I should begin by saying that I’ve always had a weakness for Greek Mythology. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s full of twisted, epic, morbid, fist-pumpy (occasionally eye-gaugey) awesomeness—magical beasts, petty gods and the poor, poor mortals they trample, people turning into animals, animals turning into people, gods turning into animals to get with people, acts of brawny, pectoraly heroism coupled with (sometimes, at least) shrewd, unbending female characters, bath-tub murders, cannibal approved pie recipes, and a whole lot of bloody cautionary tales. Basically, heaps of goodness (or very entertaining badness). Despite this, it never once occurred to me to read a modern work of fiction set in this world. The whole time I was reading Hero for Hire, I just kept thinking “damn it, this is a good idea. I should have thought of this!” It’s brilliant, because it’s an amazing fantasy world that requires very little tedious world building, as most of us are already familiar with the places, creatures, and gods it entails. Genius.
Hero for Hire follows Eno the Thracian, a for-hire hero whose gotten a lot more work since the Trojan war broke out, distracting the more well-known heroes and creating a lot job opportunities for our lead. As far as heroes go, Eno is an especially lovable one. In addition to being a witty, buff, capable lead, he is guided by an unwavering altruism that I was not expecting. For some reason, I anticipated more of a hard-boiled protagonist with primarily mercenary goals (perhaps because most action stars are pretty hard-boiled), but Eno is a highly empathetic, kind, respectful man. I’m generally all for gray characters with iffy morals, but being in Eno’s head was so darn refreshing, I really can’t complain about how white his hat is (not that he wears a hat). The adventure Eno goes on is consistently interesting and never predictable. It all comes together in a truly spectacular finale—seriously, all through the last few chapters, I was grinning down at my Kindle like a goon.
What I loved:
The story itself is just a good, fun, action-packed read. It’s funny and brisk; I tore right through it. If it were a movie, I imagine it starring some hunky actors with questionable acting abilities, having some spectacular special effects and lots of one-liners. I imagine myself watching it in the theater with my eyes so glued to the screen that I blindly stuff handfuls of popcorn in the general direction of my face-hole, ending in a lap full of grease-stains.
Eno’s voice is consistently engaging and very often humorous. Pratt managed to make me enjoy even an opening that is rather heavy on internal -monologue / exposition—something that normally annoys me—because Eno’s narration is so entertaining. As an action / adventure story, there are a lot of fight scenes in this book, and they are all handled expertly—just the right amount of detail (which is no easy feat).
What I didn’t love:
Ok, these are going to be nigglings, because I honestly was having too much fun reading this story to be much derailed by any shortcomings, however there were a few minor things I noticed. The book had a spattering of errors—much less so than many self-published books I’ve read, but still enough that I noticed and occasionally had to reread a sentence for clarity (though, I’m the kind of person to take note of such things). One thing that consistently had me starching my head was whether this story was meant to be told in real-time or if Eno is relating it from some future point. At times, he refers to what will happen, as if these events are all in the past and he’s recounting the,. However, at other points he uses time-placers like ‘now,’ making the story seem like it’s unfolding as I’m reading it. Occasional blunders in tense compound this confusion.
The only other thing that (mildly) bugged me was one instance of the story halting for the sake of backstory. I’ll be honest and say I never like this, but I’m more willing to forgive it in the beginning or middle of a book. When I’m entering the climax—when the proverbial shit has just hit the fan—I definitely do NOT want a pause in the story for some history. Aside from it being unrealistic that a character would mentally review the backstory of an opponent in a life-or-death situation, it totally pulls the reader out of the moment at just the wrong time (especially frustrating in this instance, as I was already familiar with the backstory in question). I understand the need for this kind of information to be present in the book, but finding a place earlier in the story would really help with the pacing as well as the pay-out, creating a sense of recognition even for those readers unfamiliar with classic mythology.
All in all, however, this book is a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys Greek mythology or just a good action-packed fantasy read. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel to find out what’s in store next for Eno!
(reviewed 8 months after purchase)