novels set in the Greek and Roman time period, and this is one of them. Alexos is prince of Arctos, and at his birth an augury reveals that he is the one Athene has chosen to end a centuries' long curse on his country. His father does everything in his power to make Alexos strong and ready for the challenge. When Alexos is 12 years old an unexpected event throws into doubt his ability to fulfill the prophecy. Alexos flounders for a while, but with the help of kind mentors, gradually starts to find his way back and submit himself to Athene's will. Meanwhile on a distant island two children grow up in an idyllic setting with a kind and wise father. Athene is preparing them, as well, for something they cannot foresee or understand. In the end the prince and the children must conquer the greatest challenge of all to fulfill Athene's inscrutable plan.
I really liked this book. I think I enjoyed it more than anything I have read in a long time. It is written in kind of an odd style, but actually, it reminds me of when I was translating Latin texts in college. It has a "Latin-ate" feel to the language. What I liked about most, however, was the moral strength and innate goodness of the main characters. In so many children's fantasies, battles are won through violence or force. This book is all about compassion, courage and forgiveness. It got really mixed reviews on Goodreads, but it gets a star from me. (357 p.)