God of War

Author:  Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman

Published By: Ballantine Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            I had enjoyed watching my brother-in-law play a video game deeply entrenched in Greek mythology called God of War, so when I saw a book adaptation of the game, I thought it would be fun to check it out.

            God of War is set in Greece some time after the fall of Troy.  At this time, Ares, God of War, unhappy as to the outcome of the Trojan War, has gone on a destructive tear, threatening to destroy Athens if he isnít stopped.  Once a faithful servant of Ares, the Spartan warrior known as Kratos, is contacted by Athena.  In exchange for freedom from the nightmares of his past, Kratos will do just about anything, even kill a god.  For that is what Athena is asking him to do.  She would do it herself, but for the decree by Zeus that no god shall smite another.  Kratos must find Pandoraís Box and discover the secret to destroying Ares or risk the destruction of Athens and freedom from his mental bonds.  But will that freedom come at a higher price than Kratos can afford?

            The premise of the game was incredibly interesting to someone who loves mythology, so I was excited to check out the novelization of God of War.  Having watched the game, I was prepared for the novel to be rather graphic, but not as graphic as it actually was.  When the main character is getting smothered by a fallen Cyclops, I really donít want the grizzly details of Kratos eating his way through to fresh air.  Disgusting and completely unnecessary!  Also, the word prodigious, meaning marvelous or extraordinary, is a really good, descriptive word, but did the authors have to use it so much throughout the novel?  I can think of at least ten times it was used off the top of my head and would have to go through the novel again to see exactly how many, but even five times would have sufficed.

            That being said, I think the God of War novelization by Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman was a good, fast read.  As I said, I love reading mythology and the story is heavily steeped in it.  The book gives us insight into the thought process behind the actions of Greek Gods such as Athena, Ares, Zeus, Aphrodite, Artemis, Poseidon and more.  Also, rather than seeing Kratos as a servant of the Gods haunted by his past, we can actually experience some of his pain.  The destruction required by the game in order to get to new levels is explained in the novelization.  Kratos often becomes a mindless warrior when in the heat of battle, killing indiscriminately until the job is done.  This is how he got himself into trouble all those years ago in Athenaís temple, the cause of all of his nightmares - he canít control his battle lust. 

            I also enjoyed reading the adventures of Kratos as he moves forward toward his goal.  Watching someone clear levels while playing a video game is one thing.  Reading a story about how the various levels are intended to be completed is quite another.  I also enjoyed how the character of Kratos grew from mindless, enraged warrior to a thoughtful one, able to quell his rage long enough to figure out a complex puzzle.

            Itís nice to see the characters and their actions explained in a way that a video game canít.  Thus, I would consider the God of War novelization to be the perfect companion to the video game franchise.  Itís worth checking out, but be warned, this book is not for the faint of heartÖor queasy of the stomach.


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