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“I didn’t know I was killing them. I loved them.
“Lysandra, come back to me, I didn’t mean to slay you,” Kratos said, seeking to stop the nocturnal torment the only way he knew, but he swung his blades at emptiness. He again stood on a barren plain that stretched flat in all directions. The more he tried to fight, the heavier the swords became, and when his muscles no longer responded, he sank to his knees and bowed his head. Kratos wept.
And in the distance he heard soft whispers of concern.
“He cries in his sleep.”
“How is this possible? He is God of War!”
“He sheds no tears for those he has slain in battle. Perhaps he—”
Kratos came awake with a start. It took him long seconds to realize he clutched a lovely woman by the throat. Her slender fingers trying to free herself were no match for his powerful grip. Without realizing he was doing so, he had started to crush the life from her body.
“Please. Lord Kratos, do not kill her,” came the impassioned plea from the other side of his large bed. “She seeks only to serve you, not offend!”
Kratos released the death grip. The woman he had almost killed fell across his bare legs as she gasped for breath. He sat up and stared at her twitching body. She wore a thin garment of pale green silk that revealed her voluptuous curves. Struggling, she rolled off his legs, clutching her throat. The fiery red marks stood out in bold relief where his fingers had crushed into alabaster skin. Despite the nearness of death, the woman showed no fear of meeting Hades. Kratos read something different there, another emotion that infuriated him.
Let her be afraid. He was God of War. His enemies cowered before him!
But she showed pity for him. For him! The Ghost of Sparta!
“The dreams again, my lord? They still torture you? How may I ease your burden?” She moved to push away the sheets covering his midsection.
Her hot breath touched his belly and lower. Then there were two. The other concubine, the one who had begged for him to release the death grip, sought to give him pleasure, also.
“Away,” he roared. “Get away from me!”
“We seek only your comfort, Lord Kratos. We want to do whatever we can to soothe your troubles—and to replace them with delight. Let us do Aphrodite’s bidding and—”
Kratos swung his brawny forearm and sent both women tumbling away. They muttered to themselves. He stood, thin vestiges of his dream fading quickly until he found it difficult to remember exactly what had happened. A black plain. A cave that became a mountain and then something else. His head threatened to explode from trying to remember that encounter.
But he had no trouble remembering the feel of his sword driving into Lysandra’s body or the terror and loathing on his own sweet Calliope’s face as he killed her, also. The nightmares were as permanent as the sky and earth and the Olympian throne on which Zeus sat.
“You promised to obliterate my nightmares if I did your bidding,” Kratos said, shaking his fist at the open sky above his sleeping chamber. “You lied, Zeus. You lied!”
“Master, please. We seek only to do your bidding. Tell us how!” The two women threw themselves at his feet. He kicked them away, went to the table where his armor was laid out with his simple clothing, clothing befitting a warrior, and quickly dressed. When the women came to aid him in his toilet, he drove them back with a dark glare. They huddled together, watching him.
He felt pity radiating from them like heat from the sun itself. He hated them for that. He hated himself all the more for ever believing Zeus. With a final jerk, he strapped on his armor and settled two swords in an X pattern across his back.
Kratos stormed from his sleeping chamber.
Massive shoulders rippling under his chased-gold armor, nicked in places from terrible battles fought and won, he used both hands to throw open the fifty-foot-tall doors leading from his chambers. The huge stone doors sent echoes reverberating throughout Olympus. As he strode along he never noticed the fine vases, the tapestries on the marble walls, the myriad tributes collected by the gods of Olympus from their mortal worshippers; instead he plotted and planned. These serene halls with clouds floating under terraces opening to the side were not for him.
He was a warrior.
He ran his fingers over the bone-white of his skin. His wife Lysandra’s and daughter Calliope’s ashes had been cast over him, forever making his flesh an unforgettable symbol of how Ares had betrayed him, tricked him, and led him to murder those he loved above all else. Even the bright red tattoo in memory of his brother Deimos and proclaiming him a soldier of Sparta seemed a mockery.
Kratos’ hand flashed to the hilts of the blades at his back when Hermes ran down the corridor, dancing about like some gaudy butterfly. The Messenger of the Gods visibly paled and darted away. Such it was whenever another saw Kratos. Stride lengthening, he passed where other gods gathered in small groups of twos and threes. They turned their backs to him.
He heard Zeus’ sister Hestia sniff in contempt and say to Demeter in a voice just loud enough for him to overhear, “Has your crop been ruined by his endless war?”
“My worshippers starve because of him and those terrible, brutish Spartans,” Demeter said. She glanced sideways at Kratos, then turned quickly and took Hestia by the arm to guide her away, going in the direction already taken by Hermes.
Kratos’ hands slid from the handles, and a sneer curled his lip, twisting his face into pure contempt. What did he need their approval for when he was greater than the lot?
Swinging about, sandals making slapping sounds on the travertine floor, he went to a huge vaulted atrium dominated by a circular aperture. Within the confines of the circle roiled a thin fog turned the color of blood. Distant sounds of battle heartened Kratos. The clash of sword against sword, shields deflecting blows and knives driving into exposed midriffs, the battle cries of the victorious and the lamentations of the vanquished. Men strove in his name. Armies swept across the face of Greece and laid waste to all they encountered.
The God of War favored Sparta and incited the warriors to destroy all armies, all cities, every man, woman, and child not of the city of his birth who refused to be subjugated. He had been called the Ghost of Sparta. Now he was God of War with a mighty sword-wielding army sweeping across the world.
The shrieks of dying men rose higher; music to his ears. For these were not Spartans dying but other, weaker men. The fog billowed higher and parted to give him a clear view of the battlefield below. A harbor. A city burning. Soldiers driving swords through leather armor into bellies and hearts. Spartan soldiers, invincible because of dedication and training—and his favor. “ . . . Kratos, how could you kill me? . . .”
The whisper from deep within his nightmares was drowned out as he bellowed his approval when a Spartan unit marched forward, swords clanking against bronze shields. Their feet hit the ground in a marching rhythm that sent tremors of fear through the enemy.
“Allow no escape. Give no quarter!” His words filled the air and echoed throughout Olympus and to the world below. The Spartans dulled their blades on the shields and necks, the greaves and arms, of the enemy until the din of battle suffocated any voice in Kratos’ mind. He continued to direct the carnage, approving of his army’s fighting prowess.
Far below a young Spartan stepped from the fray and thrust his sword high in the air, toward Olympus where Kratos watched.
“My lord Kratos!” The words were caught on the din of battle and carried to his ears. “Another city is ready to fall! Soon all shall know the glory of Sparta!”
Kratos’ hands clenched into tight fists, and cords stood out on his forearms and in his neck as he tensed. Victory! He did not need Hermes to bring such glorious news when he could watch his armies from this lofty perch. But Kratos was never one to watch. The sight of skilled warriors battling the ever-weakening defenders of the harbor city of Rhodes pledged to Apollo told him he would have to hurry if he wanted to share in the blood and glory of victory.
A soft tread on the stone floor behind caused him to straighten. His quick intake of breath filled his nostrils with the aromatic spikenard. Slowly turning, he faced Athena. The goddess looked up at him with a curious mixture of anger and pleading. Her sepia-tattooed lips parted, but she did not speak immediately. The intricate, swirling designs on her face seemed to take on a life of their own, as if those tattoos might possess her. But Kratos knew better. Of the gods, Athena was the most in control of herself. Her schemes were clever and subtle and had brought him to Olympus as a god.
Her elaborately engraved armor creaked slightly as she reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. He jerked free. His anger built anew.
“Enough, Kratos. The wrath of Olympus grows. Even I will no longer be able to protect you.” The delicate golden bands of her head decoration caught sunlight and made her look even more godlike. She wore battle armor, not as a fashion statement like so many other gods but because she was a warrior. He appreciated this and that she had worn the bronze-and-leather panoply to show how different she was from so many others who refused to even speak with him, much less confront him. But she was not his ally. She always took the side of Zeus and prattled about what was best for Olympus, as if he should care, too.
Kratos growled deep in his throat and pushed savagely past the goddess.
“I need no protection.”
“You forget that it was I who made you a god, Kratos. Do not turn your back on me!”
“I owe you nothing.”
“Then you leave me no choice.”
He ignored her, his stride long, sure, and directed toward a precipice ahead. The marble floor simply ended to give a dizzying view of the earth far below. Kratos paused a moment, the sounds of battle reaching him even at this great height. He drew in a deep breath and smelled the sharp tang of spilled blood. The battle would be over quickly. He wanted to be there to cheer on the Spartan soldiers—and to relish the victory over yet another city’s patron god, whoever that might be. Kratos neither knew nor cared. He stepped forward, fell rigidly at attention, and aimed his head toward the far ground. The wind caught at him as he arrowed downward.
“Kratos, no!” came Athena’s faint warning.
Posted September 26, 2014
Posted August 4, 2013
If possible, I’d rate this book 6 stars. It is rare that I find a book so enthralling and engaging that I completely leave the real world behind from beginning to end without coming up for air. Based on the super-hit video game series, God of War, Kratos, a mighty warrior eternally enslaved to the gods is given his freedom after defeating the mighty Ares, God of War. Kratos is a cold-hearted, soulless, demigod out to seek revenge on the world and will need to rely upon the fearlessly fated Titans to defeat the mighty god, Zeus, so Kratos can overthrow Olympus and take revenge and only then will his nightmares cease and the tormented hauntings they bring will subside.
“A demigod? How ordinary. The gods mate wit mortals endlessly. I get tired of spinning their fate for such unions.”
If you loved the video game series, you will love this book as it takes off where the game ends and so much content is added to to enrich the storyline. Kratos is one of those powerful characters that walks the line of both good and evil and I find myself justifying his gory bloodshed, as somewhere within him lies a good soul. If you are looking for a book to get lost in for a few hours, this is definitely the one!
*This book was provided in exchange for an honest review*
*You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review
Posted June 10, 2013
Posted May 8, 2013
Posted February 12, 2013
Posted August 29, 2013
No text was provided for this review.