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Flight of the Fire Thief continues the hilarious fantastical adventures of Prometheus, the Greek demigod who stole fire from the gods and gave it to the human race. To escape the gods' revenge, Prometheus time-travels to Eden City, arriving in 1795. There he befriends a brave and resourceful
twelve-year-old girl named Nell. Deary skillfully interweaves two plots, with the action jumping at a whirlwind pace from ramshackle Eden City to Mount Olympus and the battlefields of the Trojan War.
About the Author
Terry Deary is the author of over 160 books. He writes both fiction and nonfiction to much acclaim and has a hand in the television, theater, and radio worlds as well. His Horrible History series has sold twenty million copies worldwide, and his books have been translated into twenty-eight languages. Deary has won numerous awards, including Blue Peter's Best Nonfiction Author of the Century in the United Kingdom. He was named a Doctor of Education by Sunderland University. For more information please visit www.terry-deary.net.
Read an Excerpt
Greece—around 4,000 years ago
I wasn't there myself, but I met someone who knows exactly what went on in those days. You will have to trust me when I tell you that every word of this story is true . . . probably. All right, a LOT of it is true. Other parts I may have made up to fill in the gaps so that it all makes sense. Yes, you'll see that I
tell a lot of lies. But liars are the only people you CAN trust in this world.
Zeus sat on a cloud.
You can do that sort of thing when you're a Greek god. But YOU shouldn't try it. You would need a very long ladder to get up to the clouds, and as soon as you stepped off, you would probably fall clean through the cloud. This could get very messy—especially if someone is walking underneath you.
Only special people like me and my pa could sail up and over the clouds.
How could I do that? Wait and see.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Zeus on his cloud. He wore wings and was the most beautiful thing you've ever seen—so beautiful that ordinary people (like you and me) couldn't bear to look at him.
Next to Zeus sat his wife, Hera, and she was not so beautiful because she had a scowl on her face. Her nose crinkled like a caterpillar's back, and her lips were as thin as an ant's leg.
"You promised me a vacation," she snapped.
"This is a vacation, dearest," Zeus said and smiled. "A sparkling blue sea and miles of sandy beach."
"The beach is covered with human corpses!" she screeched.
"There's a war on, my lovely," her husband said with a shrug. "We can sit and watch it just as those humans watch their little plays at the theater."
Hera pouted. "I wouldn't know. You never take me to the theater."
"This is real life—much more fun," he argued. "We can even join in."
"You are too mean to take me to the theater. You're so mean that you'd steal a dead fly from a blind spider."
"Only if you were feeling hungry," he muttered.
Hera didn't hear. Just as well.
"The town stinks," she said. "Humans stink. I don't know why you don't just send down a thunderbolt and burn it to the ground. A good fire would clean it up."
"Ah, fire," Zeus said and nodded. "They don't need my fire. The humans can make fire for themselves."
Hera turned to him with a face as sharp as a shrew. "And who gave them the power of fire?"
"I know," Zeus said and sighed.
Hera slapped and plumped up the cloud to make herself more comfortable. "I
asked you a question, Zeus. Who gave them fire?"
"My cousin Prometheus," Zeus said and closed his eyes. He was wishing that he hadn't mentioned it.
"Yes, your cousin Theus! He stole fire from the gods and gave it to those creeping little, fighting little, stinking little humans."
"Don't get on my back. I have punished him . . ." Zeus began.
"Oh, you punished him. You had him chained to a rock. And every day the
Avenger came down in the shape of an eagle and ripped out his liver. What sort of punishment is that?" Hera snapped, and thundery sparks crackled in the cloud.
"Every night the liver grew back, so he had to suffer the agony every day for two hundred years . . ." Zeus argued and grew angry as the cloud grew dark.
"But what happened? Eh? What happened?" Hera sneered. "You let him escape!"
"I didn't exactly let him . . ."
"All right. You let Hercules rescue him. Same difference. And where is Theus now? Hiding. He's traveled through time and space, and he could be anywhere. The poor little Avenger has worn out its wings looking for him!"
"Poor? Little? It's a blooming great bird with the sharpest beak this side of
Mount Olympus. Its talons can rip a rhino's skin . . ."
"Don't argue with me, Zeus. You always lose," Hera said with a shake of her head. "Theus gave fire to the humans, and he got away with it. I only hope that the Avenger finds him one day. It's still out there searching!"
Zeus propped himself up on an elbow. "I did make Theus a promise, my dear.
I gave him a challenge. I said that if he could find one true human hero, I'd forgive him!"
Hera snorted . . . and then her nose twitched as the stench from the city slipped into her nostrils. "He'll fail. He'll never find a human hero. The Avenger will find Theus first."
"The Avenger will be a bit busy, my dear," Zeus said and peered over the edge of the cloud to the city by the sea below. "There will be a lot of warriors here who need to be taken down to Hades and the underworld. I'm tired of this Troy."
"You're like a baby," Hera said and laughed bitterly. "You soon get tired of a new toy."
"I said Troy, not toy," Zeus said with a sniff. "The Greeks have been trying to take the city for ten years now—that's not getting tired quickly! Ten years!"
Hera rolled over and lay on her stomach next to her husband. The gods gazed down.
Inside the city the ragged Trojans trudged through the streets, thin and weary from the endless war. With secret tunnels and hidden doors, enough food had slipped into the city to keep them going for ten years. Bottomless wells of sweet water would last them forever. But the spirit of the people was as threadbare as their clothes. They longed for freedom. Freedom from a city that had become a prison—freedom from the fear that their prison walls would fall and let in sharp, slicing, stabbing death.
There were no rats in the city of Troy. They'd all been eaten long ago.
Outside the city a thousand Greek ships rested and rotted on the hot shore.
Tattered tents stood, faded and patched, flapping in the warm wind that blew over the soft sand. Slouching soldiers sat on rocks, polished their worn weapons for the 3,600th time, and longed for home.
"So, what are you going to do about it, husband?" Hera asked.
"Put an end to it," Zeus said.
Hera nodded. "And would you like me to tell you who is going to win?"
Zeus's shoulders dropped. "You are going to anyway."
Hera gave a small smile like a cat that's cornered a bowl of milk. "The
Greeks are going to enter Troy. They are going to kill the pathetic Prince
Paris and his hideous Helen."
"I thought you might say that," Zeus muttered. Hera held a big grudge against
Paris and Helen. Ten years ago the goddesses held a beauty contest, and
Prince Paris was the judge. Hera offered the judge power over all of Asia.
Athena, the goddess of war, offered him victory wherever he fought.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, offered him the gift of the most beautiful woman in the world. And everyone knew that was Helen of Sparta.
Paris chose Aphrodite as the winner and won the hand of Helen. Hera chose to sulk.
"I hate Helen! Hate her, hate her, HATE HER!" she cried.
"You don't like her, then?" Zeus said with a smile.
"I can't TELL you how much I hate her," she screamed, and the cloud shivered and shook out a storm of raindrops onto the dusty heads of the
Trojans below. "She is not the most beautiful woman in the world—her hair is too straight, her nose is too short, and as for her ears . . . well, what can I
say about a woman with ears like that?"
"And she's married to Menelaus, of course," Zeus added, stoking up his wife's rage.
"Ooooh! Yes! A faithless woman. Married to poor King Menelaus, and still she ran off with Paris of Troy." Hera pulled back her lips in a savage sneer. "Her Troy boy!" she said and looked pleased with her little joke. "And just look at the trouble she's caused," she added with a sweep of her hand at the scene below. "A thousand ships and fifty thousand soldiers sent to take her back to Greece. Me? I'd leave her to rot in Troy. From the smell of the place, it is rotting already."
Zeus sniffed and nodded.
Hera turned quickly to Zeus. "So? Whose side are you going to join? If you let Troy win, then I will make you wish that you lived in Hades with all of the tortures that the humans suffer there after death."
Zeus held up his mighty hands. "Oh, don't worry, wife. Troy will lose because the old curse says that Paris will bring about the destruction of the city. We can't go against the old curses," Zeus said.
"The old curse also says that the Greek hero Achilles will die in Troy." She jabbed a finger at the Greek tents on the plains of Troy. "He's still alive."
Zeus rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Yes, there's so much to do. I don't know where to start."
"Send for the Avenger," Hera told him. "It'll be handy to have it around when
Achilles and Paris are killed. The Avenger can take them straight to Hades."
Zeus nodded, placed his fingers on his lips, and gave a whistle that shook the walls of Troy. It also made Hera's ears ring.
"I have to send for Hermes, our messenger."
"Right. Then you need to arrange for Achilles to die . . . and then you have to make sure that the Greeks get inside Troy and kill Paris."
Zeus nodded slowly. "Yes, that's what I need to do," he agreed.
Hera puffed out her cheeks and blew with pride—which caused a sandstorm on the beach and tattered the tents again. "Phooey! I honestly don't know what you'd do without me, Zeus," she said.
"I'd like a chance to find out," he muttered under his breath.
"What was that?"
"I said, dear, I think you've blown some fires out!"
"Fires out? What are you talking about, Zeus?"
"Nothing, dear," the great god said and then turned as he heard a fluttering of wings. A young man landed on the cloud, wearing a bag at his waist. He held a wooden rod with snakes twined around it. There were wings on his sandals and wings on his helmet and a spoiled look on his face. "Ah, here's Hermes,"
"What do you want this time, my foul stepfather?" Hermes said with a sigh.
Zeus took a deep breath and held his temper. It wasn't easy.
"I want you to find the Avenger and bring it to Troy."
Hermes threw down his rod, and the shocked snakes hissed in their surprise. "Ooh! He wants me to find the Avenger. Just like that? I say, just like that?"
Zeus punched the cloud in anger . . . but punching clouds doesn't do you much good. He began to speak quickly in a low, angry voice. "Hermes, you are the messenger of the gods, and it is your job to take messages. So will you please stop complaining about it and get on with what you are paid to do?"
Hermes blinked. "Paid? When have you ever paid me? I am rushed off my winged feet, morning to night and night to morning. And not only do I not get paid, but I don't even get any thanks. All I get is shouted at!" He pulled at the hem of his tunic and blew his nose on it.
"You've made Hermes cry now," Hera groaned. "Say you're sorry, Zeus."
"You're sorry, Zeus," the god growled and then turned back to the sniffling messenger. "Hermes. Please do this small thing for me, and I will be so very grateful that I will never shout at you again."
"Promise?" Hermes said and sniffed.
"Promise," Zeus said. "The Avenger is traveling through time looking for
Cousin Theus. Theus and the Avenger were last seen in a place called Eden
City in a time the humans call 1858."
"Time? I have to travel through time?" Hermes screeched.
"We'll be so-o very grateful," Hera told him. "We'll have a special party for you when you get back."
Hermes's face lit up. "A party? With cupcakes?"
"Yes, dear," Hera said. She picked up the hissing rod and handed it to him. "Now, off you go, through time. Tell the Avenger that we're in Troy."
As Hermes's wings began to beat like a hummingbird, Zeus waved. "Have a nice time!"
Hera rubbed her hands together. "That's that problem solved. Now . . . how are you going to kill Achilles?" she asked.
Zeus smirked. "I have a rather neat little plan, my dear. A brilliant plan, a work of a genius, even if I do say so myself."
"Hmm!" Hera said. "We'll see."
Somewhere, just beyond the farthest star, the Greek demigod Prometheus drifted on white wings.
It was lonely out there. He headed for home.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Creative and a good book to read. I enjoyed it so much I need to buy the sequel!!!!