on Aug. 20, 2012 :
This is the second book in Rob Henning's Ultimate series, and manages to be an excellent complement to its predecessor. If Journey to Spirit Kingdom brought a bright smile to one's face, Olympic Gold got the reader's heart racing and clattering almost non-stop until the end. Emphasizing the spirit of sportsmanship, it is a rousing and inspiring piece that sends the message "everybody can win" to its readers.
The story begins in Corinth, and revolves around two cousins, Alexis and Adonis, and how they embark on an extraordinary journey to pursue Olympic gold. Now, this is the Olympics in Ancient Greece mind you, so aside from what everybody in modern times may know about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, the reader also gets to meet a centaur and then even Zeus, Hera, and Hades! Inasmuch as this story will be quite enjoyable for readers of any age, it will certainly be most appreciated by a youthful audience, and by young boys in particular. Older readers who may have some familiarity with the Greek pantheon and the tales of the (mis)adventures of the various gods and goddesses will be a little confused by the rather amiable representations of the different immortals in this tale. Most of them are quite pleasant, and with the exception of Hades, quite endearing.
Henning starts his tale by establishing with the readers the camaraderie between the Corinthian athletes, the hero worship and loyalty Alexis has for his cousin, and the fondness and love Adonis has for Alexis. By the time the Corinthian athletes reach Olympia, the pace starts going faster and faster till it culminates in the competition for gold in the main event---the pentathlon. The reader is treated to the excitement of a grand sporting event, with a team to root for and a competition so close that one holds one's breath---which I did! I even confess to skipping on to an event's final results when I got too impatient and wanted to know who won!
An admirable facet that Henning showcased was the superb talent children could have. The characters Clio and Alexis were exceptional children and good models for young readers to emulate. Henning sets up these characters to merit much admiration from their elders, despite still being children, and I find it quite refreshing to see the author treat his child characters in a touching and respectful manner. Another aspect I enjoyed was how Henning managed to give his characters lots of balance and shades of gray---even the established villains had something to offset their infamy: whether it was a love lost or an important lesson learned, even the villains were treated well by Henning at the end.
Obviously I enjoyed Olympic Gold quite a bit, and I appreciate that the first and second book of Henning's Ultimate series give readers plenty to enjoy. I encourage readers of all ages to gulp down this delicious vitamin-loaded protein shake of a tale---it's a fine complement to that clear broth with fresh cilantro I already invited readers to sample.
Review also posted at Bookideas.com
(review of free book)
on June 19, 2011 :
A rollicking good ride through ancient Greece! The characters are so much fun, especially young Clio who is determined to run the Olympic Games as she sees fit. This is the perfect story for all readers who love sport, action, and the ideals embodied in the Olympic movement.
(reviewed the day of purchase)