Every once in a while you come across a book which is truly special and I will volunteer that Paternus: The Rise of the Gods is one of those books. It's a book which is genuinely imaginative and fascinating in its world building as well as the implications of such ideas. It's an action story with each of the the conflicts between being big, epic, and mythic affairs (for good reason too). There's a bit of American Gods, a bit of the Illiad, and even a bit of the Transformers.
The premise is humanity lives in the shadow of the conflict between two groups of "gods." I use quotes around the word gods because they're not actually deities. They're instead immortal human-like entities with superhuman abilities but still very killable. The two groups can, somewhat, be divided into "Good Gods" and "Bad Gods" but the good aren't really all that good while the evil are completely monstrous.
Two young teenagers named Fiona Patterson and Zeke Prisco are caught up in the crossfire between a newly revived Bad God army as well as the weakened remnant of the Good Gods. While the former were beaten twice before, the latter were devastated to the point they're barely holding on. Now the Bad Gods have apparently managed to figure out a way to revive their dead members and well, that's not good for anyone.
If I have one problem with the novel, it's the fact we get a little too much focus on the gods while I was really interested in the story of Fiona (and to a lesser extent Zeke). Both characters get a bit sidelined in describing the epic history of the various deities battling out. For some readers, this will be a plus as they don't have to see the inspiration for Moloch and Anubis through the eyes of teenagers. However, I really bonded with Fiona quickly and was saddened to see her marginalized for the gods' story.
Dyrk Ashton has a staggeringly nuanced grasp of mythology that seems influenced by Joseph Campbell. Gods are frequently combined in an Ancient Roman sense, giving us the idea there's usually one woman behind legends of beings like Artemis, Diane, and other Huntresses. Dyrk's knowledge of mythology is also not just limited to the traditional Olympian/Egypt/Norse collection of deities but includes many Semitic and Indian mythology references.
The battles between the gods and their histories are all described in loving detail. Dyrk Ashton is the kind of author who would benefit from a soundtrack. I'm imagining a big and epic bombastic score akin to Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian or the Skyrim. While action in books is inherently limited, Paternus pushes the limits and creates some really riveting scenes.
There's a few suitably blasphemous ideas in the work such as the fact all of the gods are the descendants of Father. Father being the inspiration for God and all the other Sky Fathers of human religion. Except, Father is senile and completely useless. He's also an individual who has mated with animals in addition to people. That's notably something from mythology as well and a nice nod to the REAL origin of the minotaur.
In conclusion, I definitely think readers who enjoy big mythological stories and battles in their urban fantasy will enjoy this volume. I'm also going to check out the sequels as soon as they come out. Do I hope for some changes like a bit more focus on the humans and human-like perspective? Yes. I do. However, I'm not going to tell the author to write what I want.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Urban fantasy and mythology fans, this is a book you don't want to miss.